Create a Simple System for Cleaning
If I was going to invite myself over right now, would you let me come over? Is your house clean enough for company? Maybe you’re one of those people who always have it together and your house looks fabulous 24/7. Maybe that’s because you don’t have kids or maybe your kids are grown. Or maybe you’re really rocking it and your kids are the ones cleaning for you! Wouldn’t that be cool. I’m not there yet, but I’m on my way.
I think unexpected company is a blessing. I don’t want the state of my house to determine if I should invite someone over or not. I have a system for cleaning that keeps me on track all week. My house isn’t always sparkling because I don’t think it needs to be. My house is clean enough for me to feel comfortable inviting company over any day of the week. I’m going to teach you how to create a simple system for cleaning so you can have company whenever you want without worrying about how clean your house is. As a bonus, you will have more free time to do fun things because simple means that you are not going to be cleaning everyday.
I can’t tell you how to clean because we all have different ideas of what clean looks like and we all live in different homes. What I can do is help you create your personalized simple system for cleaning that works with you and your house. For years I tried to do things the FLYlady way, and it was too much for me. I don’t like cleaning everyday. I prefer to do all my cleaning on Monday’s and do a touch-up on Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how the bathrooms look. Besides, there is all this other fun stuff that I would rather be doing!
Spoiler alert: there's a workbook at the end!
YOUR CLEANING BELIEF
- what does clean look like
- what motivates you to clean
- what do you want clean to look like
To begin, we need to examine what clean really looks like. We all have different ideas of what clean looks like, and it’s up to you to decide what that will be like in your home. A few years ago clean looked very different to me than it does now.
I was anxiety driven; I was so afraid my kids would get sick. All. The. Time. I was constantly cleaning and disinfecting everything. The ironic thing is that I killed all the good germs too, and my kids were sick a lot. Now I clean WAY less, and my kids hardly ever get sick. Just the random cold. One case of flu in the past two years. Not bad for five kids!
Pay attention to what you think clean is. Maybe you don’t clean at all because you don’t see the point when kids mess it up right away. Maybe you clean all the time because that’s the way you were raised. Notice your thoughts and how you feel about cleaning.
Maybe you don’t even like cleaning. Remember that you have a choice. You don’t have to clean. You can hire it out. You can trade services with a friend. Would you rather babysit or bake? What does clean even look like?
If you made a list of cleaning duties for each room, what would need to be done? I like how the FLYlady starts at the top, sweeping cobwebs, and works her way down to the floor, mopping. I like her system of working your way through each area of the house on a monthly basis. I just don’t like to clean everyday.
When I followed her way of cleaning I would write down my tasks for the week and do them all on Monday. I don’t like drawing things out over the week. I have since come up with my own way of cleaning. Understand what clean looks like to you, and get in control.
BE IN CONTROL
To be in control of having a clean house you need guidelines to follow. You need to know what needs to be clean + how to clean it. You need to know who is going to clean it + when. You need to stop blaming other people (kids) for your messy house.
Wait. What? The kids are the ones that mess it up, I know. But a clean house needs to start with the Mother and the Father. It needs to start with you. Complaining and bickering about a messy house isn’t going to get it any cleaner. It’s going to make you + your kids feel like crap. Stop blaming. It doesn’t matter where the mess came from or who made it. We can all clean it up because we all live here. To be in control means to set a good example.
BE A GOOD EXAMPLE
- stop complaining
- stop making piles
- clean up after yourself
- be organized
To be a good example you must first stop complaining about the state of your house and start putting it the way you want it. When you stop complaining about your house you will stop feeling so negative about it. Look for what you like about your house. Look for ways to make what you like even better.
Start with your personal space like your closet or your desk. Get it exactly how you want it. It will free up your mind to move onto the next. I’m not saying you draw lines around your personal areas and only clean your things. What I’m saying is that when you have your personal spaces clean, it is easier to clean the rest of the house.
Set a good example of what it looks like to be clean by putting an end to piles. Don’t let the mail pile up. Pay your bills as soon as they are in. And then file your papers. Don’t let the laundry pile up. Have a consistent laundry schedule and put the laundry away as soon as it’s all folded. My kids are always bringing home papers from school. Create a system for them. How long can they hang on the fridge before you toss them?
I’m currently toying with the idea to snap pictures of the artwork and make a small photo book for the school year. It would be so neat to look at and way easier to store. Some artwork is just too cute to toss.
Another way to set a good example is to clean up after yourself. Again, think about your personal areas first. What does your bathroom sink look like? Do you leave clothes on the floor when you get dressed? It’s okay to be messy, but if you want everyone to be on board with you having a clean house, it’s important to set a good example. If it’s okay for you to have a messy room, then it’s probably going to be okay for your kids room to be messy too.
I remember when I first had my own room as a teen. I was so used to feeling frustrated with my sister for not cleaning her side of the room, and here I found myself with yesterday’s clothes on the floor. I didn’t feel like picking them up, so I left them. Pretty soon, it was more than just yesterday’s clothes, and I had that frustrated feeling again. It was so messy! And then it dawned on me that it was my mess. Oh. Right. I told myself that nobody was going to clean it up for me, so I might as well do it myself. And I did. I still do. And when you do it right away, you don’t even notice that you did it.
Part of being able to clean up after yourself is being organized. Anytime you have something out, when you’re finished with it, put it away. Don’t set it on the counter. Put. It. Away. This means getting up and walking to another room sometimes. Do it. If it doesn’t have a place to go, where would the best place for it be? Give it a home. Everything should have a place in your home. If you can’t give it a home, get rid of it.
CLEAN LESS OFTEN
- pick one day
- make it routine
Whoa. Really? One day? Yes, really. Pick one day a week, and your only focus for that day is to clean. If Monday is the best day to clean, then clear your schedule so that nothing happens on Monday except cleaning. We all know that as a stay at home mom that if you have ‘one of those days’ it can take you all day to complete one task. I’m telling you to set aside a whole day just for one thing: cleaning.
It’s important to know your schedule so you can make it a routine. You probably can do all your cleaning in 2 hours or less if you don’t have any interruptions. When is the best time to do that? I would say it’s worth staying up late for or getting up early for. Maybe it could happen during nap time. Whenever it is, you need to create a routine so when that time rolls around every week, you know exactly what you’re going to do.
You have to commit if you want it to happen. When you know how much time you are willing to spend cleaning your house + when you are going to do it, you’re ready to commit. If you want to be effective and really only clean once a week, you need to make sure it gets clean when you clean it. This means you have to eliminate all excuses.
Tell yourself why you want such a clean house. Tell yourself what you are going to be doing the rest of the week instead of cleaning. Think about how it will feel to not feel like you should be cleaning. Just enjoy your house.
Okay, so let’s do a little recap because this turned out to be a long one.
- examine your cleaning belief and figure out what clean looks like to you
- be in control, stop complaining, and get organized
- decide when you’re going to clean and commit to doing a good job
If you do those things, you can simplify your cleaning system. You don’t have to do your whole house in one day. Just do what matters. Make your one day count. Remember to clean up after yourself all week long so that it stays clean. You can do this. Even if you have small children at home. You can do this. When we stop complaining to them about the messy house, they are more willing to help us clean up.
The home is a family home, and our children need to take part in cleaning because they are part of the family. There are other ways to earn money, so don’t feel like you need to always pay them. What can you do to create a good experience for them so they want to help clean up? Only offer rewards if you are really willing to follow up on them.
If you want a little more direction, download my Simple Cleaning Workbook to help you customize your routine.