ISO: Lean, Mean, Cleaning Routine

I’m in desperate need of a routine. Okay, actually? I’m in need of several routines – I need one that will motivate me to move my body every day. I need one that will help me keep my toddler engaged and entertained and maybe a teeny bit educated. I need one that will ensure all these baffling homeowner responsibilities are addressed in a timely fashion. But my big goal? Is to find one that will help me keep my house clean, without making me feel like a Merry Maid all the bloomin’ day.

I was born the eldest daughter of a really, really, freakishly, well-organized and clean-obsessed woman. I’ve inherited a little of her innate sense of routine, and I’ve internalized a lot of her little “rules” for how things should be done, how things should look when you’re finished. I haven’t, apparently, inherited her time management techniques.

I am really good at making lists. I am really good at starting systems with great enthusiasm. I’m good at having a general awareness of what needs to be done at any given moment around the house.

What I’m not good at is sticking to my plans. I think that I usually plan for too much at one time; then, when I’m incapable of doing it all (perfectly), I just throw my hands in the air and give up. Resign myself to a life of squalor. Oh, alright, maybe not squalor… but not white-glove-ready, either.

I need to find a way to manage the things that must be done daily – like laundry here and there, keeping the kitchen and bathrooms at a healthy level of cleanliness. I need to find a way to keep track of the things that are done less often – like changing the air conditioner filter.

I’ve tried a few different things over the years – a calendar grid posted in the kitchen, where I just noted what I did each day, so that I could glance across and see what was left to be done; FlyLady’s motivational email subscription; a notebook patterned off FlyLady’s system that I could flip from day to day. I also tried my mom’s method, where she makes a daily to-do list on an index card and just somehow gets it all completed each day. I have no idea why an index card is important, but that’s how she does it, so I tried it.

My current system is no system at all. I keep the kitchen clean, sweeping and running the dishwasher as needed, mopping when the space under Smooch’s seat at the table gets sticky-looking. I vacuum when the crumbs in the playroom are big enough to see; I change the sheets when I get up and think, “Wow, when IS the last time I changed the sheets?” or, in the case of Smooch’s bed, when he has a nighttime diaper leak (which ends up being at least once a week, if not more often). I know that I can be better – I can do better – I expect more of myself.

Other than the obvious: do what needs doing – what have you tried that works for you? Or is it just that simple? Do I merely need to make myself get up every day and do SOMETHING, anything, and trust that it will all work out in the end, that every task will eventually be accomplished? I’m sitting at your figurative knee, oh interwebby friends. Teach me.

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4 Responses to ISO: Lean, Mean, Cleaning Routine

  1. Waiting Amy says:

    I’m afraid I’m system-less. I use that last approach … do what looks worst on that day. I do try to keep the kitchen clean each morning, and I’ve learned to accept doing the bathroom piecemeal. If the boy is busy, clean the toilet, next day the sink, etc. I checked out FlyLady, but that was just too inflexible with a little one for me.

    I find what helps me get a lot done, including more heavy stuff, is having out-of-town guests. Boy do I get a lot done when family comes. It gives me a deadline, which does wonders. Maybe have a friend over for dinner to help push you to get that little bit extra done every now and then? Plus you’d have a fun dinner!

  2. fizzledink says:

    HA! Oh my goodness, you totally described my system-less system! I do exactly that, with overnight guests or company coming. I guess I just want to avoid that feeling of stress and panic that sets in the day or two before the guests arrive, you know? It really made the holidays harder this year – I think that if I’d had a system in place, having guests wouldn’t have meant ‘so much extra work’ – just setting up the airbed and laying out the sheets, basically. *Sigh* I keep thinking, one of these days I’ll find something that works…

  3. Amy says:

    I’m like you- great at starting systems but never sticking with them. I’m a Flylady fan, and made my notebook, but I never stick with it too long. So, I kind of do whatever needs to be done on any given day, and try to keep up with dishes and laundry. If you find the magic system, let me know! 😉

    OH– and today is National Clean Off Your Desk day (see my main blog) so that’s my task for the day. Maybe we need more cleaning holidays? LOL!

  4. fizzledink says:

    Oh sure, NCOYD day sounds great…. if I had a desk! 🙂 Gruff has completely taken over our computer desk in the “office,” so do you know what I get?

    I get to perch a laptop, a notebook, and my drink on the arm of the sofa and try not to knock it all over every time a small voice hollers for me. Or I get to stack it all up on the little “dead zone” of corner kitchen counter, where it bothers Gruff to no end to see my little piles of sticky notes (with blog ideas, recipes, and crafts jotted down) and pens and the laptop and my cellphone and the receipts I need to enter in the checkbook… (Sigh) This? This is why I need a system. And a desk. 😉

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