Here's my progress from January:
Musings on the Month:
- My home is cleaner than it has been since... well, a very long time! Best of all, it is not a fleeting (and rare) "just cleaned everything" feel, it is more of a "the house is always relatively clean" feel. I'm also cleaning things that I haven't cleaned in recent (or distant!) memory. I'm looking at you, freshly vacuumed couch!
- This schedule is just right for me -- I can "do" three things per day (and usually only 1 or 2 of those are even remotely difficult/taxing). Some days are crazy and I miss something. I can either catch up the next day, or decide that it's not important that week. Those three days that are X'ed out? Stomach virus trumps cleaning! No big deal, because those tasks were done recently and one week isn't going to make a huge difference. Also, five days a week is just right. If I want to do a little catch-up on the weekend, I can, but otherwise I get a few days off. Plus, planning for the entire month allows me to include tasks that only need to be done every few weeks and would otherwise be at the mercy of my less-than-perfect memory.
- It's not too specific. I needed some guidelines to make sure tasks were getting done (because they weren't before!), but in the past my systems have always been too rigid and "perfect." This plan is flexible! Yes, I like to tick every box and I make an effort to do so, but the one-month structure helps me evaluate whether a missed task is really that important. Sometimes I may need to do an extra vacuuming, sometimes I may miss cleaning the doorknobs, and chances are my kitchen floor will need more than one mopping per week -- there's just the right give-and-take so that I can use common sense but still have a sense of order.
- I'm noticing more. Part of the reason house cleaning is difficult for me is that I'm a big-picture person. Little details like dusty shelves or spattered cabinets don't usually grab my attention. So while my Thursday "Kitchen" cleaning is vague, it's a time set aside to notice my kitchen. Some weeks that's just shining the stainless steel appliances! But I've also found myself cleaning and detailing things that would normally escape my attention (or just be ignored because there were bigger/more essential tasks at hand, such as floors that haven't been vacuumed in several weeks...). For instance, cleaning doorknobs leads me to notice the dirty kid fingerprints on many of our doors and door frames. Or the remnant of sticker that's been on our back door since we moved in, which I finally noticed (because I was cleaning the glass in our storm, sliding, and entry doors) and scraped off with a razor in about 10 seconds. So easy, but something that would have probably gone unnoticed for another year... or more... if I hadn't been cleaning that window.
- I know my house better. Even though we've lived here for over a year, I feel like I'm just getting to know my house! For instance, I clean bathrooms weekly, but at this point in our lives our walk-in master shower and the kids' bathtub don't get that dirty. So I'm alternating weeks to clean them! That may change as our children get bigger and (presumably) dirtier, but for now I'm not going to clean something that isn't dirty. Toilets, sinks, mirrors, and floors, on the other hand, do require weekly maintenance around here.
- I'm not rushed when guests come over. We had dinner guests recently, and instead of the usual fluster of "Must clean all the things!", the prep was quite calm and collected. A quick wipe in the guest bath (I keep baby wipes on hand there for touch-ups), and the usual day's tasks, and all that was left was kids' toys -- which they cleaned up. *wink* This alone is a huge motivator for me! I'm hoping that this will improve even more as we implement some systems to help control clutter around our home.
I've got my February schedule ready to go, and it already has a few check marks! I have always felt defeated in this area, so this progress is quite encouraging. I'm realizing that finding a system that works for me is important for long-term success. If it's too hard, too rigid, too flexible, too whatever, it's going to be hard to sustain. And "hard to sustain" for me equates to "NOT sustained." I am hoping that I can continue to grow in this area (there were a few things overlooked in January that I'd like to do better on in February).
I'm getting the littles involved, too! They've been responsible for dusting chair rails, baseboard radiators, and window sills for a while, but now they do it every Monday (dusting day!). Soon they'll be helping with other tasks, too. I'd like to help them form good habits now. I'm hoping the schedule will help after this baby comes, too -- not only should the house be relatively clean beforehand, but it will also be a way for my husband to know what needs to be done. I'm sure we'll be checking fewer boxes for a few weeks, but we'll be able to see at a glance which tasks are most important to keep the household in good order.
Of course, every person is unique and this system may only work for some (or maybe just me?!), but if you'd like your own cleaning schedule, you can find the printable here (including a blank copy, if you'd like to personalize your tasks!).