Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Finding the end of the Tunnel - with the Housework

This is a post I have been contemplating even before I started my blog.  It's something that has been prevalent in my life since my husband and I started living together.  I've spent various times over the years feeling like all I am doing is chasing my tail with the housework, which just became a lot harder when the boys arrived.  I struggled quite a bit with having two babies 13months apart and trying to keep the cogs turning and the washing pile down - it was hard work.  But I am someone that REALLY cannot function with a messy house for to long.  My DH will vouch for my mad cleaning sprees that I go on when I get fed up!  I want to set a good example to our boys, in the hope that some of it will rub off on them over the years and they will keep their own homes clean and tidy.  I also dislike having friends pop in for a visit when the house is a trash heap. I like our home to be warm, comfortable and welcoming to anyone who walks through our front door.

I have friends that express these same frustrations.  In the last year I have worked quite a bit with two external jobs, raising the boys and I really felt like I was loosing a grip on 'keeping house'.  During these times I tried various ways to conquer this but it is only recently that I feel like I have found a solution to my dilemma.  

I thought I would share this on my blog as it has really helped me and I'm hoping that it may help a few of you.
The solution for me after years of trying to come up with a plan, was to make a plan.  Not hard right?  Gosh I wish I had done this earlier.
I was standing there one day at my kitchen bench, the dishes were a mess and I had just finished kneading out some bread and there were toys and clothes littered everywhere, I also couldn't remember the last time I had given the house a sweep and vacuum.   So I took the bull by the horns!

First of all I got my trusty pad and paper and I drafted out a list of ALL my housework chores that need to be done to keep the house clean, tidy and functioning.  It went something like this:

Sweeping, Dishes, Cleaning table tops, Washing, Ironing, Vacumming, Mop the  floors, Bathroom/Toilet, Fish Tank, Dusting, Cobweb eradication, Changing sheets, Washing and Airing Duvets, Turning Mattresses, Mowing Lawns, Cleaning windows inside and out, Wiping down kitchen benches and cupboards, Cleaning Fridge/Freezer, Laundry Room, Sweeping Deck, Skirting boards, high use walls and light switches cleaned

Now looking at this I thought my goodness no wonder my tail is being chased.  Housework is a funny thing, it never goes away!  So I then preceded to break them down into just when they actually needed doing:
DAILY - Sweeping wooden floors, Dishing, Washing, Wiping Tables, I also need to bake bread or things for the tin
WEEKLY - Vacuuming and Moping Floors, Sweeping the Deck, Ironing, Changing Sheets, Cleaning Bathroom and Toilet, Dusting and tidying away mess on surfaces (like stray toys and papers)
FORTNIGHTLY - Cleaning Fish Tank, Mowing Lawns, and I also do my big grocery shop once a fortnight
MONTHLY - Windows inside and out, Wiping down the kitchen and fridge/freezer, Clean the Laundry room and washing machine, Flip and air Mattresses and wash/air the Duvets, Wipe the skirting boards and walls.

Now the list looked a little more manageable so I broke it down into when I wanted to do these tasks during the week, to give myself some kind of aim/goal. I have my daily chores but then I give myself only one bigger chore to do so I'm not spending my whole day at it. I can get the housework done in an hour or so now and have the rest of my day to do as I see fit.  My housework is now ordered like this

Everyday I sweep the wooden floors (kitchen, bathroom, dining room), I do the dishes and wipe the tables as needed, I also bake the bread or make cakes/biscuits etc for the tin if I need to, I put a load or two of washing on and I try as hard as I can to fold the loads as they dry (washing can be my worst enemy)
MONDAY - Vacuum the carpets thoroughly (if I need too I will vacuum them at other times ;) ), Mop and sweep the deck
TUESDAY - Shopping day once a fortnight, this normally takes a good portion of the day. On my non-shopping Tuesday I clean the fishtank and get milk and veges
WEDNESDAY - Bathroom and Toilet 
THURSDAY - Dusting and Tidying away bits and pieces - I grab any cobwebs while I'm at the dusting 
FRIDAY - Is my day to do a monthly job, I rotate these so each week I tick a monthly job off the list and just keep cycling them through.
SATURDAY - Change the sheets on all the beds
SUNDAY - Day of Rest, but I normally do Ironing as it doesn't take long and I find it relaxing while the kids burrow down to watch a movie.

When I showed DH my plan he was great and took on his responsibilities - so Every Tuesday he puts the rubbish out.  He also alternates each weekend with Mowing the Lawns or Washing the Cars.  He goes out to work and my work is our home, the gardens and the day to day things with the boys, so I don't feel like he needs to be doing anymore than this. He cooks on the weekends though as he loves to do this :)

This seems to be working well.  My plan is stuck on the fridge for easy reference and as a reminder.  I now just potter my way through the housework with not to much stress and I know if I follow the list it will all get done and I can then stay on top of it.  I think the worse thing is letting something go and then its a mission to get it straightened back up again.  
I HATE sticking to a strict plan, but I've made an allowance for this one :) I know that if I'm slack on a day, decide to do something else or if I'm not feeling the best that my chores will be dutifully waiting and still be there the next day. When I get a burst of energy I do a couple of jobs at once, as long as I get to the end of the week and can tick all my jobs off I'm happy. 

If you find yourself lost in the world of the housework then I hope you may like to try this suggestion and see if it could be what helps you get back on track.  I wish I had done this when I was working, I would have just picked one job a day to do quickly at nighttime or at least know what I needed to achieve on my time off, so I wasn't always feeling like I was drowning with it all.

Lastly I wanted to share this with you - I have worked hard to change my mindset over this, I used to see doing all my chores as a drag and generally I avoided them like the plague and just did as I needed to, to get by.  Normally I would take up one day and get lots of things done and that was it - I also experienced days of guilt for not doing much on the housework front, or for DH coming home to a messy house after working hard all day, I was never lazy but I just chose to do other things like gardening or taking the boys somewhere.   
I now see keeping our home clean and tidy as a pleasure to do.  It is after all my work. I don't go out to work as we have chosen for me to be at home with the boys, so my work is now making sure everything that needs to be done at home gets done. My job as I see it is to keep the house comfortable, clean and inviting. To cook and bake nourishing, yummy foods and to make sure we all have clean, tidy clothes to wear.  DH does his part in our lives by working extremely hard and earning our money, I work just as hard by keeping the house and the affairs down here in order, and I of course look after the boys and meet their needs everyday.  We've created a balance between what we both do and I take pride in completing my job to the best that I can.  I LOVE MY JOB :)

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Hiya, thanks for taking the time to comment on my post. I can't wait to read your comments and to share ideas, I am a busy mummy with 2 boys to run around after so I will try and get to comments as quickly as I can...if there is a delay in seeing them published this is why, not because I don't care, I'm just taking some time to smell the roses :)

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