Who doesn’t love a clean house, right? When I was still living with my parents, I spring cleaned my room bi-annually, I would seek out admirers in the house and show them each step of the way of what I had accomplished – a wiped down cupboard with clothes neatly stacked; an organised craft cupboard; a dusted bookshelf. Now, no one admires the clean house except me. But, man, do I admire it! I get a real kick out of standing in the doorway to a room free of dust with all the clothes packed away, bracelets (or “pretties” as my daughter calls them) back in the drawer, a carpet freshly vacuumed and crisp, clean linen on a newly made bed. Even as I’m describing this, I know there is at least
someone else out there drooling over the idea! Because I would! Cleanliness is like a drug for me. It gives me a high! I love sinking into bed at the end of the day, exhausted, but feeling like I’m on Cloud 9 because I’m not going to have to fold clothes or nappies or have my cup of tea looking at a couch full of clutter.
As I’ve said in my previous post A South African Standard, it’s common place to have someone to clean your house at least once a week if not more in South Africa. Yeah, well, not me. I am it in my house! This is actual footage of me cleaning my house! (Okay, not really but it really is like this and I really do go from one thing to the next and I am that mom who washes her kid when she’s dirty even if it’s just her hands….so relate!)
I remember thinking that I could honestly and easily get through the house work once a week no problem. That wasn’t taking the following into account:
– I would need to make an income somehow so I bake and that takes up A LOT of time!
– I would have to get my act together to make supper earlier
– I would actually try and do the dishes every day
– I wouldn’t be able to get up and read my Bible before she wakes up because I refuse to get
up at 4 AM!!! She is awake at 5! So now her first nap of the day is spent reading and praying.
Trying to do the above basically means I can kiss house work goodbye. I’ve had to lower my standards. A lot! I was repulsed that my floor hadn’t been mopped for two weeks. Then it turned into a month. Then I gave up and just told my friends not to let their babies crawl around on the floor in white vests. They didn’t take me seriously. My floor was mopped with a white vest that was probably never white again.
But, thank the Lord, I have figured out a way to do the house work that keeps my house reasonably respectable and me mostly sane.
And, just as a side note, I’m climbing up on one of my many soapboxes to tell you that it can’t wait! I cannot focus or relax if my house is chaos. I sit there thinking about what I should be doing, could be doing, want to be doing instead of enjoying time with my family and friends. It can wait a little while. But soon, I become stressed and irritable and frustrated if I can’t get to it because…guess what…no one else is going to do it. And we’re just going to find ourselves making dinner on the kitchen floor and eating out of a roasting pan because it’s the only clean dish in the house. Or worse, wearing yesterday’s underwear and peanut butter covered pants because I haven’t folded the clean clothes, let alone washed the dirty ones.
And, as I read in a post by Christine Keys 5 Better Things to Say Instead of “The Dishes Can Wait.” (which I found extremely encouraging in that I wasn’t the only person out there who couldn’t just “Leave the dishes and spend time with my kids because the years will go so fast.”) a happy mom means a happy child and a happy family. If I lose it because I feel like I’m drowning, I make everyone else grouchy. And I read once that a wife/mom sets the tone for the rest of the household. I tend to agree. I’m not saying that I shouldn’t lower my standards and make
some compromises. But, I don’t want to live in a mess that becomes insurmountable…literally!
So I’ve decided to make a list of things that I’ve found make my life SO much easier!
1. Have a diary or a booklet to brain dump and write down a To-Do-List
I don’t have a diary but I did find this booklet amongst my stationery collection. It has perforated pages that I can neatly get rid of when I’m done. When I sit down to read my Bible each day, my brain goes wild! I have an hour of forced down time and I often get lost in my mind thinking about all the things I need to do, people I need to get in touch with or contact and things I’d like to do when my daughter is in bed. Before I had said booklet, I used to type it up on my phone, tap out some Whatsapp messages and then, inevitably get distracted. So now, as I think about things, I write them down so I can go back to focusing on what should be my priority. Then it doesn’t swirl around in my head while I try and read. So I brain dump. I can organise things into days and then I can see what I’d like to achieve in the day. And, if I remember, I try to dedicate that list to the Lord and pray for grace and mercy should I not achieve it. Because if I don’t have that grace and mercy, the dragon emerges.
2. Divide and Conquer
In the beginning, I would start the week with whatever chore looked like it needed doing the most urgently. As I decided to dust downstairs, I picked up an item of clothing, walked back upstairs to put it away and then started tidying the bedroom. I would then pick up a dirty item of clothing, leave the bedroom semi-tidy and decide to put on a wash. By the end of the day, nothing was much tidier than it had started out and I felt frustrated that I had spent the whole day cleaning and had nothing to show for it. I broke up the housework into manageable chunks and decided that once that chunk was done for the day, I’d stop and not put any pressure on myself to carry on. Here’s my plan.
Monday – Tidy the house. Pick up, put away and do a general tidy. (1-2 hours)
Tuesday – Bathrooms. Dust corners, wipe towel racks and clean toilet, sink, shower and
bath. (30 – 40 mins)
Wednesday –Dust downstairs. Dust corners and furniture. Wipe and polish surfaces. (30 mins)
Thursday – Vacuum downstairs. I’ve found that vacuuming our polished concrete floor is
much more effective than sweeping. It may take a bit longer but I not
spreading the dust nearly as much. (20 – 30 mins)
*BONUS = My husband has offered to do the mopping when he gets home before he sits down to study! So he mops downstairs and the bathrooms.
Friday – Dust and vacuum upstairs. Dust corners and furniture. Wipe and polish surfaces. Vacuum.
If things go according to plan, my house should get a thorough clean each week. However, I have a slight problem. I found that I was getting stressed because, in between baking and being a mom and trying to be a blogger, I just wasn’t getting through it and it would overlap into the next week until it all just became a mess. So now I’ve decided that each week I’ll do the bathrooms. And I’ll alternate downstairs and upstairs so they are cleaned bi-weekly. I’ll
still tidy the house each week. And I’ll sweep the kitchen and under the high chair if it’s not the week to clean downstairs. So I’ve really lowered my standards. But now I feel like I’ve found a happy medium. And if I have time for more in a day or a week because my daughter’s had a longer nap or she’s content to potter around while I clean, I use it!
Here’s a free Weekly Cleaning Schedule template just for you!
3. Wash the dishes every day! (I am used to someone washing up after me!)
I have a very kind and very good mentor who used to often wash my dishes when she came for tea. I was mortified the first few times and physically tried to stop her. Then there were days I wished she would visit! One day, she challenged me. She told me that it was a lot more manageable to make a portion of time each day to wash up. We had someone helping clean the house before our daughter was born and (much to my disgust now) I would only wash what we needed and leave the rest for her. Or until it flowed over onto most kitchen counters and we couldn’t find a space to chop vegetables! It is a pain to wash each day because it takes up a good hour that I could use to do something else. And that hour is very, very precious. But I’ve done it for a few months now and can’t believe I lived any differently before! It makes it a lot more manageable! And, I treat myself on weekends and use the
dishwasher! I asked my husband once what he cares about being clean in the house. His answer was basically a clean kitchen as our current front door opens onto the dirty dish counter (what a motivator!) – washed dishes and wiped counter surfaces. I would like to think this change has made his day!
4. Plan meals
This is only something I’ve done relatively recently but I’ve found that it gives me peace of mind and also gives me an indication of how long I need to start preparing beforehand. I don’t always plan the whole week in advance but it helps to even be a day in advance. I find it amusing that, before we had a child, I would walk in the door around 4PM, waste some time on Facebook and then wander downstairs around 6PM open the freezer(!!!) and only then defrost something! Now I start dinner at 5PM latest and everything is already defrosted. I feel so much more at ease knowing that I can go downstairs and start without having to scrounge through the fridge and freezer and try to think up something to make. That’s actually the worst part. I once asked my husband to make dinner on a particular night and he asked what he should make. I responded indignantly with
“That’s the reason I asked you to make it! That’s the worst part! I don’t want to think
5. Look at the weather
I am one of those people who, like the people who won’t get dressed without looking at their horoscope, won’t get dressed without checking the weather. If it’s going to be a cold day, I have to psyche myself up to undress out of my warm pyjamas. So I do a lot of other things until I can’t avoid it anymore! I now don’t just check the weather to guide me in my clothes selection. I also check the weather so I can decide on a washing day. I used to just do the washing at random when I had time but, especially in winter and when one is washing cloth nappies, one cannot be impulsive! I needed to have a washing day to ensure that we had dry clothes and nappies for the week. I’ve found this helpful as well when planning my week because it will allow me more time on days when the weather is horrible to do something else!
½. Use time before breakfast
This one may not be relevant to everyone which is why I’m calling it point number ½. I only have one child at the moment. I don’t have anywhere to be once my husband leaves for work. And my daughter is often awake before I am around 5AM. So I find that I have an hour and a half before I have to get everyone fed and dressed to either mess around and drink tea and laze around in bed or I can put that time to better use and do something that requires minimal physical energy but just crosses off something later in my day. I’ve found it helpful to do the ironing (if there’s only a few items) or fold washing or nappies on the bed while my daughter plays on the bedroom floor. This past week, I dusted upstairs and did a quick tidy up while she pottered around. It made me feel so much more ready for the day than if I sat in bed and was inevitably coerced to get up anyway to open the crayons or to hoist my daughter up onto the bed to read books. I may as well use the time to do something useful!
Look, things may change when Baby Number 2 arrives but, as it stands, these things that keep me sane! And I find it a bit easier to cope when things aren’t clean or don’t always go my way because I still have a plan for tomorrow. And, on days where things just suck and don’t work out, I do have to give myself a pep talk and tell myself it’s okay (even if I don’t feel like it is). And, somehow, it is okay.
If you have any more useful tips to share that make you even more sane than I am, be a good person and help another baby brain woman out!Tags: clean house, cleaning, cooking, dirty house, homemaking, house cleanig tips, house cleaning hacks, housework, stay-at-home-mom, tidy, tidying, weather