Navigating the Homefront

How I finally started to get my weekly chores done February 24, 2012

Filed under: Cleaning,Organization,Saving time — Christy @ 2:01 pm

New housekeeping routines are necessary with major changes like babies, moving, and new work schedules .  It usually takes a couple of weeks to get into the swing of things and begin accomplishing all the daily tasks consistently.  I’ve learned that it’s better for me to wait until I am comfortably completing all my daily tasks each day before I start adding weekly tasks to the new situation.  By weekly chores, I mean what most of us think of when we think of routine cleaning: scrub the bath tub, empty the leftovers from the fridge.  Anything you’d prefer to do more than monthly, but don’t really need to do every day.

Do all the chores on one day each week.

People who have strongly contrasting weeks and weekends often like this schedule.   When I was a public school teacher, I did all cleaning on Saturday.  This plan worked well and felt easy as long as I had the power to define my own schedule.

If I am cleaning the whole house at one time,  the most efficient method is to do each task for the entire house.  Start by decluttering the entire house, then work from the top down, and dry to wet  Dust the entire house, sweep the entire house, clean all the wet areas, then do the floors.   ( I learned this from Cheryl Mendelsson in her excellent book Home Comforts).

When a very hungry infant entered my life, I lost my ability to define my own schedule.  Whatever I had planned might be preempted by his needs.  I found that I made better progress by working a little bit each day.

“Around the Mulberry Bush”

I decided to try this classic homemaking method: assign each chore a specific day, and do it on that particular day.  I love this idea in theory.  It’s often recommended by more seasoned moms and homemakers.  My suspicion is that if you have children who are old enough to be scheduled and  help, it works well.  If you’d like to try it, check out Clean Mama.  She has a great starter schedule, and sends out some helpful “how to’s”

In my reality, I can’t necessarily get everything done on the day it was supposed to be done.  Worse, the same thing tends to get missed every week.   I end up with beautiful bathrooms and a filthy kitchen.

My Generalized Mulberry Bush

My current strategy looks like this: Day one, living room and play room; day two, bathrooms; day three, mopping; day four, kitchen; day five, bedrooms. Days six and seven, rest.

I have found that cleaning each room in its entirety before moving on the next is the most efficient method when cleaning with and around little people.  In dry rooms (bedrooms, play room)  I declutter, then clean the surfaces as quickly as possible.    In wet rooms, I may close the door while I quickly use all the chemicals then stow them out of reach.

Ideally the seven day cycle happens every week.  But, in reality, it works fine even if stretched over two or three weeks.    Sometimes I do day one cleaning on Monday, day two cleaning on Wednesday. When I had just given  birth to my second child in eighteen months, my weekly chores got done monthly.  It wasn’t ideal, but the situation was under control, unlike the year before when I couldn’t even figure out what to ask for when someone was available to help.  Believe me, knowing what you need to do and haven’t done is much less stressful than not even knowing what you haven’t done.

I have found that cleaning each room in its entirety before moving on the next is the most efficient method when cleaning with and around little people.  In dry rooms (bedrooms, play room)  I declutter, then clean the surfaces as quickly as possible.    In wet rooms, I may close the door while I quickly use all the chemicals then stow them out of reach.

Why did you choose your current scheduling strategy for weekly cleaning?


Getting things done when you have an infant January 15, 2012

Filed under: Laundry,Life with an infant,Organization,Saving time — Christy @ 3:21 am

1. When I was getting up multiple times in the night to nurse, I would change laundry loads after every feeding.  Then, in themorning, all the laundry was ready to put away, or at least my husband could dig through to get what he needed.  It was well worth the extra five minutes of lost sleep every three hours.

2. When my daughter was an infant, I learned that if I would feed the baby  thirty minutes before her natural time to get up in the morning, she would sleep about until when my toddler got up.  That gave me a couple of hours of no baby time to get things of all kinds done in the morning.

3.  Use my nursing time.  My son nursed twelve hours per day and longer at times.  I found that it was a great time to catch up on phone calls and planning.  It’s also when I could do  memory work or read a book.

Let’s help out some moms who are just getting started!  What other tricks  have you learned to get things done while you had an infant?


How to Keep a House Clean January 2, 2012

Filed under: Cleaning,Improving Quality of life,Organization,Saving time — Christy @ 3:00 am

There’s nothing worse than working hard all day and feeling that you have nothing to show for it at the end.  That’s how I felt when I looked around the house in the weeks after my son was born, and the problems only intensified as he grew and became mobile.  I received many assurances that someday he would be gone and then I’d miss the mess.   Ok, so maybe living in dirty home will sound attractive some day.    I still think I’ll feel guilty if that’s how my kids think it should be, and I know I felt guilty when their little hands got dirty from crawling across the floor I hadn’t cleaned for weeks.   One book I read stated that all mothers of new babies should have a maid.  It’s a lovely thought, isn’t it?  Thankfully, I had some friends who handed me books and URL’s and said, “You don’t have to do exactly what she says, but it might help some.”   Today, my son is still here, playing with his Duplos, and the floor is clean too.

The secret is developing and following a basic routine based on your living situation. Developing a routine is a task that has to be redone any time your life significantly changes. This is the method I used when we changed realities six months ago by moving from the rural US to the urban mide-East.  I think it’s a method that would work for any one.

Make a master plan.  Get comfortable daily routines.  Get comfortable with weekly routines.  Get comfortable with monthly routines.  Tweak as needed.

I’ve realized that, it’s more important that you work consistently than that you get the whole house looking good the first week. If you really are starting at the beginning, not just moving, or improving an already in place system, I would recommend that you start with the one room that bothers you most.  Add one room at time as you get the hang of maintaining the one.

What’s most important to make a routine workable for you?