I mopped the floors today. Try to contain your applause. You should be especially impressed because this included around the toilet. The one little boys use.
Cleaning is such a mundane and yet necessary part of our everyday lives. I think many of us find that a clean home is a peaceful one; it feels like a haven and a place of joy rather than a place of stress. So I figured this would be the perfect topic to provide inspiration for you today!
I see (and pin) a lot of cleaning ideas on Pinterest: natural cleaning, deep cleaning, routine cleaning, professional cleaning tips, cleaning hacks…and so on. It’s all fantastic advice. There’s just one problem.
Actually doing the cleaning.
In spite of all of the tips out there, even scheduling tips, I inevitably find that I fall behind. Life happens. The kids get sick, I get sick, busyness creeps in. I have days when I have the time but I don’t have the energy. Frankly, sometimes I don’t feel like doing it, just because. So I don’t.
I used to apologize a lot whenever someone came over because of the mess. I try not to do that as much anymore, but I’m finding it’s becoming less necessary. That’s because I finally found a system for our house that works!
The NO FAIL cleaning schedule.
One of the hardest battles I face as a homemaker is feeling like a failure whenever I’m not meeting my own expectations—which are usually completely arbitrary. So I say…no more failure!
Before I move on to the strategies, there are two principles that you should keep in mind when designing your own no fail cleaning schedule:
- Give yourself a lot of space for grace. Life happens and you inevitably are going to miss something on your checklist. But that doesn’t mean you’re a failure.
- Make more than adequate room in your schedule for cleaning. Daily. If you can’t fit it in, take a hard look at your lifestyle. Is the busyness worth it? If the state of your house stresses you out and you can’t fit a cleaning schedule into your life, you may need to reassess priorities (cut things out or get some more help). But please finish reading here before you do that, because it might not be as hard as you think.
Okay then, are you ready to set up your own system? Here’s what to do:
- Set a (realistic) standard.
Take a moment, grab some tea in a quiet corner, and envision your ideal home. I’m talking about the way you’d want it to look if you were trying to show it on the real estate market. What does it look like, feel like, smell like? On a scale of 1 to 10, rate that vision a perfect 10.
Now, give that vision a good hug. Then say goodbye.
A few weeks ago a friend with a young toddler asked me how on earth you’re supposed to keep your house completely in order when you have a little tornado on the move all the time. The answer: lower your standards. You can fight me on this one, but it’s just a fact of life for 99.9% of parents. That’s a scientific figure ;).
Now that you’ve let go of your vision, find a more realistic one. If the first vision was a 10, I’d say subtract at least a point or more for each child under the age of 5. I’d guess that for most people, a house cleanliness score of 7 or 8 is perfectly acceptable. Heck, some days I’ll be happy with a 4 or 5. No fail!
- Differentiate between clutter and dirt.
Clutter has to do with your stuff and dirt has to do with more natural substances. To clean up your clutter, you need to put it away where it belongs. To clean up dirt, you need to vacuum, sweep, mop and scrub. This post primarily addresses dirt, not clutter. Granted, the less clutter you have, the easier it is to keep your home free from the dirt that naturally accompanies said clutter. For more advice about dealing with clutter, I suggest you follow along as I declutter our house using the KonMari method.
In my opinion, dirt is a lot more manageable than clutter. Let’s say you completely fall off the wagon for a month and don’t clean at all. No worries, you can get back on track. No fail!
- Identify and prioritize high frequency needs.
There are some household tasks that you can’t put off for more than a day or two. You’re probably aware of them: in our home we can’t neglect the dishes or the laundry. Other tasks include wiping down tables and countertops and sweeping the kitchen floor.
I recommend getting everyone in the household on board completing these tasks. Make them a part of your daily routine. Chore time is a built-in part of our homeschool schedule. My boys, currently ages 5 and 6, take turns each day helping me put dishes away, putting their own folded laundry in their drawers and wiping down surfaces. By the way, I highly recommend making little kids clean bathroom surfaces every day! They don’t do the most thorough job, but if done daily, the bathroom sink and the toilet never get completely out of control.
We currently do two or three loads of laundry every other day (my mom helps, which is wonderful). I like this system because it gives us a catch-up day if we fall behind. Quite often I don’t make the full transfer from washer to dryer to folded to put away until it’s time to start washing all over again.
Other daily tasks can include making beds and picking up toys, but again that is dealing with clutter rather than dirt. So do what works for you.
All in all—even if all else fails—if I have even some control of these little things, I feel a lot better about the state of the whole house. And if we fall behind a day or two, no big deal…we just play a little bit of catch-up and get back on track. No fail!
- Identify and execute five weekly tasks.
This step has been the real game-changer for me. I have identified five cleaning tasks that I ideally want to complete once a week. I can tackle each of these tasks in half an hour or less. In our home, these are:
- Vacuum upstairs
- Dust whole house
- Vacuum downstairs
- Clean bathroom
- Mop floors
On a perfect week, I will complete one of these tasks each day, and then I can devote my weekend to either relaxing, working on other household projects or deep cleaning.
I think I have had a perfect week pretty much never.
But here’s what’s great: most weeks I will accomplish at least two or three of those tasks. When I miss one I can catch up on the weekend if I so choose (not likely to happen), or I can just know that I’ll hit the missed task the following week (or the week after!).
I’m always pretty aware about how frequently these tasks are being accomplished. And they never really pile up. Today I mopped the floors for the first time in about three weeks. And you know what? They weren’t horrible.
The beauty of this plan is that you are very unlikely to be in that awful place when everything is completely filthy—because if you’re at least trying, some portion of your house is going to be acceptably clean at any given time. No fail!
- Do the rest as needed.
Okay, I admit this is horribly vague, but this is the part when you have complete freedom to do what works for you. All of those extra tasks that need to be accomplished occasionally: deep cleaning, yard work, bigger household projects, even decluttering—you can figure it out. Currently I list most of my long-term household goals in my planner, and at the beginning of the month I pull out a couple of them and try to figure out when we can complete them. It is helpful to schedule them in advance so we can plan our weekends accordingly. Some months we have more extra time than others. As long as we’re making some progress, it’s all good. No fail!
I hope you find this tips useful so that you can decrease the amount of stress you feel in your home—and experience the victories more than failures.
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Do you have a cleaning schedule? What’s working for you? How would you adjust for your lifestyle (whether you work outside the home, you have different age kids, etc.)? Leave a comment here or on social media!