Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How to have a good attitude and a clean house in 10 steps

My attitude is stinky at the moment.  I detest a dirty house but I can't stand cleaning it.  I resent the fact that this is my area of responsibility.  I would much rather be reading, gardening, visiting friends and watching videos.  I get mad when I tidy and my children come in 5 minutes later and mess where I have cleaned.  I wish I could afford to have someone help, but it's just not in our budget.

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.

10.  Worship
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. 

Growing Home


Linking up with Big Family Fridays


  1. Ha! I'm in that stinky place myself right now (thankfully I usually have someone to help, but she's on maternity leave - I pray some fairy godmother will appear one day SOON for you :))
    I hate trying to school in a mess. If it's clean and in order, then I can teach and function. Sigh. This week is pear shaped completely, because I know if I break from school I'm going to want to clean until it sparkles! Thanks for the encouragement and letting me know I'm not alone in having a stinky attitude - you made me smile!

  2. Well I must say this morning was a lot better because I put some of these things into practice again. It's funny how quickly we forget the small things that actually make life a lot easier!

  3. good stuff! love the one about outside or chores if you are inside! ( sorry nursing baby too)...

  4. no worries Christi, I am a superwoman, I can read between the lines

  5. I'm a list maker too, it keeps me organized and I don't forget anything. I loved number 2, I'm always giving my kids a list of things to do and send them on their way and this causes massive frustration. I need to start cleaning with them, maybe they won't fight and cut up so much! Thanks!

    1. Alecia, I often make the mistake of thinking I'll get more done because there are more bodies, doing more all over the house but then I end up policing them - and who wants to do that?

  6. Are you peeking into my windows? :)
    It seems I struggle with the same things you do in regards to cleaning. And your tips are right on the money. When I am consistent with my routine things go such much better-even when there are little messes all around. I know I will get to them eventually.
    One day my cleaning fairy will come, but for right now I am a Cinderella-in-waiting!

    1. I think its every window in every house that doesn't have house cleaner (if they were honest) and I reckon there are loads of Cinderella's waiting.

  7. This is great advice! I keep my children outside, too. Once school is over, out they go! It's good for them as much as it's good for me. I am then motivated to work faster so I can go out, too... or enjoy a quiet house. ;) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for visiting Tereasa,my children also love gardening and messing around outside - I even send them out with brooms and brushes. They LOVE washing windows - not perfectly but they get better as they get older. The always enjoy any activity with water.

  8. nice post thanks for sharing...looking for to visit more...blessings...soraya

  9. I can so relate! I am lucky that I have a lady who comes in once a week to clean the house, properly! It is really needed with two boys and three dogs running through here everyday! I still do my washing every other day, dishes everyday, and have to clean these wooden floors everyday. I try and keep to my schedule as much as possible, but do change for unavoidable things.

    Another thing that helped us a lot was the fact that we bought machines whenever we could afford something, or received extra money. As we are married 16 years this year, it didn't happen all at once, but over a couple of years! So I have a very good dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer, which saves me a tremendous amount of time. And also a water filtration vacuum cleaner that cuts down on the sinus from dust!

    And last but not least. My boys are 3 and 5 years respectively! Since I started giving them chores to do (with my help) - make bed, wash the floors, dust and polish the wooden furniture, they have been much more careful not to make such a mess! We also work together, to get the job done.

  10. Love it, very encouraging!

    1. Thanks Janine, and there's more - there is a guest post coming with further ideas of housekeeping and homeschooling!


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