Friday, October 7, 2011

How I Do It: Chores

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A little photo explanation. One day last year sometime, a group of ladies were commenting on my cleaning and the jokes got going until I took a picture of my red heels with my scrub brush. I titled it "just another cleaning day." 

That isn't really what cleaning is like around here. I do my best to keep things clean without being a slave to cleaning. I value a clean home, but I want to do more in life than clean. How do I do it?

What: Cleaning
When: Throughout the day
Where: At my house
Why: I value a clean home
How: Just do it/Enlist help/Plan ahead

What: Cleaning
Let me first make it clear that my house is not perfectly clean at all times. Oh no. You know those family members I have? They tend to make messes at all times. Therefore, the only way to have a clean house at all times is to either A)not have family members or B)follow family members around all day cleaning. I guess I could throw in C)nag family members all day long to clean up after themselves. I don't really find any of these options appealing. 

I have a few levels of goals. One is that I always try to keep my house at a point that I wouldn't be embarressed if someone randomly walked through it. I have had my embarrasing moments, but really only with other moms who have the same three issues I listed above. We all understand each other. So it doesn't worry me. By the way, I am aware that not all people have a "perfectly clean house" on their list of things they really care about. My mom is one of those people. Anyway, level one for me is that my house is ready at all times for drop-ins. 

I also want my house to be sanitary. I want dishes done. I want us to wear clean clothes. I want bathrooms clean. So I clean in order to have things sanitary. I also do what I call deep cleaning because I have a value for that. I will get more into the "whys" I clean below. What is just cleaning.

When: Throughout the Day
I have a few points in the day I clean.

1. Post-Breakfast
I first do some cleaning after breakfast. I at least get breakfast cleaned up. If there is extra time, I will spend it in the kitchen.

2. Daily Chore
I have a daily goal each week. I have talked about this in the past so you might be familiar with it. I do laundry Monday and Tuesday, dust the house Wednesday, clean bathrooms Thursday, floors Friday, and any extra is Saturday. I would love to get this all done in a day, but it just doesn't happen for me. So I break them down into baby chores. 

I try to do this first chance I get in the morning. I also try to involve the children who are home. We will usually do it after everyone is ready for the day.

2. Post-Lunch
I used to really follow my children around cleaning up, but I found I was cleaning all day AND I was irritated that they kept making messes! I decided I couldn't keep things perfectly clean and needed to have a point in the day for picking up. I tend to do this post-lunch. So I clean up lunch stuff and then pick up the little things that have been spread out around the main area of the house. Another option is to do this just before nap time ends. I like to do it post-lunch (right before nap time) so I can enjoy the cleanliness all nap time. Things stay clean then :)

Recently, a friend was working full time while her husband was staying home full time. It was a short, one-month thing. During that month, the husband started going crazy trying to keep the house clean (I loved hearing him complain about things--the same things frustrated him that frustrate all women). I told him he needed to choose a couple of points in the day to do the cleaning, and the rest of the day just forget about it--otherwise he would go crazy. 

3. Post Dinner
Are you noticing a meal trend? This is part of my "how," but after dinner everyone has a chore for the day they are responsible for that they do.

4. Pre-bed
Right before bed, the whole family helps clean up every bedroom and family room. We clean it all up. This is so super helpful to me.

I work in some deep cleaning tasks in the day if I have a chance. I don't deep clean every day (though I did back when I had two children). I just can't do it all now, so deep cleaning does not happen every day. For more on my deep cleaning, see Deep Cleaning List.

Where: At My House
Enough said.

Why: I Value a Clean Home
I like a clean house. I believe that having a clean home brings peace to the soul (I know it brings peace to my soul). So I put in the effort to keep it as clean as I can without being a crazy lady.

How: Just do it/Enlist help/Plan ahead

Just do it
I am a work before play sort of gal. Putting it off doesn't make it any better. These things often take far less time than you think it will. So I do it as soon as I can in the day so it is over and done with. 

Enlist Help
Since the members of my family help create the mess, I enlist their help to clean it up. I have them clean their own dishes  from the table. They have daily chores. They help me. They clean up after themselves. Once the child is old enough to be making the mess all over, she is old enough to help clean it up. A person tends to think more about the mess she is making when she knows she will be involved in cleaning it--not just making it. For more on how I enlist help, see:

Plan Ahead
Have your plan for your points in the day to clean. Have a plan for what to do in that day. Decide if you like it better to do everything all in one day or to spread it over the week. Decide what to do what days. One thing I did was make this book to organize my cleaning goals:

Other Helps
Some people need some extra help to get moving. I know my mom loves Fly Lady. There are lots of helpful sites out there, so if you have a favorite, be sure to share!

Sometimes just knowing some tricks can make you more efficient. Reading books with info on cleaning can help you be more efficient either with your time spent or your methods used. I personally love the Queen of Clean. See Book Recommendation: How The Queen Cleans Everything.

As you figure out how you want to do it, start with analyzing your goals. What level of expectations do you have for your cleaning? What level of clean do you want? Also, be prepared to change these expectations and goals as your children get older and grow in number. One child usually doesn't make too big of a mess, but you add one child to that and the mess more than doubles.

Once you decide what you want done, decide when you want to do it, and how you want to do it. You will get in your own personal groove for how you like things done.

Please note an important HINT to keeping your home clean. Your home will be much easier to keep clean if you have a place for everything to go. If everything has a home, it is easy to put it away. If you have more stuff than space, look into space saving techniques and also declutter.

Another HINT is to do your best to clean as you go. That way, each mess is relatively small. When you have a place for everything, it is easy to clean as you are done using an item.

Please share how you do it! How do you get your cleaning done? What resources do you like? Is there an app you love? A book? A website? What methods do you use? Any great HINTS?

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