So far we have talked about everything having a home and creating some routines for our household management. This week we will tackle cleaning. Some people naturally settle into a cleaning routine and others have to work a little harder at it (ahem – putting my hand up). Some people want an immaculate house and some aim simply to keep up with the basics. The key is to tap into what works for you and do it consistently so that it rarely (if ever) builds up and becomes a major effort to clean.
What is your minimum standard cleaning routine?
One key to simplifying your cleaning systems is to decide on your minimum standards. This is such a personal thing that it is critical to be honest and figure this out for yourself. Decide what this looks like for you and commit to meeting those standards on a weekly basis. If it is a good week you go beyond that minimum level and tackle some additional tasks and chores, but if a week is bad / busy / crazy you can let go of the “extras” knowing you met your minimum standards.
An example of this for me is I unload and reload the dishwasher every single day without fail as part of my minimums, but have no problem letting go of mopping floors if my week is busy or I am not operating at 100%. For someone else it might be they always stay on top of vacuuming and mopping, but they let go of things like dusting if need be (and still others would say “dusting? do people dust?”). The trick is to find what works for you rather than worrying about some list someone else created or a standard set by your mother or mother-in-law or an ideal you have in your mind of what a home “should” be like. Striving to reach a standard set by someone else is only complicating your life. You can choose a high standard if that is what you want for yourself. I am not proposing everyone suddenly operate at my minimum standards all the time etc.
A person who chooses a more relaxed approach to cleaning is not a lesser person than one who maintains an immaculate home. It comes down to values and priorities which are personal. One person might choose a more relaxed standard in order to allow for a calmer home, more time for other things or simply it is what makes them feel comfortable in their own home. Another family might thrive on a space free of clutter or need a spotless home for health reasons, etc.
What is your cleaning approach?
Another key to the cleaning puzzle is figuring out if you like to follow a set routine or clean as you feel it is needed. If you (want to ) have a routine is it a strict do X on Y day approach or a list of tasks to complete by the end of the week? You can have a checklist, follow a system like flylady, set reminders in your phone, use an app, or roll with the changing needs of your family and do more cleaning as needed and go with the flow.
Do you use any systems to save you time and effort with cleaning?
My two favourite ways to simplify cleaning and make it easier on myself are decluttering and batching tasks.
Decluttering and tidying to simplify cleaning
One of the best routines you could invest your time in would have to be daily decluttering and tidying up. I admit I struggle with this one and have to work constantly on “end of day tidying” as my kids are often doing things up to the last minute and then I find I am too tired to deal with it. We work at building in a buffer of the last 15 minutes before bedtime routines to pack away stuff and throw out the random stuff that comes into our house on a daily basis.
If you have ever had someone come to clean your house (or talked to a friend who has a regular cleaner) you know that it is normal to tidy away everything before the cleaner comes. It has less to do with keeping up appearances and not wanting your cleaner to know you are a slob and more to do with efficiency. It is easier to tackle a room that is cleared of clutter and get on with the task of cleaning. If you have not packed away stuff you will be less inclined to whip out the vacuum cleaner or mop as you have the additional task of stopping to clear the space. Regularly decluttering and tidying creates a space that you are more likely to clean consistently.
Batch tasks together to simplify cleaning (and other household tasks)
Much of the effort in household management comes from organising a task, set up, prep and putting things away so it saves a lot of time and energy when we batch tasks together. Some examples are:
- save up your ironing and do 1 big lot each week instead of daily ironing (the exception might be someone with a dedicated space that includes leaving an iron and board permanently set up).
- if you have a house with more than one bathroom consider cleaning them all on the same day in 1 cleaning session
- vacuum your whole house or a whole level at a time rather than 1 room at a time (ie someone who has “clean master bedroom” on their plan which includes vacuuming vs. someone who has “vacuum” on theirs and will get it all done)
- cook double or triple batches of some meals or lunchbox foods and stock your freezer (if you have the space this is very time and energy efficient as it takes only minutes more on prep and clean up)
Challenge for week 28: Consider the 3 questions posed and see what you already do, what works for you and what does not. If you have been struggling to keep up with someone else’s standard you might rethink what your minimums are and what your aims are for each week. If you have no routine at all, and hate operating like that, you might work out a plan and try that for a few weeks and see what works better for you. Basically – this week we are creating or fine tuning our approaches to cleaning. Share your routine or method, any tips you have for simplifying this aspect of home life or any lessons learned.
Find your simple,
Link up for week 27 (or any posts for SYL you have done)
Image credit: flickr user go_greener_oz