Thursday, August 12, 2010

truth #2

Continuing on with three truths and one lie, here is truth #2.

Let's talk about something thrilling and sexy, shall we? Something that will rev your engine and give you shivers of anticipation. Let's talk

House cleaning, to be exact. I told you that the recent introduction of a revolutionary housekeeping technique has literally changed my life. And it's all true.

First an introduction. I have often felt that this whole mothering/stay-at-home/house wifery business should be approached like swimming in a pool of cold water. The key is to wade in. Slowly. Of course it doesn't work that way. Mothering/stay-at-home/house wifery is a dump-you-in / sink-or-swim venture. In most cases, I have done more sinking than swimming. And it's only now, after I've been doing it for two and a half years that I've started to find my stride.

But there's a reason that I've found my stride and it has to do with house cleaning specifically. See, my old protocol for house cleaning was still based on my former life, the life of someone working outside the home. Someone who stumbled into the house around 6pm and felt like she was never home. Someone who wasn't about to do any cleaning during the week. So we did all our cleaning on Saturdays. Chip and I, we woke up Saturday morning and divided the household tasks and then just plowed ahead. Which was... not a good method. We usually wound up only getting one third of the chores done, and those under extreme duress (nagging has usually been involved and it's not pretty).

What precipitated the change was a conversation that Chip and I had about this whole idea of stewardship---- but that topic is one for a whole blog post in and of itself. Let's just put a pin in it and come back to it another day, okay? What came about after the discussion of stewardship was some deep digging on my part, deep into my role in our family: my expectations for myself--- what I would like to (and what I feel I should) get done, and what I was actually doing. There was a sizeable discrepency. And let me just say that Chip's role in this soul searching was sideline only. He isn't some high-and-mighty dude who's all, "YOU ARE WOMAN - YOU DO CLEANING." But at the same time, we have a fairly traditional arrangement here, and I'm of the opinion that the one who is doing the stay-at-home-job should also be captain of the household and all it contains therein.

So. I realized that I was doing the housekeeping/cleaning ALL WRONG. And wasn't taking advantage of all the days during the week. So I split up all the cleaning chores, room-by-room, and divided them up into ten groups. Each group is designated a day for cleaning once during a two-week period. For instance, every other Monday I clean the master bedroom. Every other Tuesday I clean stairwell and upstairs hallway (and also vacuum the upstairs). The kitchen gets done every week.

You guys, it has CHANGED MY LIFE. Instead of griping and complaining that we have SO MUCH TO DO on Saturday, and spending the entire day trying to get it all done, all I do on Saturday is the laundry and whatever random cleaning/yard related thing needs to be done. The rest of the days I'm spending like 30 minutes cleaning something. That's it. And over time I've found that as I keep up with the cleaning, I'm able to focus on some deep-level organizing when I'm taking care of that specific part of the house. I should add that I don't let the rooms that aren't on the cleaning schedule just fall into disaray and pit of filth. I tidy things up all the time, and try to leave a room better than I found it. I do the dishes every day and just clean as I go. Something that I've pretty much done all along. But this whole routine has opened up our schedule, it's made Saturdays SO MUCH BETTER, and the house--- it's CLEAN. Like, all the time.

Brilliant. And it has totally changed my life.

Tell me--- what's your cleaning routine? Do you have any lifesaving tips that are going to CHANGE OUR LIVES FOREVER? If so, do share.


Shelly Overlook said...

Oooooh, this sounds like a fabulous system. I may have to try it myself. I go in spurts so I end up cleaning all bathrooms in one day (blech!) which takes hours and involves me getting irritated at my kid who is BORED when I am so much otherwise engaged.

Midnight Rambler said...

I have absolutely no system whatsoever. If there is even remotely a system, it's ... "oh my gosh, I have so much work to do and I'll never make my deadline. So, I know, I'll totally file all our accounts today and vacuum my office." (Which is exactly how my day is progressing so far ... deadline still looming, but dang, it feels good to finally have all the filing done). But, I love your system and I think I might steal it. We'll see, as I'm no good with routines and systems. But I am willing to give it a go (and Mr. J will love me even more if I follow thru).

Bird said...

I also do this so I have specific tasks for certain days. Overall I think it makes the housework seem less daunting but at times it makes me feel like I'm doing housework every day and it never ends (which is kind of true.) But overall, a good system.

Beths said...

This reminds me very much of the FLY Lady system, which I did for awhile. It's extremely cheesy, but there's something to it, definitely.

Basically, my routine now is to just not clean at all. On weekdays (and usually Saturdays too, which is my recovery day), we are too exhausted. So, sometimes, on Sundays, when I am feeling inspired, I will go into a tirade and require that all fun be suspended until everyone has cleaned sufficiently. And by cleaned, I just mean picked up very little. Like, just trash, dishes, laundry, and some toys. My house is basically a pigsty. Which is funny because I'm a total OCD person with tidiness. Everyone at work assumes my house is spotless. They make fun of me because they say I have nothing on my desk. I'm a chronic purger.

If only my house could be that way. It's impossible with two working parents, four children, two schools, appointments, getting home every night right around bedtimes, etc. Ugh.

Erin P said...

I love that system! I think my mother had a similar one, as I recall--laundry on Monday, bathrooms one day, vacuuming another. I'm much more in line with Beths--get home late in the day, exhausted...clean only if someone's coming over. And, if absolutely critical, call in the emergency Merry Maids. That's rare, but an important "out" in an emergency.

But I can really identify with how you organize your staying home life, and appreciate your point of view on that.

Rose said...

I do that too! And I like FlyLady too!

I don't suppose it will change your life, but I try to do the "passive" chores first. That means chores that I can do something while the chore is doing itself.

In other words, I load the dishwasher and let it run, and then I clean the rest of the kitchen, etc...

Or I run loads of laundry and go do something else.