When you’re a mom of young kids, much of your housecleaning time involves putting out fires.
Today so far I’ve:
- Wiped up 3 water or milk spills courtesy of toddler
- Picked up strewn books, toys, etc off floor
- Changed toddler outfit twice
- Wiped purple marker off the hardwood floors
- Cleaned up lotion that toddler squeezed all over the floor and herself
- Tried, unsuccessfully, to scrub Sharpie marker artwork off my white antique desk (there goes that toddler again!)
Of course, I also did several actual regular cleaning tasks such as:
- Cleaned the kitchen (unloaded/loaded dishwasher, wiped counters multiple times)
- Took out trash – twice
- Vacuumed living room
- Cleaned the table
- Stripped bed linens
You see how, with all of these little cleaning tasks going on, it’s difficult to get to the important weekly and monthly cleaning chores?
The thing about these particular jobs is that they are what make a home actually smell and look clean. If you have a few toys scattered about your living room but your windows are clean and the baseboards not dingy, the room still looks nice.
The challenge is to figure out how to actually GET those monthly and weekly tasks accomplished.
I often lament to my husband that I spend too much time picking up general detritus left about the central living areas. By the time I’m done with that, I’m too tired or busy to do the important cleaning tasks. It’s not an unwillingness, it’s just a lack of time and womanpower.
Also, I find that completing the bigger cleaning tasks actually make me feel far more productive and happy.
By contrast, niggley jobs (like picking up people’s junk left about) makes me extremely grumpy.
Hopefully, no longer. I realized I needed a system. So I grabbed pencil and paper and walked from room to room.
I made a list of all the cleaning tasks that need to be done in my home.
I didn’t include daily pick up tasks like cleaning the kitchen and such. This was just for weekly and monthly items. Stuff like cleaning the kitchen cabinet fronts, sanitizing the trash cans, and wiping the baseboards.
Then I decided whether the particular chore needed to be done weekly or monthly.
Living in a large family means that some jobs that are weekly to some families (like vacuuming and mopping and cleaning bathrooms) are done daily or every other day. By the same token, some things that are done weekly in many homes (dusting) just aren’t a priority to me, so that’s a monthly thing!
Turns out there were fewer than 30 weekly/monthly cleaning chores in all. Sounds like one a day, doesn’t it?
I printed out a calendar where each day has one weekly/monthly cleaning task assigned to it.
I even get two days off if the month has 31 days.
It was a bit tricky, because I had to remember to schedule the weekly tasks… well, weekly. They had to repeat. But the monthly jobs only show up on the calendar once each month. Most of these chores only take from 10-20 minutes. When I’ve finished, I strike it off of my list.
I also ask for help. Sadie, 6, in particular loves to attack a cleaning job with me. (Now getting her to clean her room is another matter entirely!) The other day when the chore was to scrub the bathroom floors with Oxi-Clean, she spotted me on hands and knees with the scrub brush and asked if she could do it instead. She did a great job.
How’s it working so far?
Actually, pretty good. I’m still feeling rotten some days and I’ll admit that many days I just skip it. But that’s ok. When I’m back to my old self I know I won’t have a problem getting these things all checked off.
Having the calendar gives me peace of mind. Leaving it up to chance means that things don’t get done as much and I feel, oddly, more overwhelmed. Having a PLAN feels great and puts me back in control.
How do you work out doing those weekly and monthly cleaning chores?
If it would be helpful, you can download my calendar here.