Here’s the thing: I don’t do spring cleaning.
At least two of my friends work hard for several weeks in March and April, deep cleaning all cupboards and closets and light fixtures and window blinds – all those tasks that are difficult to fit in regularly. And I’m impressed by those gals… but I’m just not feelin’ it. I don’t want to give up several weeks to CLEAN. I hate cleaning almost as much as I hate cooking.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t clean at all; I just try to find ways to make it simpler and easier and less life-consuming. So this series about cleaning is not going to focus on your typical “spring cleaning”; instead, I’m just going to share some of the ways I deal with cleaning in general. So these are not really “Spring Cleaning Tips,” in the sense of Tips on Spring Cleaning; rather, they’re more like Cleaning Tips… in Spring. :-)
For the next few weeks we’ll be discussing things like laundry, and cleaning formulas and routines, and decluttering, but today I want to focus on keeping on top of cleaning tasks by making the most of those little bits of time that occur throughout the day. My husband does this very well. I’m, um, still working on it.
Here is an actual recent conversation in our home (names may or may not have not been changed to protect the innocent):
(Hubby comes into bedroom and starts changing into work clothes.)
Me: What are you gonna do?
Hubby: Split some wood.
Me: When did you want us to leave on that errand, again? In an hour, right? (thinking to myself that that’s not enough time to split wood — by the time you change into work clothes, and then go outside, then you have to practically come right back in, so you have time to change your clothes back again and get cleaned up and ready to go…)
Hubby: Yea, let me know when it’s been half an hour.
Me: (skeptically) okay…
In half an hour I went and told him time was up, and he came in and changed again and got cleaned up and was ready to go when I was. The difference between us was that I had done basically nothing productive during that time, thinking that I wouldn’t have time enough to do anything; and he had gone out and split what turned out to be a fair amount of wood!!
I realized for about the gazillionth time how often I use the excuse that there was “not enough time” to do this or that. And you know what? Most of the time that is NOT valid. Most of the time it’s just my own misconception about how long a particular job will take. Or I’m waiting for the perfect open three-hour slot in which to even begin the job, because I think the only way to do it is all in one session. (And as a homeschool mom, those perfect three-hour time slots occur
like never VERY rarely…) The end result is that I tend to be way less productive than my husband. He takes five- and ten-minute increments and USES them. I often view that kind of time slot as not worth much in the getting anything done department.
But there are A LOT of those five- and ten-minute slots in a given day, when I know I only have a short amount time before I need to be doing something else… and when I USE them, instead of disregarding them or counting them as worthless, I can really get some stuff done.
So I’ve compiled two lists, one list of five-minute jobs and one of ten-minute jobs.
Some of the things on these lists are easy to complete in a short amount of time. Others, though, are things I tend not to get to, because I mistakenly see them as not worth starting if I can’t finish the whole thing. But the job itself, if done all in one session, is draining and tiresome and a major pain—which means I put it off and don’t really EVER get it done. If I take the eating-an-elephant approach, though, and do the job in five-minute increments, eventually I will get it done — with basically no strain at all.
- sweep the kitchen
- empty the dishwasher
- clean a window (this is an example of changing the thinking that I need to do ALL the windows at once—one at a time still gets the job done eventually!)
- start or switch a load of laundry
- deal with the mail
- wipe down an appliance
- straighten up a room
- make a bed
- scrub a toilet
- clean under sofa cushions
- start a pot of beans
- start a pot of rice
- fill the dishwasher
- vacuum a room
- clean a bathroom sink
- dust a room
- declutter/organize/wipe a drawer
- declutter/organize/wipe a cabinet
- clean a sliding glass door
- strip and remake a bed
- start a simple crockpot recipe
- sew on a button
- make a salad
- clean a light fixture
- wipe down baseboards in one room
Obviously these lists are not exhaustive; I’m just trying to get the thinking juices flowing. I’m sure y’all can think of many more things to add. (And please do, in the comments!) Because the idea is to keep the lists handy, so that when a small stretch of time presents itself, one can pick something to do. Thus keeping on top of daily tasks better, working gradually on larger ones, and having more time later for doing what we’d rather be doing than cleaning (which for me is just about anything…).
You can see from the lists that it’s possible to break down many typical “spring cleaning” chores into five- or ten-minute increments and complete them over time throughout the year. Thus doing away altogether with the guilt of not doing spring cleaning, lol! Which is just fine with me!! Can I get an “amen”? :-)