02 Oct Housecleaning
Housecleaning – can be a daunting task — whether you live in a one bedroom apartment or in a large home. Few people enjoy the task; however if it is left undone for too long, living becomes insufferable with dirt, clutter and chaos. One flourishes much better when there is order, harmony and a sense of cleanliness. You feel a greater sense of dignity and desire to be your best self in these circumstances. Housecleaning skills vary from family to family. Some people are very particular about cleanliness, down to the minutest details. Others are happy with a general cleaning. Still others are fine with just the basics. It’s quite a challenge to clean a home and raise a family. You feel like you have to be an octopus with eight hands to tend to the needs of the people and the place. With the huge learning curve involved with a first baby, mom must be patient in developing the skills, techniques and schedules to take care of the home as well. Be realistic about your time, energy, stage of life and capabilities. Housecleaning is a work in progress. You will develop the skills over time. Be patient.
It is important that a mom have the right tools to do the job, a schedule to guide the process and a method of attack that gets the job done. You do want your house to be home that is welcoming and inviting. Whether you carry out this role on your own, or in conjunction with your spouse and children, housecleaning merits consideration. It is the first place where your children see and do work in action. It is the training ground for work habits, self-discipline and skills training for all concerned. Although some families may hire cleaning services for various reasons, it can be an avenue of character building, time management and group effort from which your whole family can grow. Admit that the state of your home has repercussions on all the people who come into your home. A well kept home reduces tension, and irritability. Too sterile of a home retards creativity and spontaneity. Aim rather for a cheerful background for living. Desire to educate yourself in the “art of housecleaning” so that you can be more effective, efficient and happy in your approach.
Personally I have gained a lot of information from Don Aslett, who wrote “Is There Life After Housework?” Here are some quotes from this great book:
- Try delegating 60% of the daily chores to your family (you’ll be amazed how much the need for picking up the house will decrease.)
- Establish an acceptable cleanliness level and maintain it daily.
- Fit the task to your mood and personality (When you’re rolling, tackle the most active and demanding work. When you’re dragging, file, sort or do something that requires no creativity or mental energy.)
- Free yourself from the junk in your house and you will automatically free yourself from much of the housework. Eliminate or remove anything that bugs you – that’s inconvenient, no longer functional or that you just don’t like. Eliminate excess playthings (adult or child).
- Refuse to pick up the slack for nonperformers. “Anything you mess up, you clean up” is a fair and simple rule in a family. Yes you could probably do a better job in half the time, but what you teach them outweighs the little extra effort you have to put into it.
- Use praise lavishly when it’s deserved. You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
- Some of the most efficient cleaning is done in short bursts, ie. 15 minute time fragments.
- Do it right. Skillful cleaning cuts 75% or more of the time you spend cleaning and that means three-quarters too of all the lights, heat, water, gas, and other energy consumed cleaning.
- Use no more than you need. And use the gentlest cleaner that will do the job.
- Clean top to bottom.
- When cleaning a room work back to front (toward the door) in a clock-wise direction to save steps and time.Another great read is “Confessions of an Organized Homemaker” by Deniece Schofield. Although it’s out of print, it’s worth getting an inexpensive copy from amazon.com because it’s full of helpful insights on planning, menus, decluttering, toys, paper, etc. This book was my saving grace when I was overwhelmed by my third child. Her other books are also gems. Here are some thoughts from her book:
- Stop comparing yourself with other people. We tend to see ourselves at our worst, while we see others at their best. What matters is that we have a happy, comfortable home.
- Jobs can be broken down into smaller units that enable you to advance a job in small snatches of time rather than one extended work session.
- Fifteen minutes of planning can save hours. Plan tonight what you will do tomorrow. Have a schedule. It will give you a sense of completion. Plan the things you can control. Have reachable goals. Keep from overprogramming or from scheduling nonessentials. Get the most important jobs done first. Think before you act.
- Be determined to accomplish your most important goals, but be flexible. You can put unfinished job’s on tomorrow’s list. When faced with choices, try to decide which will accomplish the greater good.
- Give everything in your home a well-defined place. When you do not have a specific place, you become a slave. You are never in control of your house; instead your house is in control of you.
- Store things at or near the point of first use. In other words, store things where you use them.
- Store equipment and supplies in a way that will allow you to work without having to take a lot of steps. Be motion-minded. Use both hands effectively. Strive for one-motion storage. For example take the lids off laundry hampers. The more motions something takes, the harder the process is to execute and enforce.
- Get into the habit of putting things away immediately and teach your family this great habit. Maintaining order will give you a lot of free time. It’s much easier to stay on top than it is to catch up. Try to straighten common areas at the end of every day, with family members helping. This will save you lots of cleaning.
- Watch professionals for ideas. Notice their work simplification methods. Pay attention not only to how they use their equipment, but see how it is stored.As moms we are constantly learning how to juggle life, love and work. Here are some ideas from a variety of moms to help us tackle housecleaning. I hope it inspires, uplifts and puts a smile on your face.