It’s been all quiet on the blog (aside from State of the Weight) because I’ve been in the process of slaying another item on the 31 for 31 list.
One of my goals for this year was to get our house to the point of being presentable and keeping it that way.
Oh, you’re in the neighborhood and want to drop by? Okay, cool. Do that, please. My house is ready(ish) for you.
From March until now I’ve been, uh, well, not so much keeping my house presentable. My bad.
It got to the point where the clutter and the mess and the chaos were making me anxious. And also I thought the dust bunnies were probably forming a small militia. Our exterminator came three weeks ago for our quarterly service and I just had to close the bedroom door and not let him into it because I was ashamed of the state of the space.
So, last week, on kind of a whim but not really (since this had been something that I needed to do), I developed a plan to get my house clean and keep it that way. I devised a weekly cleaning schedule, printed it out, and put it up on the wall to keep us all accountable.
My plan was (mostly) simple. Start at one end of the house and work my way to the other, room by room. Each room of the house gets one day of the week and then there are the Dailies: laundry, dishes, and toy pick-up.
Laundry can run whenever during the day. Some days laundry is just diapers. Other days, I knock out a couple of loads. Basically, whatever I can get to that day, I do. Doing one load of diapers is still doing the laundry.
Dishes must be done and I’m a little ashamed to admit that Dan and I are both fans of waiting to see if the other person will do it. Not anymore. Now dishes get done right after dinner before we do baths and bedtime. One of us handles the dishes while the other helps the kids pick up toys.
I designated Monday as kitchen day for two reasons. One, mine was in need of a deep and thorough cleaning and two, we’re all home on the weekends and the kitchen is a hard-hit room. Starting the week by cleaning it made sense. (I also added taking out the trash on Mondays because we have a Tuesday pick-up.)
Trying to clean a room–REALLY clean a room–with two kids on the loose is, well, like trying to make a tree stand still in a wind storm. In short, damn near impossible. Monday was quite the anxiety-ridden day.
There was stopping and starting and stopping and more starting and after an entire day of cleaning bits and pieces of the kitchen, the whole thing was clean. Top to bottom. Cabinets, countertops, the stove, and microwave were all wiped, the floors were swept and mopped. It was CLEAN.
And then I walked into the living room and all of the toys were all over the floor and I actually felt the air whoosh out of my lungs. It felt like defeat. Eight hours to clean a kitchen and now this mess in the living room. I cried.
I had some friends offer up some perspective about kids and toys and messes and then we picked it all up as part of the Dailies and put the kids to bed and I tackled the living room the next day.
Tuesday: Living Room/Dining Room
I started the morning by clearing out the junk mail, putting the shoes that collect by the front door in a basket, finding homes for all the random things I unearthed, dusting the bookshelves, and then ended the day vacuuming the rug and floors. (My vacuum has a floors setting! No sweeping! AMAZING!)
Before bed we did the Dailies again.
Wednesday: Master Bedroom
Here’s where I had to modify my plan. The last time that all of the everything was put away and the master bedroom was completely, totally, 100% clean was the night before Emma was born. It has been in various stages of clean since then, but yeah. 14 months of having at least a pile of laundry somewhere.
I knew going into last Wednesday that there was no way I was cleaning that entire room in one day and decided to work the master bedroom in stages. I did what I could and then tomorrow I’ll do a little more. Eventually, it’ll be to the point where I’m just maintaining, but right now, I’m being realistic about what I can reasonably do by myself in a day while I’m also caring for kids who need me to keep them from doing things like swan diving off the furniture. Baby steps. And more Dailies.
Thursday: Kids’ Rooms
Joshua’s room is simple to clean. I’ve never really put his toys in there so the biggest mess is usually his books and his laundry. I took him in with me and he and I cleaned his room together. Which really means that I cleaned his room and he handed me books, but hey, we’re starting this whole “clean your room” thing, right? He’s 4. A for Effort.
Emma’s room was a slightly different story only because of the giant baby stuff that was still set up in there that she hasn’t used since November. Like the swing. And the Rock-n-Play. And various things she’s outgrown that needed a home. And the pile of clean diaper laundry on the floor for easy access instead of put away in the dresser.
I took apart the swing and stored it and the Rock-n-Play. I sorted the clothes she can’t wear anymore. I put the diapers in a drawer. She was absolutely no help in this process. Not shocking. Also, Dailies.
My rationale for cleaning the bathrooms on Friday is that if we’re going to have guests over, planned guests, that is, that would more than likely occur on the weekend, so cleaning the bathrooms before heading into the weekend made sense. Joshua pitched in by moving the trash can from one side of the toilet to the other while I swept and by picking up the wayward laundry that he had left on the floor. Always there is laundry. Even with the Dailies.
The only tasks on the list for Saturday are the Dailies. This way, Saturday can be a project day. Cleaning out a closet or two. Finishing something I’ve already started. ::shudder:: Baseboards. Or, you know, NOT doing anything except having fun. And doing laundry.
Everyone needs a day to rest. There’s a good chance I’m probably always going to do laundry and dishes on Sunday, but if the toys don’t get picked up, there’s always the next day.
In fact, on any given day, I try not to look at the other rooms. Yesterday was Monday and my focus was on the kitchen, so I didn’t focus on the laundry in the bedroom. I can’t clean the kitchen AND put away the laundry at the same time. One task at a time is clutch.
What I’ve found after only a week and 2 days of sticking with this plan is that my brain feels way less chaotic. Seriously. I feel more peaceful because I don’t sense all the stuff just crowding me into a corner of the couch.
I yell less.
We play MORE because we’re not suffering from option paralysis of having too many toys out at once.
I needed to simplify my life by making a plan that cut out the unnecessary details frittering away all of my attention.
By focusing on only one task a day, I don’t get overwhelmed by trying to do all of the tasks at once.
I am just one person. I cannot do it all.
But having this hanging on the wall is a reminder that there is a manageable way to keep our house clean. We all pitch in and BAM! It’s done. And I don’t feel like I’m going crazy from the chaos anymore.
Want to feel less crazy in your space? You can print your own copy, too!
(A little note: Not all 8 x 10 frames are created equal in Sweden. I used an Ikea frame and had to trim the printable to fit. Meh. Small price to pay for a clean house, right? Right!)