Friday, June 8, 2012

What Works For Me: Household Chores

I'll admit to being a neat freak, and people often comment that my house is very tidy, even with two little boys underfoot.  It's weird, I realize, but I actually enjoy cleaning as a stress-reliever, the way some people play tennis, and I feel happier and more relaxed when my surroundings are in order.  I've always been that way, and I've just come to accept it as one of my quirks.  So I thought I'd share my process for keeping things neat, just in case you might like to try it.

When I was working outside the home, before I had children, I would typically spend one whole day (either a day off work or a part of the weekend) cleaning all the rooms in our house.  I didn't really enjoy this, since it meant hours of work when I should have been relaxing, and I certainly didn't look forward to it.  But I cleaned everything because it needed to be cleaned, and because that's just the way I operate.  Procrastination is not in my nature (I guess that goes along with being a neat freak), so I just sucked up my frustration and pressed on.

But everything went out the window once I had a new baby who required all of my time and energy, and with his arrival, I realized that I needed a more efficient system.  Now, I focus on one main chore each day, with little jobs scattered here and there.  Here's what works for me:

  • Monday: I change and wash all the bed linens, and dust the rooms while I am working.
  • Tuesday: I clean the kitchen counters, sink, table and chairs (which need it with two children eating all the time).
  • Wednesday: I clean the guest bathroom, which is the one used most by Ryan and the boys during the day.
  •  Thursday: I dust and vacuum the floors.
  • Friday: I clean our master bathroom and wash the towels. 
  • Saturday or Sunday: I wash Ryan's clothes and any other laundry, depending on our schedule.
These are my main weekly chores, and I also have a few other small tricks that help me maximize my time every day.

I run the dishwasher several times a week, always starting it when I go to bed, and then I unload it in the morning while the boys eat breakfast.  It's so much easier to do it first thing and have an empty dishwasher that can be reloaded right away.  I also wash any dishes that need to be reused again (like the boys' cups), and I sweep and clean around the table as needed after each meal, too.

I share a hamper with James and Rhys, so I wash our things once or twice a week, either first thing in the morning or in the evening, after the boys take their baths.  Then, I fold the clothes while I watch television or listen to music at night, so it's not a boring task and goes much faster.  If nobody is watching, I'll turn up the radio and dance or do lunges as I work to get a bit of a workout in. 

I usually try to complete each chore early, and after breakfast is a happy time at our house, since the boys have full stomachs and are content to play for a while.  If we have an activity planned, I will save my daily chore for during naptime, but I try not to spend more than a few minutes "working" while they are sleeping, since it's my quiet time, too.  I also involve the boys if possible, and James developed an enormous affinity for vacuums after watching me work.  Even the most mundane task is fascinating to a child, and James and Rhys can happily dust shelves or clean mirrors while I tackle a quick chore.

Also, if something doesn't get done, it's not a big deal, and there's plenty of time to get to it another day.  Today, for example, I had a doctor's appointment while our sitter watched James and Rhys, and then we ate lunch, played outside, and took a nap.  I never swept the floors, and they might not get done tomorrow, either.  But everything else is pretty much in order, so it doesn't bother me.

This is just a routine that works well for me, and please take it with a grain of salt.  I'm terrible at meal planning and don't like to cook, so that's an area of my life that could definitely use improvement.  But I do like a clean house, and it makes me happy to maintain it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to sing and dance fold some laundry.