Mothering is important business, and it usually comes with a side of housework that can make your head feel like it’s always spinning. I have tried so many different techniques to sort out the cleaning in my house, and read countless blog posts, books, courses and such to try to get a handle on it. So, in honor of all the research I have done on the subject, I am sharing my current cleaning plan for the overworked, overstressed mother who is just trying to feel less like a failure. Isn’t that a sales pitch? Here’s how it works:
- Analyze your cleaning list (even if that list is in your head) for the major things each week that have to happen to maintain your sanity. This will probably be pretty specific to the individual. Mine are clean bathrooms, vacuum carpets, sweep and mop wood floors, trash and laundry. Now, if it were a perfect world and I had endless time, I would probably do a lot more cleaning (not true, actually, as in a perfect world I would hire someone to clean for me) but this is what I need to do to keep things sane around here and to keep me from feeling super stressed.
- Analyze your cleaning list for the major things that need to be done each day. I have slowly trained myself (after much kicking and screaming) to make my bed, clean off the kitchen counters, wash all the dishes and pick up things as I walk around the house. These are my everyday things, and they keep my sanity to a normal level. I protested them at first because I thought it sounded too hard (I sound like a real whiner, don’t I?), but I’ve realized I’d rather do them throughout the day and not have to get up in the morning and start a whole pile of things I wished I had done the day before.
- Assign a day each week for your major weekly duties. Here’s how mine looks:
Monday: Clean bathrooms and gather all trash
Tuesday: Sweep and mop wood floors and put trash out on curb
Wednesday: Vacuum carpets
Friday: Pick a chore (dusting, deep cleaning a room, reorganizing or decluttering a room, etc.)
Now, the key to this is that if I miss a day, it’s ok! This week I did clean the bathrooms on Monday, and I swept on
Tuesday, but I vacuumed on Tuesday as well because I had an extra minute. Now, I don’t worry about too much
on Wednesday because I’m ahead of the game. Or, if I have a big day of work on Monday, I’ll try to fit the
bathrooms in later in the week—Friday is very helpful because it is a day to catch up as well.
- Start requiring yourself to do your daily duties every day. I hated it at first, but after a while it became habit and now it feels weird not to do it. I can’t believe the reduction in my stress level when I wake up to a clean-ish house, though! And every time I walk in my bedroom throughout the day, I see the bed is made and realize I have at least had one accomplishment today! We are aiming small, people!
- Remember that for your season of life right now, you may have to reduce your standard a little. My bathroom cleaning is not deep cleaning every time. I only clean the bathtub every other week (if that) and I vacuum the upstairs carpets every other week or so as well. The downstairs carpets need vacuuming at least once a week, so that’s what I focus on. If there is very little time, I will pick the piece of the cleaning task that really needs to be done and focus on just that. So, maybe it would be nice to mop the floor but if I at least sweep it, things will be better—so I do that. This is about your sanity and what you feel needs to be done. If the dusting is the thing that bothers you more than anything, make sure that is done every week. That is so not my issue, so I focus on bathrooms and floors. Figure out what works for you and what helps you to feel more relaxed in your home.
- Reevaluate as you go and make sure this isn’t adding to your stress. My loose cleaning schedule is something that I’ve realized helps me to be better prepared when people come over (of course, my close friends have just learned to deal with my house in whatever state they find it) and it leaves me feeling very productive even if things are not perfect. My standards have been lowered, but I can still keep my house somewhat clean without cleaning for hours at a time or stressing myself out constantly about it.
Hope this makes it easier to get through the cleaning and allows you to relax more in the place you call home!