photo: Our Beach House
How to keep a house clean
hen I was a younger mom, I was forever making up lists and methods to keep track of everything from organization to daily routines. I had notebooks and files and all sorts of systems involving complicated color coding and chore tracking devices. The problem was, once I would get the systems all set up, I would fail miserably at using them. I had made housekeeping more complicated than it needed to be. I felt like I was always behind and my house seemed on the verge of chaos.
In my endeavor to live life more fully, I’m always evaluating things I want to incorporate into my life and what things I DON’T want. I want to have a beautifully decorated, clean and organized home, but there are other things in life that are important to me too. I want my home to be in order so I am free to nurture relationships and enjoy living, but I don’t want to be a slave to my housekeeping routines.
So, how do I balance it all? I keep it simple.
Over the years I’ve found I can focus on four basic housekeeping routines that work for me, and I’m sticking to them. I can add other things, of course, but these are the tried and true basics. By breaking it down, I feel I can manage my life, instead of my house taking over my life.
Here is what I focus on every day:
1. Morning routines. I have found that having a regular morning routine works best for me. This involves at the very least: some quiet time, making the bed, taking a shower (hanging up my towel when I am done, of course!), putting on very simple makeup and getting dressed right down to my shoes. I always toss in a load of laundry as I am getting dressed. I find if I start out the day with those few things, I am ready for anything.
2. Clean sinks. I learned the Fly lady system back when my son was born. I was taking care of him and my two grade school girls and during the day I was watching my nephew who was born five weeks before my son. All that and working part-time! With four kids taking over my tiny house, I ran into frustration over having too much to handle. Fly lady to the rescue! She broke it down for me and I listened: clean and shiny sinks, always.
I follow this principle both in our bathrooms and the kitchen. Something about striving for that shiny sink keeps me from letting dirty dishes pile up in the kitchen and icky stuff like hair and spit greeting me every time I pass through the bathroom.
3. Cleaning frenzies. Since the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I have utilized what we call “cleaning frenzies” to give our home a quick clean up. A cleaning frenzy might last ten minutes or even up to an hour. But everyone participates, including the kids. We run around picking things up, putting things back, and generally tidying things up.
Sometimes we focus on one room; sometimes it is an entire house frenzy. Sometimes it is a task frenzy, like dusting or cleaning all toilets! It works like a charm to make a big impact in a short period of time. Even one “10-minute cleaning frenzy” a day keeps the frustration away.
4. Nightly kitchen clean up. Every night, almost without fail, we clean the kitchen. We put away dishes, load the final dishwasher load of the day, wipe off counters, and polish up the sink. There is nothing like waking up to a clean kitchen to make your day feel less overwhelming.
If I have my basic routines down, my home stays “clean enough” most of the time. Keeping up on things means I rarely feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done! When my home is maintained on a daily basis, it is really easy to add in a few extra tasks now and then to really shine things up or get things organized.
But if I let my daily routines go, my house soon spirals out of control. My house isn’t perfect by any means, but I am OK with that. It is CLEAN ENOUGH! I’m sticking to my tried and true basics. No more complicated chore charts for me!
What are your tried and true routines?
What is your biggest area of frustration in keeping your house clean?
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