From the Mom of the TraveLangs

The Challenge to a Clean Home

A clean home doesn’t happen on its own. Believe me, if it did I would be celebrating. Even if someone else cleans your home, you have to have a plan in place for what you want to be done and when you want it to get done. There will even be some things that you prefer to do on your own.

Challenge: Develop a cleaning system and schedule that works for you and your family.

Growing up, my mom and dad both worked full-time. With three kids and a massive house, they hired someone to help keep the house clean (and the kids in order – or maybe the other way around some days). She did the basics – mopped, swept, dusted, and laundry. She never tried to organize or clear through the clutter (especially in my room).

Things were clean but often chaotic.

Meanwhile, in my husband’s home, everything was daily organized, dusted, vacuumed, swept, cooked, cleared, and cleaned all while his mom and dad also worked full-time. At least, that’s how he tells it. He was an only child so chaos was not part of his normal.

When we got married, his expectations and my expectations were on a collision course for disaster. It nearly ended that way the first time he corrected how I did laundry. “That’s not how you do it.”

I assured him it was most certainly how I did laundry and if he didn’t like how I did laundry he was more than welcome to take over the task. For most of our marriage, my husband has done the laundry. 

We found our way to stay unstuck in our cleaning progress. I cook. He does the dishes most of the time. I clean the floors. He cleans the bathrooms. I get the groceries and put them away. He does the laundry. There are always those seasons when things have to shuffle around, but for the most part, we have found a way that works for us.

Clean Home Rhythm

Developing a cleaning system for your home and family required understanding the rhythm of your home and your relationships. Even talking through what each person enjoys doing and absolutely hates doing can be beneficial. The more communication, the better the system will work.

1. Start with the basics.

It turns out there are certain tasks that you need to do every day. 

  • make beds
  • pick up floors
  • sweep floors
  • feed pets
  • clear/wipe tables
  • clear/wipe other surfaces
  • Meals

These are all great examples of daily tasks. Depending on your family, location, and needs, what are the tasks you want or need to be done every day?

2. There are also weekly tasks. 

Some things only need attention every few days or once a week. Everything from organizing rooms to cleaning the car (although truth be told if you give these a quick once over most days then weekly cleaning becomes even quicker).

  • clean/organize cars
  • clean/organize bedrooms
  • clean/organize closets
  • clean/organize outdoor spaces
  • clean/organize shared spaces
  • clean/organize kitchen 
  • Water plants
  • mop/vacuum
  • clean bathrooms
  • Clean out the refrigerator/freezer

3. Make a list of the “as needed” type chores.

There are some things that don’t have a particular schedule – like the trash. They need to be done when they need to be done. Some more than once a day. 

  • Walk the dog
  • Empty the trash
  • Empty the dishwasher
  • Fill soap dispensers

4. Monthly, seasonal, and yearly tasks.

There are also those tasks that are only tackled occasionally.

  • Windows
  • Cleaning outside around the foundation/heating and cooling units
  • clean/repair outdoor furniture
  • Clean doors/check seals
  • Clean appliances (run a cleaning cycle)
  • Clean the trap under the washer
  • Clean trap under the refrigerator
  • Check detectors/change batteries
  • Make insurance pictures and an inventory list

You’ll want to be sure you have a scheduled time for each of these activities.

5. Talk it out.

Go through the list and talk about what each person wants to handle and absolutely does not want to handle. Sometimes there are tasks that nobody wants to handle (are there people who enjoy cleaning bathrooms), but talking through the lists will help develop a system that works even for those hated tasks.

6. Write it out!

Create a chart everyone can reference. Send it electronically to everyone’s phones if that is how you roll. Or post it close to the main door so everyone sees it when they come and go.

7. Give grace.

Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we ignore. Sometimes we get distracted. We need to give each other grace as we learn the best way to a clean home.

8. Stand firm.

When learning new habits, it can be tough to overlook old habits. If you’ve always done the chores around the house, it can be a challenge to let others do things their way. It can be even more of a challenge if they don’t do what they are supposed to do. Stand firm in the schedule. Have a family meeting if things start falling apart and see what can be done to improve or fix the system. Also, be sure to define consequences and follow through!

The best way to get your house in order is to have a plan that works for you, for your family, and for your current situation. The plan may shift with the current season, but if the plan works for you then you will work the plan. Take the challenge to create a system that works for your clean home.

The Mom

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