As you may already know, I don’t like to clean. I mean, I REALLY don’t like to clean. When I was a teen and young adult, my room was ALWAYS a mess. When I got married, right out of college, I knew that I could not continue in that fashion. I knew I needed a house cleaning schedule, but I had no clue how to make one or put it into practice. So in typical Ann fashion, I began to read about it.
First I got hooked on Don Aslett. He has written several wonderful books on cleaning, including Is There Life After Housework, which was the first of his that I read. I learned a lot from him, mostly about how to clean smart. Like using a dry cloth instead of a wet one — because a wet cloth can’t soak up and hold onto as much dirt as a dry cloth will. And letting cleaner do its job by leaving it to sit for a moment before wiping it off. I was all fired up to keep the house clean, and I bought special cleaning supplies… and never even finished my first batch of them.
My next cleaning kick was when a friend introduced me to the Sidetracked Home Executives. They recommend a system using index cards. Each cleaning job gets written on an index card and filed under daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly. You complete the jobs required for the day and then put those cards at the back of their appropriate section in the box. The next day you have a new set of cards to do. I had a lot of fun setting up my index card file; I even had fun doing the cleaning jobs and moving my cards around in the box — for about a month.
Another friend loaned me her copy of Messie No More, by Sandra Felton. This book talks about the difference between “messies” and “cleanies,” saying that messies are often actually perfectionists, and so cleaning becomes a huge chore because they are trying to do it so thoroughly and well. So they avoid it, instead. This rang true to me. “Hi, my name is Ann, and I’m a messie.”
I’ve also read More Hours in My Day and other books by Emilie Barnes; Disciplines of the Home, by Anne Ortlund; Confessions of an Organized Homemaker, by Deniece Schofield — and other books about cleaning and organizing. Each of them helped me get motivated to keep a house cleaning schedule for a little while, but eventually I always let it slide.
I have lost count of all the times I have listed cleaning jobs, decided how often they should be done, and set myself a schedule by which to do them. I love that part of it. It’s the actual implementing of the schedule that seems to be difficult for me… Am I the only person in the whole world who is like this?
I have one friend who cleans every Monday and Tuesday without fail. I really admire her for that. And her house does look wonderful, ALL THE TIME. There is part of me that wants that.
Then there is the other part of me that agrees with the sentiment “A clean house is a sign of a wasted life.” There are SO MANY other things I’d rather do than clean. To be fair, though, none of them are really any more valuable than cleaning would be.
Because there IS value in cleaning, when we see it as an act of love for those who live with us. When we see it as making a home for those we cherish. I do understand that, really I do. I do want to keep my house clean and comfortable for my family. I want people who come into it to feel comfy, as well.
And it’s not like I never clean. I am just only motivated to do it when I see a need. Which is usually right before someone is coming over… :-) No, it’s not really THAT bad. The house does stay fairly well picked up (especially since I decluttered), and the kitchen is cleaned up (at least the counters and stovetop) after most meals, and the bathrooms get a spit and polish pretty regularly.
And so here’s what I ask myself:
Do I really need a house cleaning schedule??
I know this is scary stuff, y’all. This really goes against the grain of Pinterest-dom, doesn’t it? We have all been programmed to think that the ideal housewife has a cleaning routine and implements it — and LOVES doing it. Well, I’m sorry, but that’s just not me.
What is SO WRONG with NOT having a cleaning schedule? Why is that such a horrible way to live life? Why do I need to feel guilty because I don’t have one? I, for one, am tired of living with that weight.
I am in no way slamming those of you who enjoy cleaning with a schedule and do a good job at it. I just don’t happen to share your vision. And I think there are many women out there like me.
What if we all decided it was OK to clean more spontaneously? Like, when we see something is dirty, or when we actually feel like cleaning — or yes, when someone is coming over and we prefer to spend some intense cleaning time then, instead of every. stinkin’. week. Would the world end?
What if we accepted that this is just the way we roll? And that we probably work better doing it the way we are programmed than if we try to fit into someone else’s mold? That the schedule itself, or the perfectionism inherent in it, might be what is hampering us from actually doing the work?
Now, I am not advocating being a slob. I am not supporting not ever cleaning at all, or cleaning so little that your family is uncomfortable. I’m just sayin’ that we don’t necessarily have to do it on a schedule. We can do it more as an ebb and flow, adapting to the needs of the moment/ day/ week/ season. And that’s OK.
One way to do this is with my method of doing five- and ten-minute jobs. I don’t see why all cleaning can’t be handled that way. I don’t have to clean ALL the windows at one time, just one or two. And if the others aren’t noticeably dirty, why worry about them at all?
Shall we rebel against the house cleaning schedule status quo? “Knock off the shackles of yesterday, shoulder to shoulder, into the fray!” (That’s a song quote from Mary Poppins, in case you didn’t recognize it.) Who’s with me?? :-)
P.S. I actually DO organize things, y’all. I just do it in my own way — the EASY way, lol. I even wrote a 31-day series about it: 31 Days of Practical Organizing Tips for a Homeschool Mom’s Life. Check it out — you might find some tips to help your situation, even without making a cleaning schedule! :-)