A lot of people may look at the title of this article and think it silly. However, housekeeping is a skill like anything else, and it doesn’t come with an instruction manual, and there are no classes. It’s a skill we either pick up by absorption, example, instruction, or self-teaching methods.
I grew up in a clean house, but for whatever reason, I never really learned how to clean house until I was in my mid 20s, married, with a baby. For the first time in my life, I was not working full-time. I realized my former devil-may-care attitude about keeping house was not going to work in creating and maintaining the pleasant environment I desired.
I decided to teach myself to clean my house and keep it clean. I used a daily planner from the dollar store, and put myself on a schedule. After several weeks of sticking to this easy schedule, I realized I had managed to keep my house clean, organized, and neat. My friends started making comments like, “How do you manage to have your house so perfect with a baby?”
The reason it worked, I think, is that a schedule divided the work up–compartmentalized it into daily maintenance routines-so that the idea of housecleaning was for the first time, an ongoing event, instead of a mad, overwhelming, do-or-die, all-day scramble.
I learned for the first time, the inbox is never empty. Keeping a clean house is an ongoing process, but does not have to be a big production, source of anxiety, or overwhelming at all.
Below are some suggestions for creating your own housecleaning journal.
What you’ll need
A daily planner, blank journal, or notebook
Well stocked cleaning supplies
The determination to stick to a schedule for one month
Begin by making four lists
Begin by thinking about your main troubles in keeping your house clean and ordered. Is laundry, unorganized papers, general clutter, or stacks of dirty dishes– the biggest problem? Or, are there particular rooms that confound you-the bathroom, bedroom, or kitchen?
After you’ve recognized your problem areas, make a list of ongoing maintenance chores, a list of weekly chores, and a list of even rarer chores, designated “monthly,” and a final list of projects. Be certain to include your problem areas, perhaps putting a star by them, just so you know to be extra aware of them while compiling lists, and later, creating a schedule.
Ongoing daily chores might include washing dishes, laundry, sweeping, making beds, putting clothes away, and daily type things. Even if you can’t or don’t intend to do these things daily, put all of the things you probably need to do more than once a week into this “ongoing” list.
Weekly chores might include mopping, dusting, watering plants, scrubbing the bathtub, taking out the trash, changing linens, going through accumulated mail and/or papers.
Monthly chores might include cleaning and vacuuming the car, cleaning out the refrigerator, polishing wood furniture or floors, steam cleaning, mini-vacuuming under sofa and chair cushions, or anything that only needs to be done once in a while. Put everything that doesn’t need to be done at least once a week into this list.
Finally, the project list is going to be for (hopefully) one-time things. Organizing closets, going through and donating old clothing and other items, cleaning out desks and kitchen cabinets, are all the type of thing that will go in this list.
Clearly, the lists are going to be highly individualized. Some people may look at the daily list examples, see “doing dishes” and think it absurd-obviously, that’s just a given. However, I have known many people who have a real problem in this area. I’ve even known a guy who ended up throwing away every single item that had been heaped and rotting in his sink and on the countertops for months.
If any cleaning event is just a given to you, there’s probably no need to list it anywhere if you’re already in the habit of doing it with no issues. In all the lists, write down the things that seem to be problematic. The idea of making the lists is so you can begin to see a dynamic-what needs and should be done and how often.
Also consider organizing chores by room. Although there will be multiple tasks, like sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, organizing, washing, scrubbing, etc., it is a nicely compartmentalized and contained way of cleaning that may work well for some people, as an alternate to general, house-wide individual tasks. So, if you decide to go this route, make a list of chores for each room.
If you keep your laundry baskets or hamper in the bedroom, laundry would then be included in the list and on the day (see below) you designate for cleaning the bedroom. If you need or desire to do dishes every day, then of course, this will be a chore in the “ongoing” list.
Even with a room-by-room method, there will be chores left over like this. Be sure to include them properly in the schedule. Which brings us to the next step…
Creating a schedule
Using your lists as a guide, create a month-long schedule for housecleaning chores. Put all the ongoing chores, weekly, and projects in proper places. When finished, you’ll have a great learning tool. Sticking to the schedule is of course, the biggest issue. Simply determine to stick with it for a full month. After a month of sticking to it, you will have developed the habits of keeping a clean house.
If, after a month, you still find you need to keep a written schedule, by all means continue making them. You may also be surprised once you begin, that doing laundry just once a week as you thought doesn’t cut it, or that your fridge really doesn’t need to be cleaned weekly to keep things in order.
These “mistakes” and misjudgments are part of the learning process-the idea of the schedule is to teach you what to do and how often, based on your personal lifestyle. Simply amend the schedule in your journal as needed, making notes to yourself as necessary.
Use your journal every day, to make sure you know what you have to do, and to check things off, and make notes and amendments as needed. No one else need see your journal-remember that it’s a learning tool for you, and that housecleaning is a learned skill. If you follow your schedule, I can guarantee after a month, you will be in the habit of keeping a clean house.