Monday, February 16, 2009

Cleaning up my Physical House

Of all of the ‘houses’ that I am trying to clean up, I will say that cleaning up the actual house is the easiest. This is not to say that I like to clean, or that I keep an immaculate house, but basically cleaning is pretty easy. Pick things up, put them away, wipe counters, mop floors, vacuum – none of them require a lot of brain power.

However, what do you do when you start with heaping piles of dishes, toys, paperwork, laundry, and a whole host of other doo-dads and what nots? One thing at a time. When you are starting with a mess that seems out of control, just do one thing. Focus on one area or just do one thing. Soon, all of those one things turn into many things and the piles get smaller.

There is one technique that I discovered a few years ago that has literally changed my ability to clean house and I will explain that now.

Does this sound familiar? Decide you are going to clean off the kitchen counter. You notice that you have about 8-10 pens or pencils (No wonder you can never find a pen at your desk!). Take pens and pencils to your desk. Put them away. Notice that there are 3 toy cars and a handful of legos on your desk. Take toy cars and legos to sons room. Decide that his room is a bigger disaster than you last realized. Put away toy cars and legos. Look around and see dirty socks, pajamas, pants, and shirts. Take dirty clothes to laundry. Decide that if you don’t start laundry now you won’t finish until next week sometime. Open washer, eeewwww, you forgot to put clothes in dryer. Start washer again to rewash soured clothes. Take laundry out of dryer. Fold laundry. Take clean dish towels to the kitchen. Wait a minute, now 30 minutes has passed and you have only cleaned 8-10 pencils off of the counter that you were cleaning!!!

This used to be my problem. It would seem like I was cleaning and picking up all day long, but never actually getting anything cleaned up! So, now I don’t clean like that anymore. I now have a designated basket that I take from room to room with me when I am cleaning. So, if I am cleaning up the kitchen, I take the basket into the kitchen with me, and as I am cleaning and I run across something that doesn’t belong in that room. Instead of taking it to the room, I put it in the basket. This way, I don’t get sidetracked and I actually get the space cleaned up!
Once I am finished with that one space, I go to the next space and take the items out of the basket that belong in that space. The basket is stored in a central location and everyone knows that if they can’t find it – Look in the basket! I empty it out completely every week.

I also have a cleaning schedule. I know the spaces in my house that need to be cleaned daily, weekly, and monthly. So I put them all on a calendar and clean them on that day. Everyday I do a general clean up, and more importantly, I require the kids to help. Also, I try to do one load of laundry per day, and wash dishes everyday.

Cleaning time generally takes me about an hour to an hour and a half each day.
I didn’t learn from my parents how to keep a clean house. My mother was a single mom and just gave up on requiring us to keep our rooms clean. However, she did give me a book that truly helped me learn to clean my room. I highly recommend it for children and parents!! I still use the lessons that I learned from this book, and I will soon be giving one to our youngest son to help him.

If you have any cleaning tips, please, post them in your comments! Every bit helps!

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Great post! I am faced right now with a tiny house filled with 36 years of accumulation, so I am on a "dejunking mission". Since the task is huge and I have very limited time, I carve out 15 minutes a day. Yep, that's it, just 15 per day. I started with my workshop closet and it is looking pretty darn good.

I often end up going over the 15 minutes, but you would be amazed what you can get done when you know you only have 15 minutes! It may take me a few days to get one closet done, but then it's done and I move on.

I suggest breaking down great big projects into smaller tasks that aren't so overwhelming.