As structured as I am, until the last couple months, I’ve never been one of those people who did certain chores on certain days. When something looked dirty, I cleaned it – and by look dirty, I mean pink ring in the toilet bowl, ability to write a note in the dust on the shelf or visible dirt in the carpet. Probably not the best plan, but it worked. After my daughter was born the time gap between seeing the pink ring in the toilet and cleaning it grew dramatically longer than it had been before she was born. I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated at my inability to keep up with housework. I’m sure you’ve never been there. (sarcasm…)
Once I quit my job to stay home with my daughter, I decided that that this was something that I needed to do better. I looked at all kinds of cleaning schedules on Pinterest, but it was hard because no one person’s cleaning tasks are the same as another’s. The more I looked at other people’s routines, the more I became convinced that the best cleaning plan is the individualized one. We all have different homes, schedules, number of people in our homes and hobbies, so it’s very unlikely that one person’s schedule would work for the next. Other people’s lists are a great resource, however. Instead of using them as my list, I used them as the inspiration to create my own.
Here are the steps to think through to come up with the routine that will be the most successful for you:
STEP ONE: Identify all of the tasks by writing them down
Start at one end of your house and think through everything that needs to be done in that room/area to make it spotless. Do this for each room/area. Do not get overwhelmed. Writing them on the list does NOT mean that you have to go do all of them right now – or even anytime soon. It simply acknowledges the task. I was pleasantly surprised by how short (translation: manageable) my list was.
STEP TWO: Assign the frequency for each task (Daily, Bi-Weekly, Weekly, Bi-Monthly, Monthly, Seasonally, Annually).
There are two ways to look at this. If you’re the type of person that likes to stay on top of things and doesn’t easily get overwhelmed, schedule them more than they actually need to get done (for example, I have vacuum floors as a daily task, when in reality, it should be done 4-5 times a week) and just skip it when it’s not absolutely necessary. However, if you’re the type of person who gets overwhelmed by long lists of to-do’s, schedule your tasks less than they need to get done and you’re more likely to do the things on your list.
STEP THREE: Identify the blocks of time you have (or need to make) for cleaning
Make this work for you. If you’re the type of person who likes to do a little bit at a time, then think through your day and set aside one block of time each day for cleaning. If you would rather get it all done in one fell swoop, then figure out when that time is. When I was working full time, I had my lunch hour, a half hour in the evening (while my husband did the bedtime routine with our daughter) and Saturday mornings. Now that I’m home most days, I break it up between Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. As our family schedule changes, so will my cleaning routine.
STEP FOUR: Match up the chores with your cleaning times
I mentioned earlier that I was pleasantly surprised by how short and manageable my cleaning list was. I was even more pleasantly surprised after I assigned the tasks to days. When I realized that in order to have my house clean all the time (which it never is, but, if I stuck to this routine, realistically could be), I had to spend an average of an hour a day cleaning, I couldn’t believe it. I thought, for sure, that it would take a LOT longer than that. And I certainly didn’t think that I’d be able to stay on top of things by having days when I didn’t do anything but my daily chores.
I’m not sure if this would be true for everyone, but after a couple months of this new routine, the best part, for me, has been the freedom from feeling bad about not doing things. Because my old “system” – or lack thereof – was reactionary, if I saw something that needed to be done and procrastinated it, I just saw it get worse and felt bad. Now, if it’s mopping day and it doesn’t get done, I don’t feel bad because I know that I just did it last week and I will do it next week.
Try this out and let me know what works well for you. Do you have other hurdles when trying to stay on top of this?
And, because I said that other people’s routines can be a good resource, here is my list: