Household Management Series: Simple & Joyful Cleaning

It’s 8:30 am on Saturday morning, and it looks like a bomb went off in my house.  Shameless photos forthcoming…

The past week was consumed with crunch time preparations leading up to Michael’s art show last night.  Right now there are boxes of table décor, trays, and stacks of cocktail napkins on my counter.  The bottom of my insulated cooler bag used to haul the grapes, cheese, crackers etc, is saturated in olive juice.  There is a stack of weekly laundry in a corner in the hallway upstairs – it’s not even in a basket.  There is something mysterious and sticky on the kitchen floor, and a strange smell coming from the trash can.  The only thing that I was able to do yesterday before leaving for the show was to wipe down the bathroom sink, the toilet, and make the beds.  You know what? That is good enough.  All of that mess got us this beautiful food table at the art show…which was DIY’s be myself and a friend:

I wouldn’t have purposefully had an impromptu after party at our house last night, but if I did get stormed with friends at the door, then I wouldn’t have totally died of embarrassment.  The reason is because I have done my cleaning on a cycle for long enough that it can go a week with only touch ups when we get busy.  The cleaning cycle is clutch for a happy and busy life.

I have found that when you put a cleaning cycle into your routine, it takes only 30 minutes to 1 hour per day and everything gets done a little at a time.  This means that the rest of the time you get to live life.

The structure is very easy; there are daily chores like dishes and sweeping, and weekly chores like dusting and vacuuming.  Then there is weekly deep cleaning chores for a specific area.  For instance, week 1 of the month is the kitchen and dining room.  Week 2 is the living room and entry.  You get to customize this to what makes sense for you. Thinking in terms of what makes the most sense is how you beat overwhelm.

The how to…

Cycle cleaning isn’t something I though of, it’s just something that I’ve improved upon and customized for myself.  When I was newly married (the first time), I found this wonderful women online who called herself the Flylady.  Her system is simple and structured broken up into tidbits throughout the week. It is a wonderful launching pad for anyone looking to begin a household cleaning schedule.

I began by using her detailed cleaning lists per room, and then added or subtracted my own tasks based on the needs and layout of my own homes.  By making a master list of everything that I want done room by room, I can do the deeper tasks by rotation and never have to try and remember when the last time I washed the curtains was.  I may not wash the woodwork every month, or even every 3 months, but eventually it does get done because it’s on the list.

Below is a snapshot of my own personal detailed cleaning list.  I didn’t get fancy, I didn’t make a cute printable, it’s just legal paper that I laminated.  When I do a task, I mark it off with a dry erase marker.  When I come back around the following 4-6 weeks, I will start with the tasks that are not marked off.  I also keep a list of all of my household cleaning products at the top so that I can do inventory at the end of my cleaning.  I make a lot of my own cleaners, but when I am low on what I do purchase, I add it to the grocery list.  This way I’m not buying everything all at once…

Here are the chores that I do daily:

  • Wash dishes
  • Make beds
  • Deep clean counters & stove top
  • Sweep floors
  • Wipe down bathroom pieces
  • Tidy & put away

Here are the chores that I do weekly:

  • Laundry & Ironing
  • Dusting every room
  • Wash all floors

Prior to partaking in my deep zone cleaning, I make sure that all of my daily and weekly chores are done.  This way if I need to stop for any reason, the bare necessities have been completed.

Take into account your energy levels & lifestyle…

The other aspect of a joyful cleaning cycle is to manage your energy.  I may have too much going on to wash every room’s woodwork every month, but then again there may be a month where it does get done.  Tasks such as cleaning the ceiling fan, washing the inside and outside of the windows, taking down the blinds; these tasks may not get done monthly, but the next time you come though to deep clean you add them in.

In order to build a system that works, considering your lifestyle needs to be a factor.  For instance, to save my kitchen floor, I purchased a weather proof deck box.  It was about $50 and it’s impenetrable.  Since we enter into the house from the backyard most of the time, my personal rule is that I either change my shoes before I leave the barn for home, or put my barn boots in the deck box before entering the house. This is a simple idea that saves me from the inevitable extra sweeping/mopping had I worn the shoes to cross the kitchen and into the basement.  Simple evaluation will be more than helpful in building a sustainable system.

A note on perspective and finding joy in home cleaning

I understand physics.  Energy is in everything no matter how dormant the object.  Energy is what emotions are made up of as well.  Think about how many conversations, good days, bad days, arguments, laughter, grief and the like you have expressed within the walls of your home.  Now imagine those emotions sticking to your walls in the form of dust, dirt and dander.  I like to do this because it’s a great motivation to clean it up.

Dirt is cumulative in the same ways that emotions are when they are not evaluated and released.  Dirt will continue to pile upon dirt until an opposite force opposes it.  After a day of hard living, it is my pleasure to wash away the energetic byproducts of the day so that balance can be restored and a fresh slate prevails for the upcoming morning.  I’m not saying that every single day the house is spotless, I’m saying that I only allow 2 days tops of not doing anything before I go in and cleanse.  After a while you realize that it’s easier and less time consuming to wipe away one layer of dirt rather than 48 hours worth.

House work can be a pleasure if you let it be. For me it’s a time to reconnect with my surroundings and let inspiration hit me for things like design or maintenance.  Other times it can be used as a moving mediation where I practice staying mindful as I let the dirty water going down the drain represent anything feeling or belief that I no longer need.  Really good cleaning products that smell wonderful or that you lovingly make yourself can be yet another element that you add to bring in joy.  For me the sparkly space and some minor décor rearrangements help to remind me that a fresh new day/week is upon me.

In conclusion,

There will be times where you can’t get to the cleaning and tidying will have to be good enough.  This week in particular was a testament to this for me.  We lost someone close to us, and the last thing that any of us wanted to do was clean.  The good news is that since everything is done on a cycle, we had breathing room.  The laundry having been done means that we didn’t run out of necessities.  The floors being done meant that we only had to quickly sweep up…if we had wanted to.  In short, “keeping up”, means that even if you pause to rest for awhile, you still won’t fall behind.

 

In joyful service,

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Bonus: As you start to open up more free time for yourself and your family, take some inspiration from below and make good memories!

 

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