Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The NOT best housekeeper and why Pinterest is clearly a good use of time

I am not the best housekeeper on the planet.

In fact, one could argue that I am quite far from such a noble distinction. Sure, I have seen houses in worse states of disarray. Some filled with more clutter, others with genuine dirt and grime. Mine tends to swing from "looks-like-a-tornado-ripped-through" at worst to "mostly acceptable" at best. But most of the time, I feel like I'm barely treading water, trying to get everything done.

This is one aspect of living my vocation that I have struggled with, not only in the doing, but in the valuing. When my first son was born, I fretted about how difficult it was to stay home with a baby and vented more than once to well-meaning friends, "I didn't quit my job to be a housekeeper!" That was when I still had a tough time with my new identity of stay-home-mom and felt like keeping the house was beneath me. I would not have admitted such a thing at the time, mind you. But deep down, that is how I felt.

Over the years, my heart has softened to the realities of my vocation and I've realized there is value and honor in even those simple (and sometimes thankless) tasks of keeping a house. During this phase of my life, my role is to care for my family. This is not only lived out in the kissing of boo-boos, reading of books, and feeding of cookies to my little people. It also has to include the feeding and the cooking and the cleaning; the less glamorous tasks of daily life that simply must get done.

I often let those things go, and the truth is, it isn't because I don't have time. Granted, I don't have time for a perfectly clean house (and who am I kidding, I wouldn't have a perfectly clean house even if I had the time). I don't need a house that is spotless from top to bottom. We live in our house. And still, I could do a much better job of creating a space that is orderly, and by extension, serene.

A neat freak I am not, but I do love a cleaned up room. Things in their places, lined up just so. There is a loveliness in order, in being clean and ready for the next round of living. I am always in a much more peaceful mood when things are reasonably well clean and picked up around here - yet all too often I fail miserably at keeping my house in such a condition.

I ran across something on Pinterest that linked to a blog post on how to have a "fake" immaculate house in 15 minutes a day. I read through it and it was like a light bulb. It is so simple, and I feel silly for not having tried something like this before. I've been at this for almost 7 years now (the stay home mom thing), and I have spent most of that time feeling overwhelmed, like I can't keep up. (Wait, why did I feel that way when I only had one child?) This approach is simple, although does require a level of diligence I'm not accustomed to devoting to keeping my house clean. But I want to give it a try to see if it can ease some of the burden I feel, and keep my house from deteriorating into a state that drives me crazy.

I created a schedule for myself that breaks up the major housecleaning tasks to be done throughout the week. I only have one or two things to do in a given day, and although I think it's going to take me longer than 15 minutes a day, it shouldn't be too much to handle - if I have the self discipline to work at it. Changing habits isn't easy, and I know I'll have the tendency to let things slide out of laziness and procrastination. But I think this has the potential to help me out a bit and keep me on top of things without driving myself nuts in the process.

My schedule looks something like this:
  • Monday - vacuum downstairs
  • Tuesday - clean master bathroom, take out garbage
  • Wednesday - vacuum upstairs (this one is tricky, because I can't do it during naptime)
  • Thursday - clean other two bathrooms (one is just a small half bath downstairs)
  • Friday - dust and clean kitchen floor

I'm also going to make an effort to clean up the kitchen at the end of the day (still need to do that today... yikes), and do a load of laundry every day - and get it put away. The dishes I tend to stay on top of for the most part. The laundry is the bane of my existence. I'm good at getting it washed and dried, but from there it tends to accumulate into an enormous pile, which I am quite certain has the capability to breed (I just wish it would breed something stylish). Instead of doing a bunch of loads once or twice a week, which I never have time to fold and put away as I go, I'll do a load or two each day. I can find the time to put away one or two loads of laundry, for the most part. I think this will help me keep up and not find ourselves digging through the Great Pile of Clothes each morning to find something to wear.

My kids will get in on the action as appropriate, and I'm hoping this will help me integrate them into the housekeeping chores more naturally. I haven't been great about getting them to help with things, but it's so much more work to get things done with little hands "helping." My boys are finally old enough that they can be of real help, at least some of the time. And I need to make a better effort to get them to help around the house so I'm not kicking myself down the road for not requiring it of them.

We shall see how it goes. I'll be honest, I'm already behind. I didn't vacuum the upstairs today. But like I said, that one is tricky, since my optimum chores time is when my daughter is napping, and I can't vacuum upstairs when she's asleep. But the beauty of this routine, is that if I miss something one week, I can just do it the next and it shouldn't be too big of a deal. I'll be cleaning things way more often than I usually do this way, so missing a week should be fine.

And see, Pinterest is clearly a worthy use of my time!

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