Stepping into my friend's home was like taking a breath of fresh air. It was so clean! How did she do it? She had seven children and a career. How was she able to keep order when I lived in chaos?
When I asked her the secret, she reminded me that I would not always have small children at home. I went home with renewed determination and found that there were small things that would help keep my house clean. The following principles revolutionized my way of thinking:
Make use of the soapy water
Any time you have soapy water in the sink, grab a cleaning rag and wipe something down. In the bathroom, wipe the tub, toilet or shower. In the laundry room, wipe the door, washer, dryer or wall.
When you finish the dishes, use the soapy water to wipe down something extra such as a cupboard, appliance or chair. Each time you do dishes, take a few moments and use the water to clean something that needs it.
If there is a spill, clean it up immediately, no matter where in the house. Teach your family to do the same.
Think in terms of tasks rather than rooms
Lump tasks together according to the equipment needed and the procedure to follow. Rather than cleaning the entire living room at once, choose to dust several rooms in one session or plug the vacuum into a central outlet and vacuum several rooms rather than just one.
Keep cleaning supplies handy in each room — especially bathrooms, laundry rooms, and utility areas. The less distance you have to go to get them, the more often they will be used.
Designate laundry dates and times. Wash certain things on certain days. That way there are only a couple of batches to do at a time, rather than a mountain that takes hours.
De-clutter at the end of the day before everyone goes to bed. Have family members put their own things away, then the house is ready for the next day.
Use peak energy times for cleaning as well as fun
Do one cleaning task each time you exercise. Your body is already in high gear, and the additional movement of the cleaning task adds to the benefit of the exercise session.
Connect cleaning up with any activity that makes a mess. Use the high energy created by the activity to finish with clean up.
Make cleaning time together time. Keep the lines of communication open as you share household tasks with family members.
Reward yourself for a job well done
Reward yourself each cleaning cycle. Have some ice-cream, go to the dollar store, read a book or watch a movie. Allow yourself to feel the satisfaction of a job well done.
Build reward times and activities into the schedule for those who help around the house. Give points that can be exchanged for cash or privileges such as use of technology or time with friends. Let children know that you appreciate their efforts, and that they are providing you a service. Keeping the house clean is a family affair.
Housecleaning does not have to be drudgery. It is simply work that needs to be done. Allowing yourself to do it regularly in small chunks rather than setting aside hours at a time makes it much more pleasant. Involving family members in the process enables all to feel shared responsibility for the upkeep of the home and gives family members a sense of pride in a job well done.