The first thing I did was to make a list of all the regular chores that needed to be done to have a clean house, things like vacuuming, dusting, dishes, laundry, etc. Then I took my list and broke it down into things that needed to be done daily, weekly, and monthly. I kept it pretty basic, focusing only on those things that would really bug me if they weren't clean. My list looked like this:
- empty dishwasher
- kitchen surfaces wiped down
- vacuum downstairs
- 1 load of laundry
- make bed
- 15-minute pick-up
- 15-minute declutter
- clean master bathroom
- clean kids' bathroom
- clean hall bathroom
- dust downstairs
- dust upstairs
- vacuum upstairs
- mop kitchen
- take out trash
- wash bath mats
- dust moldings and baseboards
- clean windows
Again, I kept it simple and just tried to include those things that I really noticed when they weren't clean. I'm sure it's not a complete list, and there will probably be more things that I will want to include, but for now it seems to be doing the trick.
The next step was to lay out some routines for getting these things done. All of the things to be done daily, I worked into my daily routine. For example, when I get up, I get ready for the day, and before I go downstairs to get breakfast for the kids, I gather up a load of laundry to take down to the washer. If I do this early enough, then I can switch it to the dryer before we leave the house. After I brush my teeth after breakfast, I make my bed. After dinner, I make sure that the dishes get done and the table cleaned off.
The most surprising thing I've learned is that I can time myself on a lot of these things and they take so little time. Last night after our dinner of spaghetti, I timed how long it took me from start to finish, including clearing the table, putting away leftovers, rinsing dishes and loading the dishwasher, washing a big pot by hand, and wiping down the table, and it all took less than 10 minutes. We all have at least 10 minutes! Especially on those evenings when I just feel dog-tired, I just tell myself, I can do this for 10 minutes, then I'm done, and I envision myself waking up in the morning to a clean, shiny empty sink and a tidy kitchen. That always motivates me to give that extra little bit.
The same holds true for the vacuuming- my downstairs is around 1000 square feet and it takes me just over 10 minutes to vacuum it, which I do either while the kids are playing outside after lunch or sometime in the morning while my son is at school. Knowing that these things only take a few minutes motivates me to get them done, because I know how much better I'll feel once I can look down and see a clean, crumb-free floor.
The last thing I've worked into my routine- rather cleverly, I'd say- is folding the laundry. This used to be my big hang-up (excuse the pun) just because I find it SOO boring! So what I've done is to make it fun for myself. When I put the kids down for quiet time in the afternoon I give myself about 30 minutes to eat my lunch and watch HGTV (I love HGTV!). When my lunch is done, I clean up and go grab the clean laundry from the dryer, and sit on the couch and continue watching HGTV while I fold. It's become my little treat time- because why else would I be sitting on the couch in the middle of the day watching HGTV? Now I make sure I do at least one load of laundry a day, because if I don't then I don't get my tv time! ;-)
So my next step after setting up my daily routines (which, if I did them all at once would take less than an hour and a half) was to set up a weekly routine for my weekly cleaning chores. To do this, I took a look at my life and tried to figure out which days made the most sense for these areas to be clean. I decided on Monday as a good day for cleaning my master bathroom, because I usually make a little bit more of a mess on Sundays getting ready for church. While I'm up there, I might as well dust the master bedroom as well, because that only takes about 5 minutes. Wednesdays are a good day for dusting downstairs and cleaning the hall bathroom, because the book club I'm a member of meets on Wednesdays, and my playgroup meets on Thursdays, so that would be the day I'd clean them on weeks when I'd host. Fridays are a good day for mopping the kitchen, because it takes a little more time, which I have on Fridays because my son doesn't have school on Fridays.
I talked with my husband and asked him if he would be willing to take on a couple extra chores to ease my burdens during the week, and he agreed. I gave him 3 chores, each of which takes less than 10 minutes: taking out the trash (his job before anyway), cleaning the kids' bathroom (he gives them their bath every evening, so he's in there anyway), and vacuuming the upstairs (it's no fun to lug a heavy vacuum upstairs when you're pregnant!). His willingness to help has been a huge relief for me.
So, as you can see that gives me Tuesdays and Thursdays that are free of weekly chores. I can use my few extra moments on those days to get some of the monthly chores done or to catch up if I miss a weekly chore on a scheduled day.
The benefits I've gained from these routines are:
1. When I look at something that needs to be cleaned, I can put it out of my mind because I know it will get its turn sometime soon, and I don't beat myself up over it.
2. The house is in such a state that when I get up in the morning, if I really don't feel like doing anything on one day then I can skip most of it (with the exception of dishes!) and not fall behind.
3. When I give myself time to relax now I actually feel relaxed because there aren't a million things around me nagging for my attention.
4. My home feels much more peaceful and so does my brain! Not to mention that it's company-ready. We had some surprise guests last night and there was nothing to feel embarrassed about. Actually, I felt quite proud!
This is my own little system, and I must give a lot of credit to FlyLady for giving me the basic mental tools that I needed to establish it. 15 minutes at a time, housework done incorrectly still blesses your family, don't try to catch up- just jump right in where you are! I won't try to say that my house will always be perfect, because I'm sure I'll have those times where I fall off the wagon, but for now this is working and I feel good about it. I'll just keep plugging away and taking advantage of my convenient nesting instincts!
Do you have a system for housecleaning that works for you? Leave a comment and share!