Housework can be boring and repetitive but the real problem with housework is it never ends. I'm not kidding. You can have all the laundry done only to find more piling up in the hamper the very same day. I know many set aside a day for certain chores and at one time I was rather rigid in my scheduling of the chores because I had to be in order to maintain sanity in our household. I even religiously followed FlyLady for a few years. A few years ago, I decided to forgo my planned career and stay at home as a result of an injury. With that came a paradigm shift in my way of thinking about household activities. The 'clean the bathrooms' every Monday, Wednesday and Friday routine clearly wasn't going to work. I certainly did not want to spent 8 hours of my Saturdays cleaning either so I went onto plan B - clean as you go.
A good portion of housework involves dealing with clutter. It's not that the house is dirty it is messy due to clutter. The rules are: never leave a room empty handed and always leave a room better than you found it. I kept the 27 Fling Boogie, 15 Minute Rescue, and shiny sink from FlyLady because quite frankly both work well for me. We live in a bi-level house so we have an upper level, ground level (garage and entrance) and a lower level. Why they call it a bi-level is beyond me because technically it is three levels but I don't think the ground level is considered living space. I do a lot of activities that tend to create a bit of chaos especially home canning which involves moving equipment and ingredients from the lower level to the upper level then putting it all away along with whatever food was canned. So, I am up and down those stairs several times in any given day. Here's a few ways I keep our home neat and tidy without being a slave to housework:
- one in one out rule - Clutter can be a huge problem so we developed the one in one out rule. What this means if an item comes into the house then an item must leave. For example, if I buy a towel it is to replace a towel that is worn out.
- paper clutter - Honestly, I am the queen of paper clutter. I'm not kidding! I still have all my notes from university, hang on to grocery receipts and pretty much anything paper encouraged by the fact that one of my hobbies is genealogy so you never know when you will need that piece of paper. I have decided that enough is enough. I went to digital for my day planner, to-do lists, and shopping lists so no more bits of paper floating around the house. If I want to spurge on the rare magazine, I by an electronic version. I am in the process of digitizing important papers but keeping only the ones we absolutely have to. Essentially, what we have done is stopped the flow of paper clutter into our home which makes it a lot easier to maintain not having to deal with paper clutter.
- never leave a room empty handed - We have a large house which means I spend a fair amount of time each day moving from room to room. We have developed the rule to never leave a room empty handed. Surprisingly a lot of 'stuff' gets moved around and put away using this method. For example, I get up in the morning and grab my bedside water bottle along with any dirty clothes. The water bottle gets dropped off in the kitchen where I add any dirty t-towels to the dirty clothes then make my way to the laundry where I leave the dirty clothes and bring any air dried clothes back up to our bedroom and so it repeats. This method is a sure fire way of ensuring nothing piles up anywhere.
- 15 Minute Rescue - This method is ideal for quick kitchen and family room clean-ups like folding afghans and clearing coffee tables. I can easily fold a hamper of clothes in 15 minutes or put a pot of homemade soup on. The variations are endless but it is really surprising how much you can actually get done in only 15 minutes!
- the commercial break - At one time, I watched television during the day more for noise but occasionally to watch a program. During the commercial breaks, I would toss a load of laundry in or fill the dishwasher or empty it. You get the idea. They were quick to do tasks that often get pushed to the back burner then all these quick tasks pile up resulting in hours of housework. I still do this, taking a short break from whatever I'm doing just to tidy a bit.
- 27 Fling Boogie - The 27 Fling Boogie is a left-over from my FlyLady days but it works well for me. I use the method at least once a week. It's simple. Grab a bag then go though you house and collect 27 things you don't need as quickly as possible. Those items can be donated, put into the recycle bin or trashed but as long as they are out of your house you have met the goal.
- the shiny sink - FlyLady stresses to always have a shiny sink. It you do nothing else that day your kitchen sink should be scrubbed an polished. The premise behind this task is it serves as a motivation to do another household task. I took this idea a bit further because every room should have a 'shiny sink' in principle that serves as an incentive to keep things neat and tidy.
- leave a room better than you found it - This goes hand in hand with never leaving a room empty handed but it is a bit different. I do my morning routine followed by a quick wipe down of the bathroom sinks, faucets and mirror. It takes only a couple of minutes but saves a ton of time later. I keep spray bottles of rubbing alcohol and homemade cleaners in the bathrooms and kitchen so all I have to do is grab, spray and wipe. In all of less than 5 minutes everything in that room is sparkly clean.
- put things away as you go - We do a lot of cooking and home food preservation. I am adamant about putting ingredients away as they are used so at the end of the cooking session there is no big clean-up. This leaves very little in the way of kitchen clean-up so the kitchen is always ready to go for the next round of cooking the following day.
- cleaning baskets - I keep a basket of cleaning needs in both bathrooms, the kitchen and utility room. That way if I notice something needs cleaning I do it right then before I forget about it. This really helps to prevent having to do a larger cleaning session.