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Let’s talk house cleaning! Looking back through my posts, I see that I don’t write about homemaking that often. In the Catholic Mom Challenge, we talk about the importance of being a homemaker. It’s a lost art really. Most of us have no idea how to be homemakers. I know I certainly didn’t when I got married.
It’s important to create a peaceful environment at home. You want your house to be a sanctuary for your family so they can leave the broken and chaotic world and feel safe at home. That doesn’t you have a house that looks like a Pottery Barn catalog or a home where everything is always put away. After all, we live here and I have four kids now!
When I first became a stay-at-home mom, I found myself swinging from trying to implement an ultra complex cleaning system to staring at my clutter while sitting in the living room. Neither of these worked and I was driving myself crazy. As I look back, I’m not sure my kids or my husband really noticed or cared.
You have to be honest with yourself, what is truly important to you and what kind of environment does your family need?
Lately, I don’t find that much stress about keeping my home tidy and I was trying to figure out why since it used to cause me great anxiety. Here’s what I think the difference is:
- Paralysis Analysis – I used to want the perfect system. I wanted something comprehensive so I could see the whole picture and then tackle tasks systematically. But I would spend so much time thinking about a system, reading about systems, or writing a system down that I would burn myself out before cleaning anything!
Now I have no system. The only tenants I try to follow are laundry M/W/F and I do it completely from wash to put away, and clean bathrooms on Thursday or Friday. Pretty weak system but hey, I do it!
- Just Do It – The big difference between have one or two children and having four is that you don’t have a lot of time to sit around thinking about what needs to get done, you just do it. I have two rounds of cleaning per day, one before naps and one before or after dinner depending on our evening activities.
The kids know this and my husband knows this. Whoever is home, pauses what they’re doing and we all clean for maybe 15-30 minutes. It really isn’t long at all and you can get a lot done in that time. We usually do laundry, dishes, tidying up rooms, sweeping or bathrooms.
I simply ask myself, “What needs to be done right now?” I do that thing and then I ask myself again.
On Saturdays we spend 1-2 hours doing bigger cleaning projects like mopping all the floors, backyard stuff, or special projects.
- It’s Mostly About You – This may be different in different homes but I have found that I care the most about how the house looks. My husband wants a clean area to make breakfast in the morning clean clothes… that’s it! All the rest of it, the standards for what means the house is clean, is all in my own head. This picture also changes whether I’m having friends over or hosting an event.
No matter what’s going on though, I’ve realized there is no “right” way to live. Once I accepted that, I started to notice what made me happier at home. I found that I didn’t care much about sweeping or vacuuming but I do really value clear surfaces. I don’t like clutter.
Now I focus on tidying more than deep cleaning. It takes less time and I’m happier at home. I’m pleased when I look around and things are put in their place. I don’t mind whatever is on the floor!
Have a conversation with your family about what’s important to them, I mean really important. Try to tackle these things daily or every few days. Leave the rest on a weekly or bi-weekly rotation.
- Less Is More – My new book about minimalism is coming out soon and it’s all about how much more peace we have when we own less stuff. The more I purge from my home, the easier it is for me and the kids to take care of our spaces. We’re all a lot more calm too. Just looking at less stuff makes you happier.
Simply owning less is a large key to successful homemaking. Chances are, you don’t need or use at least 20% or your stuff. And while I love a good “whole house purge,” I rarely have time for that. Instead, I purge a little bit every week. I look around and constantly ask myself, how can I simplify this space and what can I get rid of?
This way it’s never very overwhelming or emotional. These baby steps feel way more manageable.
I know there are lots of books, websites, and programs out there that outline home cleaning systems. That may be exactly what you need. But I want to challenge you. Perhaps what you need is to just schedule quick blocks of cleaning and time and just get to it. I bet you know what needs to be done and you can knock out a great deal in 30 minutes twice per day.
Pop over to my Facebook page and share your home cleaning successes and challenges!