Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Start at the Bottom

I am a pretty awful housekeeper. I look on in awe of those who seemingly without effort have beautifully-kept homes with tidy children and look irrepressibly cute, if not gorgeous, themselves. I can only manage one out of three on most days, although somehow I do better for holidays or visitors (but even then the cute/gorgeous item is a lost cause).

But I'm going to post my rules for myself, because I need a place to go to help me keep on track.

1. Start at the bottom. I can get the rest of a room tidy more quickly if the floor is clear (& ideally swept, mopped, or vacuumed). It's very feng shui, I know, but I really do need to be able to walk without any sort of obstacles. And two minutes with the vacuum really makes a huge difference on how I feel when I walk into a room.

2. Clean things before they get dirty. I mopped the floor last night before it got black & so the mopping when fairly quickly. And looking down, I realized that the fridge door needed a wipe down even more than I thought it did & I had time to do it & all the other cabinet doors, too.

3. A mountain of dishes really will become a molehill if I clear the sink first. When I was growing up, there was a proper way to put the dishes in the sink to soak/get washed. But the sink had to be empty first. When I was finished, I was supposed to scrub the sink out with Comet. Due to many moves & several houses without double-side sinks, I've lost that habit. But when I talk myself into getting the sink clean first, the dishes only take half the time to wash.

4. More dishes: wash the weird/seldom-used items first. I usually leave these for last, but then they languish on my counters for days, even weeks, while I spend lots of time washing the items that get used at every meal.

5. Yet more dishes: wash the big things (pots & pans) next.

6. Laundry doesn't back log as badly if I wash the items that dry the fastest first. And then put the items that dry the fastest on the radiators & the items that dry more slowly on the drying rack or line.

7. Laundry also doesn't seem as overwhelming if I put the dirty clothes in the basement by the washer. When I pull a clean load out, I don't have to run upstair to get the next load -- it's already there.

8. (This is a new realization as of today.) Newspapers are great for cleaning windows, shining mirrors, & making steel appliances (like our oven) sparkle. Use the throw-around newspaper on the day it arrives. Five minutes in the living room (lounge), another five in the kitchen. Windows, mirrors, & stove shiny. I can do this. . .and maybe get the kids to help. (Lesley, do you remember how Cami would beg to wash windows because she could use a spray bottle & be on the ladder?)

So, there's my rules for myself. Nothing earth shattering. I just needed to write it down to make it more real to myself. If you've read all this, you are either really bored or else a true friend.


Tricia said...

Awww, I'm a true friend! Yay! :)

Sarah said...

Do you know about I don't always follow it, but I love it. There are certain rules I try to follow that not only keep my house cleaner, but I think just make it easier to live in. Like fill the dishwasher as we go, start it when ready, and empty it right when it is clean. Flylady has some good tips that are similar to your rules, so check it out. Things that you do every day that don't take long and then things just don't get as dirty. I like it when I follow it, but sometimes don't seem to...

There are also sections on her page for different things, like "FLYing with kids": getting your kids involved in the cleaning.

Good luck!

Mary Beth said...

I must be a true friend too, because I found that far from boring.

I love it.

I need to make myself a similar list. I always try to designate a different day of the week for laundry, for vacuuming, for bathrooms, for grocery shopping, etc. but I can't ever seem to follow it. I can't decide if that's a better way to go and have it all planned out and structured, or just plan in 1 hour a day to get something (anything) done beyond the day to day stuff...

Chrislynn said...

I have been working on this myself lately, I didn't write it down-although that is an excellent idea-I just worked REALLY hard at keeping things tidy and making it a habit. Things are going well in our house. One day big Richie said to me "I can't believe how clean you have been keeping the house, it is unprecedented." I tried not to take offense at the unprecedented part, because it was true. I am a much nicer mom when I am not surrounded with clutter and chaos.

Sacto Cat Woman said...

I was never much of a housekeeper, even with a dishwasher and a clothes dryer to help me. You are far more organized with your method for housekeeping.

A wise woman at our church -- when I was bemoaning my lack of skill or enthusiasm for cleaning -- told me that many of the disturbed children she worked with came from perfect houses (not homes). Gussie made me feel so much better. Have you noticed how often perfect women seem to have very disturbed children?

Ellen Fehr said...

Hi, Starr~
Since some of your difficulties over housekeeping can easily be laid at my doorstep, I marvel at your great list of ideas.
I still retain my lack of motivation to clean things until they are really dirty [I was just telling Dawn about that little quirk a couple of days ago], I applaud your ability to notice how your own mood is affected by your surroundings--and do something about it.
BTW, Sarah, Starr knows about flylady--she tried unsuccessfully many years ago to get me to try some of those methods--it only took a couple of years before I finally did clean my sink, but I do that periodically, and it does make a difference:)
Anyway, Starr, love you and keep up the great work, especially with my dear grandkids!

Jen said...

I have serious house work issues also. And you will never find me in anything besides yoga pant- unless at a church function. But I have other things I stay on top of, like I wash my hair at least every three days!

Kristin said...

I second the FLYlady thing - it totally changed my life. Of course, my life is back to normal now, but if I did what I should, I'd be really organized with less effort than you think.
I can read posts like these all day long.