Trying to keep up with housekeeping tasks can lead to frustration, anger and depression when you just can't manage it all. Let's face it, life is busy and most of the time we have too much on our plates to do everything as well as we'd like. I can't bear to look at another "expert's" housekeeping gold standard schedule without feeling like an inept failure. That's why I love this "Real World" system of sanctuary.
Today, we are going to try and put our emotions aside and look rationally at creating a Housekeeping Schedule that will get you past the inertia that sets in when things get overwhelming. Did you have a chance to do Step 1 and Step 2 leading up to Today's Small Thing? They'll really help you get ready to make this simple schedule.
Let's lay a few ground rules:
1. Decide on a realistic level of cleanliness for the season of life you are currently in. Your housekeeping standards will change many times over the years, depending on the time you can devote, your energy level and even your own attitude. The ages of your children will affect how much you can do yourself, and how much you can delegate. So don't be too hard on yourself if THIS particular go-round with creating a schedule doesn't look like much.
2. Don't set your standards by your mother-in-law's, Martha Stewart's or your neighbor's. Often, "clean enough" is enough.
3. Group tasks together that make sense. For example, creating one chunk of time per week to run errands, rather than running around every day, will free up more time. A whole day that was supposed to be devoted to home tasks can get eaten up with a simple trip to the Post Office, so you want to limit the times you have to get out and about, if possible.
4. Life is not all about cleaning. But having things neat and tidy affects your life in a very big way. My husband feels loved when he walks into a clean living room, and that makes all of us much happier. Believe me. But he would rather have me cheerfully loving on him than bitterly yanking clothes from the dryer. Sometimes you have to make choices and cleaning loses out. People come first.
5. Be flexible. A schedule should serve YOU, not the other way around. Things happen. Life changes. Don't come unglued if your schedule doesn't work all the time. Just pick up where you left off as best you can.
6. Delegate. There is no reason that you, and you alone, should do all the work. That does not mean that your children should be your slaves. But each child should be able (and expected to) pick up their own things, and perhaps do one or two simple things around the house on a regular basis. We can cover that more, later. But realize that you will almost always have to help them remember to do their jobs, so just get over it. Kids have amnesia, and they also suffer from "Can't See the Mess Syndrome."
7. Don't overplan. If you work a full day and then have to take your kids to basketball practice, don't plan a "whole house" overhaul on that day, unless you just love being frustrated. Maybe that's an evening in which you collapse on the couch with a bowl of ice cream. That's OK! You need time to relax, too.
Alrighty. Let's get down to business. I will give you examples of a Stay at Home Mom schedule, and a Work Outside the Home Mom schedule. I've kept these very simple and general, and not included many outside activities, just so that you can see how I've divided up the work. Your own schedules may look completely different than mine. And if you are a nurse, or work retail hours that change from week to week, you may have to make more than one schedule to reflect your situation.
First, I've taken a look at the things I want to do daily and included them in my Minimum Maintenance routine. These things don't go into my weekly schedule. I normally do most of my Minimum Maintenance in the evenings, when the kids can help (5-10 min), because I like to wake up to a tidy house.
Don't underestimate the incredible power of Minimum Maintenance. I've survived WHOLE YEARS on doing little more than that each day. Somehow, Minimum Maintenance makes the rest of the housekeeping tasks much more manageable.
When I was a SAHM, I liked to do my major housecleaning on Mondays. That gave us more time on Saturdays for other things, and allowed me to supervise the kids' simple chores, which seemed to drag on forever. When I was distracted with my own jobs, I couldn't help them accomplish theirs.
You can see that Monday and Tuesday are the hardest housekeeping workdays, but then those things are done and the rest of the week is fairly easy. Since most of your time is spent caring for children, I use the term "easy" loosely.
Now, for a working mom, things are a little trickier because you have to work AROUND your "paid" work schedule. Again, doing your Minimum Maintenance is the magic pill that will make things run more smoothly, but you will still need the cooperation of all family members. Theoretically, since you are gone during the day, your house "should" stay cleaner because you aren't there to mess it up, but some would argue that point. Some pretty big messes can be made "after hours."
You may have to break big tasks, like laundry, up into smaller pieces to get them done. More of your housekeeping will have to fall on the weekends. I've found that I have to relax some of my standards during the week so that I'm not grumpy all the time. I want my kids to remember me enjoying life, (and them!), rather me yelling at them.
One last point: If you notice, I have not broken my tasks down into detailed sub-tasks and specific chores in most cases. I have left things pretty loose and general because I find that when I start complicating things, I don't follow through. That's just me, I'm pathetic that way. I also don't assign specific times to my tasks because they are tucked into the overall job of parenting and keeping the wheels on things. I cannot stress myself out over sticking to a time schedule along with everything else.
Today's Small Thing is to print off a blank Housekeeping Schedule and play around with plugging in your tasks. You probably won't make the "perfect" schedule right off the bat, so maybe try 2 or 3 different options. If you need to make a 2-week or 1 Month schedule because it just doesn't all fit into one week, that's perfectly fine!
Creating a simple and general schedule frees you from thinking that you have to try and dig out from your disaster in one day. On Monday, do Monday's jobs and don't worry about Tuesday's jobs. On Tuesday, do Tuesday's jobs, and so on. Give yourself time to get the tasks into a "pipeline" and you will see how beautifully it can work. Be patient and stay committed to creating some order, and it will happen.
Feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions, and link to your own post if you have posted about this task! Let us know what works for you, what doesn't, and if you feel you might be able to do this.
Song of the Day: Spoonful of Sugar, Mary Poppins