A Workable Cleaning Schedule

Years ago when doing a day care business I needed to get the house cleaned but had very little time between children, my family, and a schedule that ran from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. This was also a period of time when we were heavily involved in our church on the weekends. This church really looked at how a person kept their home as part of how they evaluated what type of family you were. I chased my tail until I began to use the card method that I talk about in another blog post (Organizing: The S.H.E. Method). I did not use this method forever. I used it until I had a general good cleaning pattern down and then went on autopilot.

When I closed the day care, our life took a diametric turn. We ended up moving to the other side of the country and we started home schooling. This also involved me working with the family business. Most of our possessions went into storage. We lived in an apartment with rented furniture. Our only possessions not in storage were some books (we home schooled), a vacuum, linens, pots, pans, and dishes, and clothing. We were down to the basics. At this time I learned that we could get along with just the basics. We did miss things like the sewing machine, extra books, games, toys, beauty and cleaning supplies, piano, etc. The thing that I learned at that time was that we could be just as happy with the bare essentials. All of this brings me to the next step.

When we were able to once again have a full-blown home my philosophy had changed dramatically. In the living area I like to keep the bare essentials (clothing, linens, dishes, pots and pan, etc). We are a family that enjoys many interests and therefore we have many craft projects, books, toys, etc. How in the world do you keep all of this stuff under control. Every time you add another person to the family, you add two more arms to pull stuff out and not put it back. It usually comes down to the mother cleaning up what the rest of the family walks over.

Here is how I put my house together.
1. Essentials only in living areas like the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, living and family rooms, dining rooms. Give the kids a few toys (maybe a set of building blocks or a couple of dolls). Now there is less in these rooms to pick up and run after.

2. But what do you do with the extras in your house that you enjoy from time to time and yet do not want to keep picking up. You go looking for some cabinets that have doors on them. The cabinet doors must be able to be locked. If they do not come with locks, then you invest in a good drill and electric screw driver (mom's gift to herself) and buy some clamp locks from the local hardware. Do not buy open shelves or cabinets that cannot accommodate locks. These cabinets should fit well in the garage or the basement or a spare room. Measure before purchasing anything. Each cabinet can have items sorted into it. Here is an example of what might go into the cabinets.
A. Each kid can have extra items that they enjoy that are sorted into their cabinet.
B. Extra books.(In our house this means several cabinets.
C. Game cabinet.
D. Out of season clothing.
E. Whatever you have been picking up that you do not use all of the time.

3. Address the items that the family needs from time to time like light bulbs, batteries, cabling and electrical supplies, office supplies, etc. These items need to be accessed even when you are not in the home. Sort these things into stackable clear see-through boxes or drawer units and store them on the upper shelf in a hall closet or on an accessible shelf or two in the garage. Take into account changes in heat and cold if storing things in the garage. Sometimes paper items do not do so well in a moist damp garage or basement. Batteries may lose power with temperature changes. Christmas storage boxes and things like a canner (check seals before using) and canning supplies can be stored in the garage on a high shelf.

4. Finally, organize the kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, closets, and bedroom drawers, etc. so that you can easily see what you have or don't have when you look inside. This is not just so that someone will give you a metal for your pretty drawers, closets, and cabinets. This is so that you can open any one of these items and quickly see what is needed like spices and food, clothing, etc. You are cutting down on buying items you already have or running out of what you need. I like to have the refrigerator sorted about once a week just before shopping day. It gives me a good idea what to add to the shopping list.

All of this may seem overwhelming at first, but little by little the house will work for you instead of you working for the house. You will still have to maintain these areas from time to time but it is controlled maintenance. I am on autopilot from the card system that I used years ago and I clean according to what I learned from that. I also use this method for making a list of things that need to be done that the whole family can pitch in on for holiday preparation, spring cleaning, and getting ready for a new school year. A good list gives clear jobs and direction that only needs a few questions answered. You will find a family that doesn't have to be yelled at or manipulated to get things done. They will have to come to you instead of you going to them. When mama is happy the whole house is happy.

Now comes the fun part! I have a "butt" day once a week. It is Saturday. The family is informed that I am on vacation and that they need to work their schedule around me on that day. I do not cook, do dishes, wash clothes, vacuum, etc. except in extreme emergencies. Sometimes I make exceptions according to individual needs; but choose to give up your precious rest time very carefully, because a rested mom is a great mom not to mention a wonderful wife.

All of the above gives me more time to enjoy my family, my home, and have time for me. I hope this helps you to be more balanced and take away the urge to be a Staff Sergeant or a let's have a free-for-all attitude. Happy household management. It is never perfect. It is never predictable. Add your special touches, live happy, and enjoy the most important thing of all, yourself and your precious family.

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