Home Management: A Cleaning Schedule
As your schedule fills up with meetings, work, kids' practices, travels it's easy to let cleaning your home fall to the back burner. When you have a few moments spare time, pulling out the vacuum cleaner may be at the bottom of your list of things you want to do right then. I have heard it said, though, that you can look at a person's home and know the state of their life. For example, if you look in a room and it feels chaotic and overwhelming, there's a good chance the person who lives there feels like their life is chaotic and overwhelming right then. Although it's not always the case and there are exceptions, I find that to be true for me most of the time. If I my home has shoes, bags, and mail unorganized, my life begins to feel unorganized too. Since my husband and I have made one of our family goals for our home to be a welcoming, refreshing place, I have realized that cleaning needs to be a priority. That doesn't mean that I obsess over it, but it does mean that I am consciously planning and taking time to make sure my home is neat and clean. For me, this doesn't happen unless I have a clear plan made to see it accomplished. Unfortunately, that's true for most people. If we don't have some kind of goal or plan then our great idea will never actually happen.
Besides making a home refreshing, cleanliness and organization are also beneficial for your health. If you are consistently dusting and vacuuming, ridding your home of unnecessary dust, you may find your allergies clear up. Organization also helps to make sure other household management happens, such as paying bills, budgeting, and keeping records. On top of all this, it can make life less stressful when last minute guests come over or a planned visit happens. There's no more rushing at the last minute to clean the house when your house is consistently clean.
So how to make this happen? Let's get down to it!
Customize Your Schedule
I want to start off by saying that there is no one perfect way to create a cleaning schedules. Because lifestyles, sizes of homes, and capacities all greatly vary, it is impossible to have a "one size fits all" cleaning schedule. What I want to do in this article is provide you with some elements of an effective cleaning schedule and help you shape it into the details that maximize your time - all based on your available time and home.
Break Down Your To-Do Lists to a Few Achievable Tasks
Even though I only work part-time and live in a small apartment, the thought of doing all the cleaning tasks in one morning or afternoon seems daunting to me. Things always come up or I have other more pressing things that need to get done. It's easier for me to procrastinate a long list of things when I think it's going to take a large chunk of time. For many women, taking several hours to clean their house may be absolutely impossible. Either your work schedule or presence of kids may not allow it. Therefore, one of the best ideas I have ever heard is to break down your cleaning into a few different tasks. It may look something like this:
- Organize (Get ride of clutter!)
If you have a large home or have a lot of members of your family, it could look something like this:
- Dust Upstairs
- Dust Downstairs
- Laundry - sheets and towels
Notice that with these I didn't mention kitchen in either list. Since food is kept and prepared in the kitchen, I find it best to keep it clean daily. Although I do a more thorough cleaning of the sink and floors on specific days, my husband and I make a conscious effort to do dishes immediately and keep the kitchen clean. There are also a few tasks that I try to do daily:
- Wipe Counters (especially kitchen counters)
- Organize (put shoes, purse, mail, etc. in their specific places and sort mail)
- Sweep Floors
Although breaking down tasks never gives you the "everything is clean at once" feeling, doing these basic tasks each day helps things continually feel clean.
In case you still need convincing that cleaning is helpful, here are some health facts from the American Cleaning Institute:
- Germs are most often spread by hands through person-to-person contact.
- Poor personal hygiene by foodhandlers is the second leading cause of foodborne illness.
- Americans spend about $5 billion each year on their colds - about $3 billion on doctors' visits and $2 billion on treatments.
- An estimated 60 million days of school and 50 million days of work are lost annually because of the common cold.
- Some germs can live on dry surfaces (such as toys) for several hours and moist surfaces (like bathroom sinks) for up to three days.
- Salmonella can survive freezing and can survive on dry surfaces for at least 24 hours.
- The average kitchen dishcloth can contain 4 billion living germs.
Assign Your Tasks to Specific Days
Once you have broken down your tasks to achievable chunks, begin to assign them to specific days. Think through your schedule before you do this. If you work all day on Tuesdays and have a meeting that night, schedule the shortest/easiest task for that day (or if you can leave it empty). If you have several days that are extremely busy but have one or two days with an open afternoon, schedule more for that day. If you tend to travel often on the weekends, don't schedule things for Fridays unless you know you can consistently do it. A key to making goals is to make them achievable. If you can't achieve them then there's no use in making them at all. If you have a small home or family, you may not have tasks for everyday. On the other hand, if you have a large home or family, you may need to spread out your tasks more. However, I would leave one day empty to give yourself a chance to catch up if needed and one day always off to be able to rest. Mine looks something like this:
- Monday: bathroom
- Every other Monday: dust
- Tuesday: vacuum/mop
- Thursdays: laundry
For Less Frequent Tasks
Some tasks don't need to be done every week. Notice in the list above I only dust every other week. If your home collects a lot of dust - let's say you live in the middle of a farm or in a more dessert area - you may want to do that every week. Again, you have to create the schedule based on what your needs are. Other tasks can be done one a month, one a quarter, or even once a year. I have also made Thursdays a chore day, assigning monthly tasks to be done on Thursdays. For example, I vacuum furniture on the second Thursday of each month and clean out the refrigerator/wipe shelves the last Thursday of the month.
Display your Schedule for Accountability
You don't have to decorate with it, but you can creatively place it somewhere where you will be reminded of it and be accountable to it. I have mine on a calendar in the hallway right by my kitchen. Since my calendar is a large window frame with the calendar written on the glass with a dry erase marker, I wrote out my schedule on a colored notecard and placed it behind the glass. Now, I can check off my tasks with the dry erase marker and erase all the markings at the beginning of the week without having to rewrite my list.
Besides accountability, displaying your list makes helping you easier for other members of your family. If your husband wants to surprise you one day by doing one of your chores, he can easily look on your schedule to know what to do. If you have kids and have them help with chores, you can also easily assign different tasks each week for them. It holds everyone accountable but also creates a way for people to bless someone else.
To Sum it Up
- Break down cleaning into a few specific tasks
- Assign your tasks to different days based on your schedule
- Make lists for non-weekly tasks (daily, every other week, monthly, quarterly)
- Display your schedule for accountability
- Get creative and find ways to help you enjoy cleaning
For You Who Don't Like Cleaning
You are not alone if you don't enjoy cleaning, and you're not a bad homemaker either! Although I would say a few months ago that I didn't enjoy cleaning at all, it's starting to grow on me. I'm not quite to being able to say I really enjoy it, but I want to!
For me, I need purpose attached to what I'm doing to really be able to enjoy something. If it seems meaningless or mundane, I have to search for the purpose. With cleaning, I have found several purposes:
- Healthy home: fewer allergies and just basic cleanliness is welcoming and desirable. Who really enjoys spending time in a dirty home or eating from a dirty kitchen? Gross!
- Refreshing atmosphere: like I mentioned in the first paragraph, the state of your home often reflects the state of your life. An organized, peaceful home can help life feel peaceful instead of chaotic and overwhelming
Getting Creative while Cleaning
As I spend time cleaning, I have found there are a few things that I can do that help me enjoy it more. Here are a few things:
- Listen to a podcast: I have been listening to a series on Freedom in Christ by Jamie Lash. While it's difficult for me to listen to a podcast while doing many things, I find that cleaning is a perfect time to listen to a teaching or podcast.
- Pray or Meditate on Scripture: Cleaning is a great time to connect with God and pray. Sometimes it's hard for me to really pray if I'm just sitting down. If I'm moving around and even pray out loud I find it's much easier for me to engage in prayer. It's also a great time to let me mind wonder through the meaning of a verse.
- Call a friend: It's a great time to catch up with that friend that you haven't found time to call yet (unless you're vacuuming!)
- Let your mind rest: if you have an intensive job or kids (or both!) you may just want time to not have to think about much. Put thoughts aside and let your mind rest while you clean. Focus on enjoying your home instead of dreading another to-list or meeting.