Saturday, November 10, 2012

Whistle While You Work

I've had several people inquire about my housekeeping schedule/how I stay on top of it/what I I figured it was time to write a blog about it.

None of this is written to say "You must keep a clean house." or to make anyone feel guilty. I am merely offering suggestions for those looking for advice on the subject. This is purely what works for us and what I have found to be helpful.

First off, I enjoy housework, to an extent. I think mostly I enjoy the reward of a clean, orderly house more than the work itself, but I enjoy finding new ways to clean, trying out crunchy cleaners, and seeing if there are quicker/easier ways to do certain tasks.

Secondly, my mom always kept our home clean growing up. There were never dirty dishes left in the sink, there were never clothes on the floor unless it was laundry day and she was sorting to make piles for washing. She taught my brother and I early on the importance of keeping things clean. However, it really wasn't until I got my own home and family that this became a priority to me. Up until then I cleaned because it was required of me.

But now I have my own house and two little children and a dog and a husband and I want to spend time with them. I find if my house is in disarray, I can *NOT* focus on my family like I would should. So shortly after my oldest was born, I began looking for ways to keep my house in order and have plenty of time for my family.

A few things before we get started:

What works for my family may not work for you. I suggest you experiment with several different routines or schedules until you find your groove.

Along with deciding what kind of schedule works for your family, you also have decide what level of cleanliness you can and can't live with. I have to vacuum/sweep daily. I can't stand having dirty dishes in the sink. But dust doesn't bother me. I do dust about once a week or every ten days or so but I have to *make* myself do it because it doesn't bother me. So write in the chores you don't care about to remind yourself to do them! I made a family binder and the first part is about housework. Seeing my schedule laid out helps me stay on track and reminds me to do things that I wouldn't otherwise notice, like dusting.

My dear friend Sally wrote a five part series about housekeeping on her blog, Carpe Diem Mom. I would highly recommend her series. She really delves deep into preparing for cleaning and overhauling your home to make cleaning easier. Those things will help you succeed and Sally explains the process much better than I would. She was a big encouragement for me to get started with a proper schedule/routine and get my house in order.

Also, make your housekeeping fun. Put on music, race a timer and reward yourself with breaks and stops to play with your kids. My reward is nap time. I do *not* do household tasks when my kids are sleeping, unless it's something I want to do, like baking or folding laundry (I find folding laundry very therapeutic, I'm weird that way). I wrote about my nap time rule several years ago, here.

Someone once accused me of not spending time with my kids, actually it was implied by a very haughty "Well I would rather interact with my kids while they are awake instead of clean. That's much more important." comment. So....lest it be implied I don't spend time with my kids because I don't do housework while they are sleeping, realize I'm not advocating that at all. My youngest is worn while I do housework, or sits near me in his little rocker. I sing to him, and talk to him the whole time. My oldest often wants to help, but we take frequent breaks to play together. We eat breakfast and lunch together, and we all cuddle in bed in the mornings either watching a TV show or reading books. My children are *not* neglected by doing things this way.

In my honest opinion, household tasks are one of the most rewarding times spent with your children. They learn how to contribute to the family unit by helping and learn about what it takes to keep a house running smoothly. If you express an attitude of joy and happiness during your work, your children also learn that as well. Having a joyful attitude towards any job is a fantastic trait to pass onto your children!

My other rule is that with the exception of dinner/cleaning up from dinner, I don't do housework once my husband gets home from work in the afternoons. On the weekends I do daily tasks, but that's it. This means we have a lot of time together as a family and we do what we *want* to do.


Here is my weekly schedule. Feel free to tweak it to fit your home and family and life.

Daily (Monday-Saturday): 
-Vacuum carpeted areas/sweep hard floors
-Make beds (Andrew actually makes his own, but I do remind him to do so.) I would encourage you to make your bed *first thing* once everyone is awake and children are no longer sleeping there. ;)
-Wipe down sinks/counters/toilets in bathrooms. Change hand towels.
-Wipe off counters, stove and tables in kitchen/dining room. Change dish/hand towels.
-Keep clutter picked up (usually I do this by doing a ten minute clutter session before lunch and then again shortly after dinner.)
-Keep dishes washed and put away.

2-3 times a week:
-Wipe off the fronts of cabinets/stove/fridge in kitchen
-Wipe off window sills (this needs to be done more frequently in the summer when windows are open.)
-Wash cloth diapers
-Change bath towels. (Actually, we change them after every third use but it works out to about every 2-3 days.)

Monday - Laundry (On this day I do nothing but laundry. Everything is wash, dried, folded and put away.)
Tuesday - Errands (grocery store, whatever other errands I need to do), wipe off the windows to the doors.
Wednesday - Mop floors, clean downstairs bathroom.
Thursday - Clean master bathroom, dust
Friday - Change sheets on bed, create meal and grocery list for next week.
Saturday - Keep up with clutter, prepare clothes and bags for Sunday morning, prepare meals for Sunday (breakfast and lunch).
Sunday - Sunday is a day of rest. I make beds halfway (I pull up and straighten blankets but make it easy to crawl into for naps, which we all take on Sunday afternoons), and I clean up dishes from meals.

And there you have my cleaning schedule.


This sounds like a lot but it really isn't. Here is why:

Because I do this stuff daily, it is done quickly. If you only do dishes every few days, dishes are going to take forever. But if you wash after every single meal, it takes less than ten minutes. If you only wipe off counters once a week, you spend hours cleaning off dried food or whatever, when if you do it daily, it takes less than a minute or two. It's easier to to play keep up than catch up.

I love that I can get up in the mornings and instead of rushing to start cleaning, I can start the day leisurely with my children, we often cuddle in bed for an hour or so and look at books, watch Netflix, play games on mommy's phone or laptop. It is so relaxing.


I'm currently blessed with a mother's helper. A friend from our congregation comes over 1-2 times a week to help with whatever I need. So far she's come with me when I've run errands to help me corral the three year old. If you have the opportunity to have help like this, go for it!

I'm also currently blessed with a lot of energy. I've always had a ridiculous amount of energy, so it helps to have that as I'm dealing with my children and working on keeping my house in order!


I hope these suggestions are in someway helpful or encouraging. Good luck and happy cleaning!!


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