A friend of mine recently shared this blog which claims to help recovering Type-A moms prioritize people, not tasks, during the day to day of mom life. A few of our mutual friends began a commenting frenzy talking about how this revamped their housework style.
I didn’t read it; I’m not Type A.
Then one gal piped up and essentially said “I’m not Type A, but this was helpful.”
Hmmmmmm…maybe being a productive housekeeper does not only belong in the realm of type-A moms after all. Maybe something that was helping the overachievers achieve less (in a less is more sort of way), could also help the *ahem* lessthanacheivers achieve more (in a more is more sort of way)….
My own house was not in a great state, I knew I needed to get back into the swing of things, but things were soooooo different now than they were a couple months ago. My old routine was not working anymore and may never work again. Honestly my old routine wasn’t that great anyway.
In the past I had each day given to one main task. That meant 7 tasks total each week and I cycled through them. This is what it looked like:
- Monday was supposed to be laundry day, the only day of the week I would devote to laundry (my most despised task).
- Tuesday was supposed to be meal planning, meal prep, clean kitchen day.
- Wednesday was supposed to be tackle bedroom day
- Thursday was cleaning the bathroom
- Friday was cleaning the living room
- Saturday was odd jobs and hallways
- Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest, but i was always meal planning, doing laundry and catching up on things that had built up during the week.
When I’d miss a day, things got out of hand very quickly. If we were gone on a Monday, did I do laundry on Tuesday or wait for another week? Sundays were never ever restful. Important things like paying bills on time fell through the cracks. I felt guilty for taking time to do something fun like decorating a monthly mantel when the living room was a total disaster.
I read the post. It was short and to the point, which was nice. She included things like watering the plants and dusting as part of her looping schedule soooooo she’s definitely more Type-A than me even in her recovering state.
I jotted down some ideas in my planner about what I needed to prioritize and decided to give it a try. I even made a weekly goal to follow through with the looping schedule for 5 out of 7 days. Pro tip: If you are going to take the energy of making a goal, please make it measurable and achievable! Do NOT go from nothing to everything and think “I’m going to revamp my life today, lose 10lb by the end of the week, and buy a new deep freeze to store all the freezer meals I’ll make this month. yeah!” no. take small, consistent, reliable steps when you make changes in your routine.
For two whole days in a row I kept up with my loopy housekeeping schedule. It was a new record and I was feeling optimistic.
Then the flux of living life rolled through, we took a rather spontaneous trip overnight to see my side of the family, Angelina had an overnight stay at the hospital, Roman decided to build up his crying stamina, grace days had to happen.
It’s been a full month since I started the looping housekeeping approach and it has SURVIVED, maybe even flourished, despite one day never being the same as the next. What I’ve done on days when housekeeping was not an option was I simply didn’t do housekeeping. It was a totally new concept! Look, I just skipped a day right there when I was with Angelina at the hospital and then picked up the loop on the next day. On days when the kitchen looks worse for wear or I notice a pile forming in a bedroom, I can deal with it then if time allows or I can reassure myself that it will be dealt with, and move on with my day. It’s set me free to not try to do everything at once (which always led to me never accomplishing anything at all).
I’ll add that this housekeeping is on top of the most basic daily sanity measures I take for main areas of the house. I do wipe down the bathroom and keep the counters cleared in there daily, I do sweep the floors daily (my beloved dog sheds an afghan a day), I clean the kitchen counters and start the dishwasher after the kids are in bed, and the kids tidy the living room before bed *almost* every day. My husband helps keep the kids on track during their cleanup efforts, he also often unloads and loads the dishwasher and is an incredibly tidy person. Without his efforts and encouragement (and patience) our house would be pure chaos.
This is ideally what the living room looks like when I wake up in the morning:
With a month of success under my belt, I am ready to tweak this loop idea just a tiny bit. First, setting up laundry, bathroom, kitchen, laundry,living room all in a row followed by basement, bedrooms and hallways/storage meant that I had 5 successive days of very busy messy spaces followed by 3 days of not all that urgent demands. I decided to switch things up a bit and swap kitchen and bedroom days.
And here is the second tweak. See this:
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. A day of rest from housekeeping! All the basic stuff will still be taken care of because that is just life, but I won’t add another focus on Sundays. I’ve written out October already with my loop and it just so happens to work out perfectly! I always have two laundry days (bane of my existence though they are) and everything works out from there.
I don’t think my looping system is precisely what the other blog had in mind when she described her system, and that’s okay! She has older kids who all have their own cleaning responsibilities, my loop system will probably look significantly different in a year or two.
For my fellow moms of littles who need a loopy system, here is a breakdown of mine:
Laundry – First thing when you wake up in the morning look at the ceiling and think “It’s a laundry day. Today my focus is laundry.” say it out loud if that helps. I usually start this the night before with one load of laundry, it helps to already have the ball rolling when you wake up in the morning. While the kids are eating breakfast and my husband is still home I go from room to room gathering up all the clothes laundry. (do not worry about linens, kitchen towels, or bathroom towels right now, they can work into other days, if you don’t have as large a family and you want to do all laundry including linens, go for it, this works into your rhythm of your life!) Get that first load in the dryer and another one going in the wash and set a timer! When the timer goes off, go change the laundry. Set the timer again and repeat. Fold clothes in the living room, put one sibling in charge of not letting another sibling unfold everything OR give everyone a pile of doll clothes / clean diapers and let them try their hand at folding clothes. “Help” kids put away their own clothes by being in the room and cueing them for every. single. item. I like to tell myself that by doing this now, I’ll have kids who can do laundry on their own sooner than later. On laundry days I ask questions like does anything need to be mended or tossed? Have the kids outgrown this? Is this still seasonally appropriate?
Bathroom – Wipe down walls, clean shower/bath, deep clean toilet, wash all surfaces, mop. Wash all towels, rug, and cleaning rags. I open the cupboards and assess if I’m running low on anything including toilet paper, shampoo, bubble bath, band aides etc. I keep my planner handy and write down anything I need to add to my shopping list. I pay attention to things that need fixin like the broken toilet seat lid, and leaking pipe behind the sink and either fix them that day or get the ball rolling on them being taken care of. I dust the mini blinds, vent, and light fixtures. There is a good chance I don’t get all this done in one go. In the morning while washing my face I may take a moment to wash the mirrors. While one kid is taking a bath I might wipe down the walls. However it happens, my extra energy and attention goes towards the bathroom on that day.
Bedrooms – In the morning while my husband is still home (maybe he’s even taken the kids on a walk. He is an incredible husband and dad!) I go through the rooms and strip the beds. I start a load of linens going in the wash and set the timer. Next I walk through the rooms with a broom and sweep up everything. We keep the kid bedrooms pretty sparse for now, all toys are kept in the living room. Bedrooms are for storing clothes and sleeping. Angelina has a dust broom in her room and she eagerly sweeps up her space and does a good job at it too! Della also has a little kid broom (from aldi) and she sweeps as well. I wipe down the blinds with a dust cloth, get any cob webs in corners, and take stock of what the rooms may need or benefit from. The master bedroom requires the most attention because it is the corral for all random things. I try to clear off the bedside tables and dresser, toss junk mail that has somehow made it in, and find homes for the random things. Replace any light bulbs, dust spaces, make the rooms feel clean and cozy.
Living Room – Vaccum. That takes a loooooong time. Again, best done in the morning when the floor is still cleared up from last night’s kid clean up session. Dust. Take stock of items in the room. During winter when we have a ton of snuggle blankets I try to get them in the wash. Any toys need to be washed (kids can do that in the kitchen sink). Can any toys be tossed or given away? Maybe it’s time to swap out some of the children’s books. Wash the windows, another kid friendly chore.
Basement – Our basement is huge and extremely disorganized. It hold the laundry zone, has an extra bathroom, a deep freeze, and has the potential to hold a guest room, craft room, storage, and winter playroom. Right now it just holds stuff in one big jumble. I go down there with the goal of sorting and feel my energy and willpower drain away. So I haven’t done anything. For years. And the stuff that was originally down there is now proud great-grand parents of generations of other stuff. With a focus day for the basement I try to get a box or two cleared out, sweep out corner and try to keep mold at bay. It’s kind of a finished space but also very rough, dark, damp and not welcoming. If we own this house, whipping the basement into a clean, bright, welcoming space would be a high priority especially considering our growing family and the loooooong winters. For now we make do with what it is.
Kitchen – Wash all kitchen towels. (I have a beautiful basket that acts as a laundry hmper in the kitchen. I do generally wash kitchen towels once between kitchen days because I can’t let damp towels sit around for that long) Wash cupboards, organize pantry, clean out fridge and freezer, clean oven, clean stove fan, pull out oven to clean behind it, clean behind fridge, wipe down walls, clean light fixtures, clean microwave and tea/coffee area. I do not do all these things every single kitchen day, I do what I can.
Hallways/Storage – sweep hallways, clean with my wood floor cocktail and rag (kid friendly) wipe down walls, get cobwebs out of corners, clean light fixtures, make the entry way tidy and welcoming, sort out coat closet, air out linen cupboard, tackle an area of the house that has gotten out of hand (usually the little kitchen office desk where things build up)
And there you have it. If you are new to the concept of housekeeping and feel overwhelmed by all this, check out Organized Simplicity – it is motivational and very accessible. If you want a more thorough breakdown of every single detail of housekeeping, go read Home Comforts, it is a truly remarkable resource! I’ve reviewed both these books before but they are worth mentioning again.