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How to keep a house clean
When I was a younger mom, I was forever making up lists and methods to keep track of everything from organization to daily routines. I had notebooks and files and all sorts of systems involving complicated color coding and chore tracking devices. The problem was, once I would get the systems all set up, I would fail miserably at using them. I had made housekeeping more complicated than it needed to be. I felt like I was always behind and my house seemed on the verge of chaos.
In my endeavor to live life more fully, I’m always evaluating things I want to incorporate into my life and what things I DON’T want. I want to have a beautifully decorated, clean and organized home, but there are other things in life that are important to me too. I want my home to be in order so I am free to nurture relationships and enjoy living, but I don’t want to be a slave to my housekeeping routines.
So, how do I balance it all? I keep it simple.
Over the years I’ve found I can focus on four basic housekeeping routines that work for me, and I’m sticking to them. I can add other things, of course, but these are the tried and true basics. Some I learned from Flylady, some were ideas from other books I read as a young bride and many are just my own ways of doing things. By breaking it down and doing what works for me, I feel I can manage my life, instead of my house taking over my life.
Here is what I focus on every day:
1. Morning routines. I have found that having a regular morning routine works best for me. This involves at the very least: some quiet time, making the bed, taking a shower (hanging up my towel when I am done, of course!), putting on very simple makeup and getting dressed right down to my shoes. I always toss in a load of laundry as I am getting dressed. I find if I start out the day with those few things, I am ready for anything and feel energized to tackle my day! You can read about my MORNING ROUTINE in more detail here (with tips for establishing your own morning routine!).
2. Clean sinks. I learned the Fly lady system back when my son was born. I was taking care of him and my two grade school girls and during the day I was watching my nephew who was born five weeks before my son. All that and working part-time! With four kids taking over my tiny house, I ran into frustration over having too much to handle. Fly lady to the rescue! She broke it down for me and I listened: clean and shiny sinks, always. Interestingly, it was the same exact advice my mom taught me as a young girl!
I follow this principle both in our bathrooms and the kitchen. Something about striving for that shiny sink keeps me from letting dirty dishes pile up in the kitchen and icky stuff like hair and spit discouraging me every time I pass through the bathroom.
3. Cleaning frenzies. Since the beginning of our marriage, my husband and I have utilized what we call “cleaning frenzies” to give our home a quick clean up every day. A cleaning frenzy might last ten minutes or even up to an hour. But everyone participates, including the kids. We run around picking things up, putting things back, and generally tidying things up.
Sometimes we focus on one room; sometimes it is an entire house frenzy. Sometimes it is a task frenzy, like dusting or cleaning all toilets! It works like a charm to make a big impact in a short period of time. Even one “10-minute cleaning frenzy” a day keeps the frustration away.
4. Nightly kitchen clean up. Every night, almost without fail, we clean the kitchen. We put away dishes, load the final dishwasher load of the day, wipe off counters, and polish up the sink. There is nothing like waking up to a clean kitchen to make your day feel less overwhelming from the start.
If I have my basic routines down, my home stays “clean enough” most of the time. Keeping up on things means I rarely feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be done! When my home is maintained on a daily basis, it is really easy to add in a few extra tasks now and then to really shine things up or get things organized.
But if I let my daily routines go, my house soon spirals out of control. My house isn’t perfect by any means, but I am OK with that. It is CLEAN ENOUGH! I’m sticking to my tried and true basics. No more complicated chore charts for me! I promise, my four daily routines work!
What are your tried and true routines? What is your biggest area of frustration in keeping your house clean?
The Toxic Secret Hiding in Your Clean House
If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy my NYT Bestselling book on homemaking and being content with your home, called Love the Home You Have.
And, my new book Make Room for What You Love, which dives into your daily schedule, simplifying, decluttering, and organizing your home and life!
The Hidden Toxin in Your “Clean” House
Jump Start Your Day With a Simple 5 Minute Routine
How to Clean Up Your House in Five Minutes
Speed Cleaning Tips
5 Daily Habits for a Clean House
Top 10 Favorite Organizing Posts of 2013
“In a few days, we have a ton of company coming, what am I to do?”
Everyone has had this moment. You have company coming to visit, your home is a wreck, and you don’t have nearly enough time to clean it up. Below is an explanation of how to do a crash marathon cleaning session the FlyLady way, but be warned: without the routines, your home will be trashed again in a day, because you don’t have any habits to maintain it.
FlyLady has also created a podcast you can listen to on BlogTalkRadio where she walks you through the process. Listen to FlyLady’s Crisis Cleaning podcast.
- Get dressed to shoes, have your hair fixed and face washed and makeup on (if you use it). Don’t question this — just do it. Put on some good working music. Not too fast, just slow and steady. Peppy, but not aerobic. Light a candle that has a good scent or put on some spices on to boil on a very low heat.
- Set a timer and spend 15 minutes in the kitchen. We are going to start in our kitchens, because as the kitchen goes, so does the rest of the house. If your sink is not clean and shiny, then shine it first, then you can fill the sink up with hot soapy water and start to clear off the left and right counters. Empty the dishwasher. When the timer goes off, stop what you are doing and go to the living room.
- Set the timer again and do 15 minutes of cleaning off the coffee tables or picking up toys or newpapers. Concentrate on one thing, not all of it. Get a laundry basket and put the things that don’t belong in the living room in the basket. Take a garbage bag with you, too. Start throwing away the trash. Don’t get caught up in the guilt we have about recycling this stuff. Just bag it up for now. As you get your home in order, there will be plenty of time to recycle. For now, we are focusing on getting the home presentable. You can’t do this if you are hyperfocusing on sorting and recycling, so get over this perfectionism attitude. When the timer goes off, head back to the kitchen.
- In the kitchen, set the timer for 15 more minutes and continue to work on clearing the counters. Don’t get sidetracked and attempt to clean out a cabinet. We’re only doing surface cleaning here. We’re making your home presentable, not perfect.
- Now, take a break and walk around and look at what you have accomplished in just 45 minutes. Set the timer for 15 minutes and drink a cup of tea or coffee or whatever you love and just relax. When the timer goes off, you are back in work mode for 15 more minutes.
- This 15 minute session is in the bathroom. Clean the bathroom sink first, swish the toilet, then pick up towels and dirty clothes and put them in the hamper. Once again, don’t get sidetracked and start a load of laundry. You need a clean bathroom before you need clean clothes! The laundry will come later.
- When the timer goes off, you are back in the kitchen for 15 more minutes. After the counters are cleared, sweep the floor and wipe down the countertops and appliances. We can do anything in 15 minutes! Keep working until the timer goes off. Then you go to the living room once again.
- In the living room, continue to pick up and put away. Once everything is in its place, vacuum and dust.
- Every 45 minutes, take a 15 minute break. Rotate around the house every 15 minutes. Do you understand this?
Adapt this schedule to fit your physical limitations and children’s needs. But, you get the picture: stay focused on one job for 15 minutes, then move onto another. You are going to be so surprised at how much you get done in a day’s time!
The timer is your best friend. You can do this. Now turn off the computer and get to work!