In a matter of weeks, I went from feeling I could never possibly get caught up on all my housework - that my house would never be totally clean and I just needed to embrace that fact while I have children living in the house - to feeling I don't have enough housework to do. And that, believe it or not, has led to boredom.*
How on earth did I come to this point? A house sale. It took months to weed through our belongings, send tons of boxes to a local charity thrift store, and pack up most of the other things we wanted to keep. But by the time our house went on the market, we had only essentials laying around: Our beds, the kitchen table and chairs, just enough kitchenware to get by, the homeschool materials we'd need in the next few months, and a handful of toys for the kids. I'd scrubbed the house literally from top to bottom. It sparkled.
And then I began a simple, daily cleaning routine. (You can read the details of the routine here.) After breakfast, every single morning, I made sure I did a few basic tasks, like making the beds and taking out the trash. Zip, zip, zip! and in 10 to 15 minutes, the house was spotless again. I actually began enjoying my cleaning routine - and that was certainly a first.
Now that our house sale is pending (for the second time), I've relaxed the routine a bit, but our house is still quite clean. And it takes so little time to maintain it! Who knew?
So here's what I think is the secret to my easy cleaning routine:
1. Lack of clutter. Our house is pretty much empty, which makes clean up a breeze! Obviously, under normal circumstances we'll have more things in our house - but now that I've experienced how much stuff can inhibit a tidy house, you can bet I'll be more selective about bringing things into our new house.
2. Lack of toys. Even if my 7 year old goes into his room and gets all his toys out, it isn't a huge deal to have him pick up. So once we move, I have a choice. I can start rotating toys (allowing out only, say, a box at a time and putting the rest in storage) or I can simply get rid of most of the toys.
3. Cleaning every day but the Sabbath. When it only takes 10 minutes, though, this is no big deal! And I love the almost instant gratification of having a tidy house each morning.
4. See a mess? Clean it! When the house is already clean, I'm more likely to clean as I go. Who wants a tidy house...but a sink full of dishes? Not me.
The Trick to Getting There
Just a few days ago, a friend of mine mentioned that her elderly father-in-law (who lives when her) disapproves of her messy housekeeping. She discounted this as a 1950s attitude and implied that a wife and mom who works outside of the home can't ever have a truly tidy house.
It's true I don't work outside the home, but I do think that if my friend could just get rid of a lot of stuff, even she would find housekeeping easier. (15 minutes a day, friends!) The trick, of course, is to find time and energy to purge.
I've tried to purge many times, only to become discouraged because while I was tidying one area of the house, another part became a bigger mess, due to other family members. My best advice is just to keep at it. Be ruthless. Give yourself a deadline to meet.
Because it's truly amazing how much more peaceful your home will be when it's de-cluttered and finally, really clean.
* Normally, I would fill my spare time with gardening, extra homeschool projects, sewing or needlework, and a million other things. But right now, I have to leave the garden as is for the buyers, and all my "toys" (like the sewing machine - and even my books) are packed. I guess I need to write more blog posts!