Thinking back to my first years as a young wife and mother… I remember talking to friends and the phrase would often come up “I’m bored… I can only clean so much.” ” Yes!” I would adamantly agree. I didn’t enjoy cleaning in the least, I would do the dishes when I had to… like when all the dishes were dirty. I would have a clean and tidy living room at times too… when I was expecting company. (It got clean because I gathered all the clutter and stuffed it in my bedroom so I could close the door.)
Keeping the house clean was something I didn’t understand how to do.
Sure, I knew how to deep clean. And now and then, I would… I would scrub the tub and the toilet, clean out the fridge and vacuum the living room floor. But the house was never kept clean.
Honestly, it’s not something I really wanted to change either.
The idea of having a clean house seemed like I would spend all my days running after my kids to pick up behind them. I imagined myself folding clothes and constantly putting them away. I was sure if I did the dishes regularly, it would take me 2 hours a day.
That’s not how I wanted to spend my time.
There were so many more fun things to do, I loved sewing quilts, I was an avid scrapbooker, I loved reading, and well, Oprah was on every afternoon.
I can’t justify in the least that I didn’t clean because I wanted to sit and play with my toddlers or take them to the park. Certainly, it’s easier to claim that lofty goal, but for me, the fact is: I hated cleaning. There were so many other things I would rather do with my time and any sort of household maintenance was annoying.
For me, the journey to finding joy in cleaning my home was a long, drawn-out process. But it doesn’t have to be for you! That’s why I’ve broken down the whole process for you here.
Please keep in mind though, even though you can learn to enjoy cleaning much faster than I did, (it took me a good 10 years!!) changing your thoughts and actions is not something you can have immediate, over-night success with. But keep working at it, I’m positive you can get there must faster than I did!!
Start with a simple morning and evening routine: do the dishes, throw away any trash and wipe the kitchen counters off. Doing the dishes twice day takes very little time. I do my typical routine in about 10 minutes. That means I spend a whopping 20 minutes a day cleaning house. So much for the hours idea, right? My routine even includes doing a load of laundry and getting it put away.
The important thing to know about this is: if you do little things each day, it is never allowed to become an overwhelming heap.
When you are planning out your morning and evening routine, keep it manageable: keep it to only a couple things. You can add more in later if you wish, but for the first month, keep it very minimal. This way it sets you up for success. If you plan out too much, that in itself can be overwhelming and you can burn out.
Get rid of a bunch.
It’s not fun to clean the kitchen counters when you actually have to move a rice cooker, coffee pot, kitchen aid mixer, water filter, piles of paper, boxes of cereal and baskets of fruit. To move all that and wipe off the counters? Yeah, I’ll find something else to do… thank-you-very-much.
Work a little each day to get rid of that excess:
How often do you use the appliances sitting on the counter? Does it actually justify the space it takes? If you need to keep it, are there things inside the cabinets that you don’t use that you can get rid of to make cupboard space for these things?
Most often things are on the counters because there isn’t room in the cupboards for them. So sort through those cupboards, get rid of things you don’t use and make space for the things you do need there.
Once the counters are clear, having to wipe them clean after cooking dinner takes very little effort. That is a big secret to keeping the house clean. When you only have what you need, keeping up on it is easy.
After the counters are done, work your way around the room (stay in the kitchen till it’s done) one category at a time. It’s easier to focus, if you are only going to work for 15-30 minutes. Only sort one space or category at time and put things away in that area before moving to another space.
Set a weekly cleaning time.
This is not something I figured out until just a few years ago. I had the daily cleaning down, but I still was embarrassed that the floors were sticky and the bathtub always needed hefty cleaners to remove the soap scum.
I had always felt like the weekends should be enjoyed and I felt bad asking my husband to clean the house after he worked all week. (More on this thought in a minute!)
But when I finally determined to have a ” weekly reset” of the house, it made such a HUGE difference!
We have a bigger family, so now, every Saturday around 10 AM, all 7 of us get to work. One person takes the kitchen, one person the bathroom, one the living/dining room and the little kids work on their room. Brian and I normally work on the same room together along with giving direction to the littles on what steps they need to take.
All the surfaces get cleaned- even on top of the fridge (say what?! That used to be a yearly chore!). The tub is scrubbed, the floors are all swept/mopped/vacuumed, everything is dusted (I always wondered when people found the time to dust the picture frames!).
Because everyone is working at once, often with load upbeat music, it takes us 60-90 minutes and the house is beautiful. Like the-cleaning-lady-just-left beautiful.
Then we are free to do whatever we want for the weekend.
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Change your thought process.
Think positively about your cleaning activities. This part is a big deal!! I always hated cleaning, felt it was a waste of time and like I said before, I felt bad asking my husband to clean as well. I felt like it was admitting I wasn’t capable and in some ways failing in my “wifely duties.”
But that added to my issues. The more I thought “I hate cleaning, I’m not even good at it.” Well, the more I did hate it.
As I learned to enforce the weekly cleaning (with myself as well as the kids), I noticed, I enjoyed the outcome. I learned to ask my husband to take charge of certain areas or rooms and he happily obliged.
For me, I had to learn how to communicate what I wanted on “house cleaning day” instead of assuming he knew. He doesn’t care as much about the state of the house as I do, so he wouldn’t notice things that drove me nuts: like clutter collecting on the piano. He doesn’t have a problem taking care of it, he just never cared about it. Now that he knows it’s important to me, he’ll chip in and put things away.
I began to look forward to Saturdays because I knew the house would be pretty. I learned to say to myself “I enjoy cleaning on Saturdays!”
I often invited people over for Saturday afternoon or evening get-togethers, because I knew the house would be something I was proud of.
And my thoughts changed from “I hate cleaning” to “I love having a clean house.”
And now, after a few years of having that weekly cleaning time in place, I’m excited to say that I wake up on Saturdays eager to clean. I find fun music, the kids and I race to get things done. And often times, the teens will end up talking to me while we work together.
And as an added benefit: The kids are learning that we clean on Saturdays.
Does it have to be the weekend?
No. It doesn’t. But for most people, the best time to do this weekly cleaning is at the beginning of your “weekend,” regardless of what day it is.
- Because you wake up fresh and have more energy on the weekend, more so than on a typical work day, even if you are a stay at home mom: when you have no school requirements and your spouse is home, it’s easier to get the house cleaning done.
- Getting the house to a clean state means you can enjoy the rest of the time off without thinking of things that “should” be done. When everything is caught up and nothing in the house is pressing, your mind can relax and enjoy some much needed R & R.