Friday, March 26, 2010

Whistle While You Work

Welcome, friends from Kelly's Korner! Today for the Show Us How You Live Series, it's all about getting down to the nitty, that is.

I grew up in a home where the house was cleaned once a week. The rooms were tidied daily. Toothbrushes and Q-tips were frequent cleaning assistants. If it was a surface (baseboards and windowsills included), we dusted it. If it was a linen (curtains, bedding and pillows included), we washed it. Our house was always clean, always smelled fresh and was ready to visitors at any given time. And that's how, I thought, everyone cleaned.

Imagine my horror when, for the first time as a young adult, I walked into a home with un-dusted baseboards. Or when I realized the "spring cleaning" for most people just meant to clean the house a little more than normal (for us it always meant cleaning EVERY SINGLE surface of EVERY SINGLE room, then cleaning the carpets and walls and the whole nine yards).

Don't get me wrong, I loved growing up in a clean house (note: I said growing up in a clean house...I did NOT say cleaning the house). There was a sense of comfort in it. And then I got married. And then we moved into our 3 bedroom, 2 bath home where the majority of cleaning tasks were left to me, the stay at home wife (another note: hubby helps, I promise!). I realized very quickly that Mom's style of cleaning was not my style of cleaning. I really WANTED my house to be clean all the time, but I was also very realistic in my expectations of time management. Contrary to my belief, sleeping is not as important as wiping every single mini blind with a damp cloth. it didn't take very long at all for me to wake up and realize it just wasn't going to work...but it did take a little longer for me to be ok with it. You see, the OCD part of me really wasn't ready to let go. (If you question whether or not the OCD part of me still wins, checkthis out!)

So, I was ready to move past the perfectly clean, 24 hours a day home and move into a mind set of priorities and reality. At the time, I was working 2 days a week outside the home (cleaning, no less) so I really had to figure out a good system for making it all happen on a regular basis without killing myself. The result of that is a list of cleaning tips. Now, I realize this is not for everyone. I know I'm still a little (a lot some days!) OCD when it comes to home management and chances are that most of you are not. That's ok! The bottom line is to decide what works for you and go with it! You're probably gonna read this list and prepare an intervention and I totally get that. Just know that when you come to take me away, my house will more than likely be clean :)

*Have a (flexible) plan.
For me, it was important to decide just how often I would need/want to clean. Cleaning the entire house every single week wasn't an option. But I also know that waiting more than about 2 weeks to clean led to some pretty scary situations in the toilets. While I wanted to have clean curtains, it was neither feasible or necessary to wash them every other week.

I started with a master list...I listed every single cleaning task (divided by room) that I'd like to accomplish over the course of a year. Then, I marked each according to how often the task needed to be completed (every week, every other week, monthly, every other month, every 3 months/4 months/6 months, once a year). I assigned each task a month for completion while considering how weather may affect completing a task (it probably makes more sense to wash windows when it's warm sunny, rather than snowy).

For me, having every possible thing on the list was important. Even things like change the sheets and water the plants on my list. Granted, those are things that I probably wouldn't need a reminder for, but I'm all about marking things off of a list :) I typed it all up, using cute fonts, of course, printed it and hung it in my office. At the beginning of each week, I decide which tasks need to be completed and add them to my planner.

The best part is this...if it doesn't get done, it just doesn't get done! (Yes, mother, I'm finally in a place where I'm ok with that!) I'll just bump it to the next day or week or month. As with any plan that's any good, flexibility is a must!

*Store cleaners in a sensible manner.
I've found 2 solutions for cleaner storage that seem to work better than anything else:
*Store cleaners where you use them.
I have cleaners stored in my kitchen and in both the bathrooms. The little pull out drawer pictured above is in the kitchen where it holds all the general household cleaners and things that I use to clean the kitchen. The bathroom baskets contain things like toilet and shower cleaner.
*Have a cleaning supply bucket.
Choose 4-5 cleaners that will cover just about any surface/problem throughout the house and store them in a bucket with a handle. When you start cleaning, you can toss in a few cleaning rags and tote the bucket from room to room with ease.

*Whistle while you work...

...or dance or sing. This tip is non-negotiable. I find that I clean much quicker and and am in a much better mood while doing so when I have some good tunes playing. Feel free to pause mid clean to bust out some mean dance moves while singing into the duster...not that that's what I do...

*Top to bottom...Right to left.
It's important to start cleaning up high and end with the floor. Dusting at eye level will cause dust to fall to the floor so clean the floor last. I'm prone to get distracted while cleaning (any excuse to get out of it, right?!), so I force myself to take one room at a time and use a right to left method. When I enter a room, I start on the wall to my right and work my way around the room. I also start on one end of the house and work my way to the other end. This helps to keep me focused and I don't have to wonder if I've missed something along the way.

*Take a break.
I always take a break (or 10) while cleaning my house. It takes me several hours to do so I make sure to stop for lunch or a snack to break up the monotony.

*Be realistic in your expectations.
If you know that you only have 3 hours a week to devote to cleaning, decide what's most important and stick to it. Don't expect to get it all done every single time. Also, know that the world will not end if your to-do list isn't completed. I promise :)

*Reward yourself for a job well done.
Whether you cleaned a picture frame or your entire house, you should reward yourself. It's amazing what a little promise of ice cream will do :)

Do you have any cleaning tips? Share them with us!
Happy Cleaning!
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