Anyone gone from bad housekeeper to a good one? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 35 Old 08-16-2011, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have absolutely no idea how to keep house.  I'm a SAHM, so I guess it's my job to do this.  Has anyone been totally clueless like me, and then figured it out?

 

I am starting to think that it is just not a part of my personality- like I'm deficient somehow.  I would love to have my house in a state where it is not mortifying to have someone stop by, but it's as if I don't see the mess until someone does, or until it's so disgusting that I don't even know where to begin.

 

I really only clean when something is gross, and then I'm amazed at the thing I'm cleaning- as in, "Who knew you had to clean this?"  Like my laundry baskets, the doors, cabinets, door jams, anything near the garbage can, the exteriors of appliances.  All completely crusty, and out of my realm of perception until they are coated in pb&j + dirt.  So I scrub the heck out of the object of my focus, and my husband stares in amazement with a look that says, "Why are you washing the laundry baskets when the entire house is swimming in dirty laundry?"

 

Obviously, I have a priority problem.  The bigger problem is that I just don't see myself getting over it.  I think I'm OCD without the commitment.  And that was slight sarcasm.  But seriously, now that I know the laundry baskets are totally crusty, how can I possibly empty the dryer out into one of them?

 

And the biggest question of all:  What do you do with the kids while you're cleaning?  I have sons who are 2.5 and 4.5.  Left alone, they will fight or watch a movie.  I hate both.  It's a big problem because my cleaning style so far is to dedicate a day every so often to tackling the house and then they get to either fight or watch movies.

 

So I'd like to hear from a mom who figured out how to come to the other side of this mess with grace.

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#2 of 35 Old 08-16-2011, 10:26 PM
 
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From my experience, I'd say: Sometimes good enough IS enough! Perfectionism does not help...and RARELY is everything all done at one time.

 

What has helped me:

Make a list of your priorities that matter every day - dishes done/kitchen straight after dinner, keep laundry moving through, sweep the floor/vacuum, swipe the bathroom in the morning, trash cans emptied, quick pick up before bed, etc.

Have a weekly list too - fridge cleaned out on tuesday, trash to curb on thurs pm, bathroom scrubbed monday, whatever is important to you.

Then have one day open where you know you have time to do "extra" stuff you notice - door jams, ceiling fans, closets, that kind of stuff.

 

That's about what I do, its pretty minimal...but it holds me over til I go on one of my crazy cleaning sprees!

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#3 of 35 Old 08-16-2011, 10:34 PM
 
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I agree. The daily "clean as you go stuff" is what I get backed up on, and then there is never time for cleaning the laundry baskets.

 

My friend has a system where she does the dailies, and focuses on one room / day (kitchen, bathroom, kids' rooms, lr, master br). So every day she does laundry, dishes, etc, but on Monday she spends extra time in the kitchen wiping down the outside of the fridge, cleaning it out, etc. Similar to flylady, but on a daily rotation instead of a weekly one.


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#4 of 35 Old 08-17-2011, 07:01 AM
 
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From my experience, I'd say: Sometimes good enough IS enough! Perfectionism does not help...and RARELY is everything all done at one time.

 

What has helped me:

Make a list of your priorities that matter every day - dishes done/kitchen straight after dinner, keep laundry moving through, sweep the floor/vacuum, swipe the bathroom in the morning, trash cans emptied, quick pick up before bed, etc.

Have a weekly list too - fridge cleaned out on tuesday, trash to curb on thurs pm, bathroom scrubbed monday, whatever is important to you.

Then have one day open where you know you have time to do "extra" stuff you notice - door jams, ceiling fans, closets, that kind of stuff.

 

That's about what I do, its pretty minimal...but it holds me over til I go on one of my crazy cleaning sprees!


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#5 of 35 Old 08-17-2011, 07:51 AM
 
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I don't like to start until I can "do it right" so a lot of things never get done. I've had to let go of that and do partial clean-ups. Also, my DH *sees* a lot more untidiness than I do. I just don't *see* it. A few books and stuff laying around doesn't bother me, but it does bother him. I have to consciously tell myself that the living room isn't clean until there is no stuff sitting out or explicitly tell the kids that their room isn't clean if there is still stuff on the floor, etc. I guess I have raised my standards somewhat and DH has lowered his a bit - it works.

 

I agree about priorities: our basics are food and dishes put away after meals, kitchen counter and table wiped, basic straightening, no too-big piles accumulating anywhere, bathrooms not too gross, garbage taken out when it's full, kids put away their clothes weekly & DH vacuums almost every day due to allergies. Everything else is pretty much done when we can get to it.

 

Oh, and the kids - get them in on the act. The younger the better! Mine love spraying cleaner and wiping mirrors and doorknobs, folding towels, etc. They don't love putting away toys, washing up dishes, etc. but that's the breaks! It really pays off later. Good luck!

 

PS Decluttering helps because then there is less to clean, but we're still working on that.

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#6 of 35 Old 08-17-2011, 09:26 AM
 
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Well...now that you know you have a problem, fix it.

 

It takes a long time to make something a habit and you're in the habit of not picking up/cleaning. It is a very hard one to break.

 

Start with the habit of ONE thing. Me? The kitchen/sink was the habit I started with. If the dishwasher is full, unload it. Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter.

 

Give your kids something to do when you're going to clean. In my house, they play. TV is not on constantly, and mine are homeschooled (5 and 7-- 18 months apart). If you are going to fight while I clean, and you can't listen, then your little bottom is going to sit in your bedroom for "quiet" time (to calm down, as I tell them) while I work. As they really dislike being apart...well...they don't like having to do that.

 

You can make the change. It is hard, I know. But....don't have such a micro focus. Who cares if the outside of the fridge is nasty if your entire living room looks like a bomb went off? Aim for just good enough.


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#7 of 35 Old 08-17-2011, 09:44 AM
 
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A kitchen timer is great for me.  I get totally overwhelmed and don't know where to start.  By setting a timer for 15 minutes, I have to be DOING something for that time.   If you do that several times a day, you'll make a good dent on it all. 

 

For me, laundry is my nemesis.  So I try to make myself do some every day. 

 

Beyond that, bathrooms need to be clean every day, and the kitchen after every meal. 

 

A general wander through the living areas of the house so everything is off the floor and surfaces are clear at least once a day- and in busy areas about 3x a day works wonders for us. 

 

The bedrooms are NOT in great condition- I need to work on that.  They are, however, out of sight when someone drops in and they aren't health hazards.  We'll get there. 

 

Since your husband is so good at noticing what isn't done- I'm sure he can pitch in when he's home.  :D  Next time he comments about something like the laundry- tell him "Thanks hon, I really appreciate it when you offer to do that so we can get caught up around here!"  In other words, yep, he needs to pitch in as well. 

 

If the house is currently overwhelming you, hire someone to help get it done, then start from a good 'under control'  place to learn new habits. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#8 of 35 Old 08-17-2011, 09:52 AM
 
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Motivated Moms (http://motivatedmoms.com/) changed my life. It's a daily planner that you print out with a list of chores to do each day. There are things on there that I would never even think to do... wipe off doorknobs? Clean light switch covers? I have never done those things in my life. But it really helps to maintain a clean house because you are not doing very much at one time. I had tried to make my own lists, or assign different rooms to different days, but it never worked for me. 


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#9 of 35 Old 08-17-2011, 10:15 AM
 
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If wait till things are gross, little chores seem much bigger. Make a daily habit of picking up and wiping up as you go about your day. I have my family members pick up loose belonging ten minutes before bedtime and I do a little cleaning before I turn in each night so I don't have to deal with messy, unorganized mornings. There are some great books at my library about housekeeping.. I'm sure you could find a few to borrow.
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#10 of 35 Old 08-17-2011, 11:37 AM
 
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Sounds like ADD more than OCD.  I see it in my DH, it's either zero focus on cleaning, or an all-day hyperfocus on some little thing, while leaving all the big messes untouched.  I don't know what the answer is for that. 

 

Some people find that they can see clutter and mess more easily if they take a picture of the room.

 

What I do is have a weekly routine of tasks that need to be done for me to feel like the house is basically under control.  Dishes, laundry, floors, bathrooms, trash.  I take Sundays off from housework, and leave Wednesdays free for projects.  

 

I do nearly all of the cleaning in short five or ten minute bursts.  Children are expected to play, or maybe even help.  Children who try for negative attention while I'm in the middle of a cleaning task are confined or banished until I finish.

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#11 of 35 Old 08-17-2011, 02:29 PM
 
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I think I qualify inasmuch as I have gone from absolutely slovenly to able to contemplate company dropping by unexpectedly without having a panic attack.

 

The bad news is, it's taken me forever to get to this point. The good news is that much of the progress has been made in the last two years.

 

By far, the biggest influence for me has been this blog. She's brilliant at getting to the heart of what makes us resist certain kinds of work, of why we should be doing it, and of how we should be doing it. She's coming from an explicitly Catholic viewpoint, which may not speak to you, but if you're interested, scroll down and look for the section headed "Happy Home: The Reasonably Clean House." She is assuming that you're trying to do all this with a minimum of experience and at least a handful of little, little kids around, so her advice is both practical and holistic (meaning she takes the entire family, the entire rhythm of the day) into account.

 

Aside from that, here are some of the other steps I've taken:

 

1) Simplify, simplify, simplify. I speak here not just of decluttering stuff, though that is enormously helpful, but of streamlining routines and eliminating needless work. So, for instance, I hardly fold or even sort laundry--each of the kids has a large bin right by the dryer and everything goes in there. For adults, I hang what needs to be hung and put the rest in bins, unfolded. All the silverware goes in a single basket, unsorted, that a kid can lug to the table. That kind of thing.

 

2) For the kids, you might look into some Waldorf preschool advice. There's a lot of stuff there about letting kids follow along and share the chores. Yes, it makes it take longer and it doesn't always get done well. But my thinking is that without them occupied, it wouldn't be getting done at all, so there's a net gain, right? So, for example, you could fill a bin with soapy water, put it on a towel, and let them wash some of the dishes. Or they can sort laundry, or wander around with a spray bottle full of water and a cloth for wiping water up. Good sensory play, although especially in the case of my oldest, I had to spend a lot of time doing damage control.  Beyond the actual tasks, though, if your kids are not in a fairly well-established rhythm, it might be worth setting that up before you get your own routine set up. Again, Waldorf thinking can be helpful, as is the aforementioned blog.

 

3) This may not be you at all, but in the end, I really just had to grow up. I amused myself endlessly by designing systems and diagnosing my psychological blocks to housekeeping, but finally I just had to accept that this was my job and I needed to do the darn work. That sounds easier than it was, and for that matter, it's still an ongoing process. In my case, the process was ultimately more spiritual than psychological.

 

 

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#12 of 35 Old 08-17-2011, 05:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by bignerpie View Post

Motivated Moms (http://motivatedmoms.com/) changed my life. It's a daily planner that you print out with a list of chores to do each day. There are things on there that I would never even think to do... wipe off doorknobs? Clean light switch covers? I have never done those things in my life. But it really helps to maintain a clean house because you are not doing very much at one time. I had tried to make my own lists, or assign different rooms to different days, but it never worked for me. 



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#13 of 35 Old 08-17-2011, 10:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to all who chimed in.

 

Phroggies, I think you nailed it.  I love the idea of having the kids help, but thought the reality was that it's going to be a huge headache for everyone.  So I'm just going to go playful with their part of it and not demand an outcome.  I like that.  Your third point hit all the way home with me.  So I shouldn't be analyzing my childhood and making elaborate charts mapping out each minute of my existence every time I realize that this is a major issue for me?  What a novel concept.  I have growing up to do?  Sheesh.

 

I checked out the links above and they all have great stuff.  In the interest of starting small,  I made the smallest ever chore list ever which includes: 

 

Load of laundry first thing in the morning.

Kitchen, after every meal.  Swept once.

Bathroom check once a day.

Living room tidied before husband comes home.

 

One more thing I'm adding to the to-do list:  buy a dish washer.  I don't know how I made it without one, and this era will end.  I also figured out that I can wipe the cabinets when I wipe the counters instead of waiting a couple of months and then being floored when I notice how gross they are.  That may not sound big, but I think I will save myself an average of 6 freak outs a year, so that's good.

 

So it's a short list, but since I just realized that I'm a four year old when it comes to housekeeping maturity level, it's a start.  Keep 'em coming.

 

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#14 of 35 Old 08-18-2011, 05:40 AM
 
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One more thing I'm adding to the to-do list:  buy a dish washer.  I don't know how I made it without one, and this era will end. 



I heartily endorse this suggestion. Some people love washing dishes - not me.


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#15 of 35 Old 08-24-2011, 08:09 AM
 
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I go by a few rules.  No dishes in the sink and bathroom is clean.  Once that's accomplished I can add other things.  I get into a  funk now and then about cleaning and keeping things up.  However if I stick by the sink and bathroom rule if feels like it just got easier.  I also cart around grocery bags in my back pocket.  If I'm in a room then I quickly pick up anything that needs to be tossed. 

 

All dusting has to happen with the music blaring.  And I don't want help.  When they get older I'll assign the girls a room they can keep clean together.  But for now, I just need to keep myself in the cleaning spirit. 

 

Also there is a cheap vacuum in the each side of the house.  I walk in there for something I go at real quick with the vacuum.  Toys can be shoved in the girls closet.  I don't care about that kind of stuff it's not mine and they see how I keep my things.  I used to organize all their stuff until it got to be a real time waster.  Now if they want it that way they need to do it. 

 

 

Good luck it can be done and it's just not easy. 

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#16 of 35 Old 08-24-2011, 11:25 AM
 
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I have a really short list:

*dishes rinsed always
*toilets cleaned always
*trash out daily (we use small bags) and windows open daily


If these things are done, I feel confident about the state of my home. Then I add to this list as the day goes on in 10-15 minute increments. Good Luck. Baby steps daily.

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#17 of 35 Old 08-25-2011, 03:02 PM
 
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I have absolutely no idea how to keep house.  I'm a SAHM, so I guess it's my job to do this.


One question hits me instantly when I read yo: Do you really want to be a SAHM and have a job you feel clueless about?

I was a SAHM for several years, and I felt I couldn't meet my duties. Like you, I seemed to have a priority issue, and was often caught spending time on some side thing, while the more urgent ones lay there undone. I felt very bad and depressed.

No I'm working outside, and find that it's much more satisfying for me. (I'm not saying this as a general truth, of course, just what it was personnally for me.) And I'm actually pretty happy with the way I keep my house, now thatI feel entitled to organize things the way I want.

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#18 of 35 Old 09-07-2011, 06:26 PM
 
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I'm a horrible housekeeper. If I had money, I would totally hire someone! I love flylady's idea of doing laundry every day. (I don't actually do this, since there are only 2 of us, but I appreciate the idea if there were more of us.) If you put a load of laundry in every morning, then the laundry is always done. There are never piles of clothes sitting around getting moldy. The towels don't pile up. It's just lovely. 

 

To answer your question, I have not gone from bad to good, but I'm trying! I'll let you know how it goes. :P


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#19 of 35 Old 09-07-2011, 11:27 PM
 
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I am a horrid housekeeper and I clean houses for a living... I just can't seem to get my house in control. You are not alone. I do now know how to clean it's more managing my stuff and keeping up with daily chores I just can't seem to master. I am having a friend come in and do a clean sweep for me to get us back to a fresh start. That may be an idea for you to hire help temporarily as you learn if you are able to afford it or can trade for it. ( childcare for cleaning>?)


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#20 of 35 Old 09-09-2011, 09:03 PM
 
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I wouldn't say bad to good, but rather sub-par to decent. Used to be that things piled up and caught me unawares, like moldy food in the fridge, a layer of slimy gunk in the toilet, and nasty rotting surprises in zippy cups around the house. And one morning I would go to get dressed only to discover I had no clean underwear. eyesroll.gif

What has helped me was decluttering so those sippys have less places to hide and a chore checklist that helps me track what needs doing. Although my house still isn't great, at least it is not an embarrassment or a health hazard.

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#21 of 35 Old 09-10-2011, 04:04 PM
 
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Thanks to those who mentioned Motivated Moms. I got the 2011 calendar for $4 to see what it's like, and so far I love it. I don't even do all of the chores every day (and some aren't applicable to our living arrangement), but it's already resulted in a cleaner house. Amazing.


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#22 of 35 Old 09-11-2011, 07:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Veslemor View Post
I think I'm OCD without the commitment. 


ok i want a bumper sticker that says that! that was soo funny and so fitting for me sometimes!


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#23 of 35 Old 09-11-2011, 08:51 PM
 
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Lost my post but my best tip is:

 

Only look at something disgusting once.  Be it jelly on the counter, food in the sink or a toilet bowl that needs a swish.  If I walk by it once, I will walk by it a thousand times.  Just do it because otherwise everything starts to feel gross and then if you are like, you just get overwhelmed and do nothing.


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#24 of 35 Old 09-12-2011, 06:21 AM
 
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Thanks to those who mentioned Motivated Moms. I got the 2011 calendar for $4 to see what it's like, and so far I love it. I don't even do all of the chores every day (and some aren't applicable to our living arrangement), but it's already resulted in a cleaner house. Amazing.


I picked this up as well. I am a routine person, but not a do this on this day kind of person, so it has been a bit of a struggle to get going with my list. This is my first full week using it, so I will see how it goes. I am feeling more organized in my head, which helps me feel confident in getting the list accomplished.

 


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#25 of 35 Old 09-15-2011, 10:22 AM
 
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My kids were fighting a lot at that age too, so my suggestion is to cut yourself some slack until your kids are a little older.  Things will get a lot easier.  I have always been a terrible housekeeper but my house looks better and better as the kids get older and older.  I was a SAHM up until 2 1/2 years ago.  I had to go back to work (dh lost his job), but once I was working I realized I loved it (I hate, hate, hate to cook).  Dds are 5 and 6 1/2 now.  They know exactly where their dirty clothes go (I wish I could say that about my dh) and they can put away their own laundry.  They like to clean their bathroom sink and tub too.

 

A lot of people like to do a little laundry everyday - I hate having it hanging over my head, so I try to do all of the laundry (5-6 loads) Sunday morning into early afternoon.  I make sure my family owns a weeks worth of underwear and socks so nobody ever runs out.

 

I think, as some others have said, that decluttering goes a long way in keeping a clean house.  I have recently joined the 2011 in 2011 thread and I am very excited about it.

 

Good luck to you!  Things will get easier.

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#26 of 35 Old 10-12-2011, 10:54 AM
 
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OH, I"m with  you momma!!!

My dh told me if housewife was my job, I'd be fired.  I don't  want to be a house wife.  I want to be a mom, all day, but alas these things need to get done.   I want a clean house, but I don't want to be the one doing it.   I get distracted easily and start reading a magazine from 3 years ago and forget about the laundry.

 

I do make sure the toilet is clean every day and the kids room looks very decent.  There is always stuff out in our living room. 

I'm here to learn!

 

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#27 of 35 Old 10-13-2011, 08:32 PM
 
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Well, I wouldn't say I am "bad" at house keeping and I am embarrassed to admit this for some reason, but I definitely gleaned a lot from a huge housekeeping book by Martha Stewart. She has a daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and yearly chore checklist, and although I don't follow them all, I like the daily one a lot:

 

-make the beds

-manage clutter

-sort the mail

-clean as you cook

-wipe up spills while they are fresh

-sweep the kitchen floor in the evening

 

It's amazing how quick I have become at completing this list, and I have to add that I usually collect soiled laundry from everyone's hamper and throw on a load, which I hang to dry later on.

 

You can get all her checklists here http://www.marthastewart.com/photogallery/cleaning-checklists#slide_1

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#28 of 35 Old 10-15-2011, 11:56 AM
 
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1. Don't beat yourself up and don't compare.

2. It took me years to understand where my clutter and dirt came from and I came to peace that it's going to happen sometimes, in huge ways, and I have to just roll with it.

 

Having said that,

Minimalism/decluttering/simplifying have helped me a lot. Having said that, I do follow the idea of just doing something for 20 minutes a day to keep it maintainable. Here is an example:

 

1. Monday- 1 load of laundry, wipe down bathrooms

2. Tuesday- 1 load of laundry, sweep/vaccuum

3. Wednesday- do a clean sweep of all trash (for Thursday trash day), wipe down kitchen counters, throw out old leftovers

 

Etc.etc. etc...do what works for you. Once a month, I take a weekend morning to really DEEP clean those areas that are looking shabby but more importantly, I take the other 3 weekend mornings to enjoy my life. Keep it simple!!!!

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#29 of 35 Old 10-16-2011, 12:07 AM
 
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I would say we have gone from bad to less bad, but here are a few specific things that were helpful for me:

 

Claiming ONE calm surface (not the kitchen sink for me; a kitchen counter, a table, a dresser top), and training us to keep it routinely beautiful. And then gradually increasing the number of calm surfaces. Home Comforts talks about a broken window theory of housekeeping--once a chair has a sock on it, it signals that clutter and disrepair are welcome, and it becomes much more difficult to climb out of a hole. This immediately resonated with me; the pleasant thing has been that once order is established, it is easier to keep--physically easier and faster, but also just plain more rewarding emotionally; but it is a steep climb to get there. 

 

Making beds. See above for order.

 

Decluttering generally. 

 

Having people over often enough to force a regular sense of order. Gradually, I am getting better at letting myself cherish us enough to give us this gift of a pleasant space, but there was a while when my son was small that our home got better simply when the winter weather kept us inside with friends over. 

 

Baby steps. 

 

Heather

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#30 of 35 Old 10-19-2011, 04:04 AM
 
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I sooo relate to this thread, especially the original post!

What I do is go for sanitation first, then clutter. If something is neither, ie: making the bed daily, it is ultra low priority. I am kind of a slobby germaphobe, so at worst, things will get messy/cluttered to the point where it goes from an organizational issue to one of actual cleanliness and then it will get dealt with. I try to be more on top of things than that, but that is my bottom line.

 

 

Jess

SSAHM to four boys, ages 5,11,13 and almost 18, and a baby on the way smile.gif


rainbow1284.gifJess, mama to five boys joy.gif

 

 

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