There are piles of laundry to be washed and ironed, copious dishes to be cleaned and the constant cycle of the attack of the dust bunnies everywhere - they must be mutating! This combined with the fact that I home school makes me a very sulky, feel-sorry-for-myself-mom fairly often. I constantly feel irritated with the state of things and wish I had a fairy godmother who would visit at least once a day (preferably three or four times) and clean up the mess, wash the clothes and iron.
So what to do? So I needed to remind myself of the things that make housework something I can do with a good attitude and sometimes enjoy. Here are a few things that work for me.
1. Audio Books
I find that if I am distracted and my mind is somewhere else, housekeeping becomes a pleasure, in fact I could listen to audio books all day like this. Sean always says he can see which type of book I am busy with. If I am reading a book, the house is a mess - but if I am listening to audio books, the house is spotless. And of course if you are working with your children it will need to be something that you can both listen to.
2. Clean in the same area with your children
I often find my biggest frustration is supervising the children. I give them different tasks to do and then let them get on with it - the result: playing and messing about and just not finishing things as quickly. However if I put them all in the same area and we all do our chores together, we get things done much quicker with less supervision because I am around them all the time. Also if you are listening to an audio book, no one wants to miss out. They also seem to stay motivated for longer with team effort.
3. Do things in small bursts of energy
Though we clean together every morning and evening, I cannot spend all morning doing housework as we need to start school promptly and get going. And there is always so much more to be done. Once we do the initial clean up they get busy with school. Which I am actively involved with. However, I take a break from the children for 5 to 10 minutes at a time every hour - to load a washing machine, hang clothes on the line, sweep a corridor. I find I get it done quicker because I know that I have a time limit because I need to get back to the children. Also if my children get antsy I do the same with them - I send them off to do a 10 minute chore by themselves or with me. It helps their concentration levels, as they get a chance to stretch their legs.
4. No extra effort
I fill my sink with dishes, hot water and soap and walk away. I clean somewhere else first and then come back to wash. Once that batch is done, I load the sink again and leave it for 10 minutes again. I don't want to waste precious time and effort scrubbing at something that can be cleaned quicker and more easily by just letting things soak.
When I clean my stove, I leave a wet cloth lying on the dirty area, give it about 15 minutes and it's much easier to remove.
I never dry dishes. I love the way a kitchen looks when everything is packed away but I don't have 20 minutes in my day (x3) to dry things that can quite happily dry themselves. We do a pack away before every wash three times a day.
The list is endless but I'll keep that for a later date ( I hope - if I remember)
5. Lists of things to be done
Yes you guessed it, I am a list person. But this is an especially important strategy. The longer things are left the harder it is to clean. So I have a "To do" list for daily, weekly, bi -weekly and monthly cleaning. What I like about using these lists is that I can choose what I want to do and when I want to do it. If I have energy for washing windows today, then I do it, but if today is a hard day, I might just clean the mirrors. Even my daily chores can be done throughout the day as long as they get done. So what if I only sweep at the end of the day? The key is to keep going and to it little by little. And NEVER become a slave to your lists!
6. Keep them outside
The more my children are outside the less mess there is inside. Unless it's raining - *my children eat lunch outside (we have patio furniture but they prefer sitting all over the place and we join them when they do), * drink outside (little 4 year old and not so little 11 year olds can spill a LOT of juice on the floor), * play outside (when we are not schooling the rule is you go outside to play or you stay inside to do chores - works like a charm:), * host their friends outside (this one especially is important as when friends are there, they always seem to want to unpack everything - and if they can't resist the temptation then we meet at a spot where they can play, like the beach or park - you can come home to a clean house and happy kids)
7. Cooking double/ triple or quad -something
You may end up with more dishes on the one night but what a pleasure on the second or third night when all you have to do is take something out of the fridge or deep freeze and warm it up. You get a night off cooking and you get to relax. Also choose your dishes carefully when you do. Don't make 2 or 3 elaborate meals - keep it simple. Let your elaborate meals be the ones you prepare fresh and on the day but the frozen ones things like mac and cheese, cottage pie, meat balls etc. And if you are especially clever use things like slow cookers / hot boxes or pressure cookers to do that extra work for you. (these are especially easy to clean if you soak them first)
8. Avoid delay
My biggest cleaning issues happen when I leave things for later. Procrastination is the enemy of any housekeeper or mother, it will come back to bite you and you will wish you hadn't left it. Clean up the crumbs when you see them before they end up under feet and in every room in the house. Do the dishes just after a meal, if you leave it till tomorrow it will take twice as long to clean.
9. Use products you like
This is a particularly challenging one when you are on a tight budget but if you like the products you are using, you will be more inclined to use them. I like things sparkly and smelling nice but a lot of these products can be very expensive and so I also don't buy them all at the same time. I try and buy them at different times so that they don't all run out at the same time. I also look out for specials. If I see a special on the product I normally use then I buy 2.( I would love to buy a whole box but 2 is normally all I can afford). I also add water to the products that my children use frequently because they love squirting lots and lots of all sorts of cleaning products.
Saul had a stinky attitude and I am often reminded of how he only found peace when David played on the harp. Get some worship going on your cell, CD Player or your iPod. It's very difficult to have a stinky attitude when your space is being filled with uplifting music.
So there you have it, 10 steps to perfect housekeeping - now that would be a miracle!
Leave a comment, I would love to hear about your strategies on what you do to make housekeeping easier, while keeping your attitude in check.
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