If you’re wondering why I haven’t shared recipes or cleaning routines or any other kind of homemaking tip in a while, it’s because I completely fell off the homemaking bandwagon this summer. I became so immersed in everything that makes up my work (the Blogger Mentorship Program–15 mentees at the moment!, my Etsy summer and fall lines, daily blogging, sponsored posts, podcasting, etc.) that we ordered a lot of takeout for dinner and our house was never totally clean and organized, which is the way I prefer to keep it.
It took me some pulling back and reevaluating to get back on track. Ultimately, we chose our lifestyle for me to pursue my blogging/entrepreneurial dreams, yes, but also so that I would have the time and energy to properly keep our home in a state of order, which is something I enjoy and is important to me. I like our home to be clean and tidy, with folded laundry in our drawers, and food in the refrigerator. With meals planned, prepped, and cooked. Not perfect, but orderly and consistent.
“Outer order contributes to inner calm.” -Gretchen Rubin
Whereas I had done well at prioritizing homemaking for the first nine months of our marriage, for much of this summer, it was pushed to the very last back burner. Chaos is too strong a word, but scrambling to figure out dinner at 5pm or spending my entire weekend cleaning because I hadn’t worked on it all week took its toll. About the beginning of August, I decided that it was high time to get it back together. I got back to meal planning and started putting a cap on the amount of time I spent in the office during the day, which were both positive steps forward.
We got back to eating at home, and I freed myself up so that I could spend more time taking care of our house, but I realized that a huge part of the problem was that I hadn’t created a new cleaning routine for our (bigger) house–I was still trying to use the same method that I used when we lived in a apartment three times smaller than our current home. Needless to say, it was not working. In our apartment, I dedicated three hours once a week to deep cleaning the entire space. It was hard work, but it was relatively fast given the small floor plan.
Now, it takes triple that time. (I’m not exaggerating…it took me nearly 10 hours the last time I cleaned our entire home in one day!) Not only is that method exhausting, but it’s unreasonable and totally unsustainable. A couple of weeks ago, I set out to find a new routine that would work for me, and I found it on Clean Mama’s site. I have long adored this site for cleaning tips and tricks, and I decided to try the weekly plan (with a few tweaks)–it ended up suiting my needs perfectly. Here it is:
My new cleaning routine
via Clean Mama, with one change
- Monday: clean bathrooms + wash towels
- Tuesday: dust
- Wednesday: vacuum
- Thursday: wash floors
- Friday: catch all day
- Saturday: wash sheets
- Sunday: rest
The only change from Clean Mama’s routine is that instead of washing sheets and towels on Saturday, I prefer to wash towels on Monday while I clean the bathrooms, so that once I’m finished, the entire bathroom is sparkling clean, including the towels.
This routine works perfectly for me. It takes me about 45 minutes to an hour each day, but our house is in a constant state of cleanliness and order, and I’m never overwhelmed at the prospect of having to clean the entire house in one day. Additionally, I’ve moved all of my cleaning supplies into a caddy that I can easily tote around the house with me, which makes the process both faster and simpler.
The first week of following this routine was working well, but I was cleaning in the afternoon, around 3 or 4pm, after I was finished with computer work. This was definitely not ideal for several reasons: I needed to focus on dinner at that time, I was physically and mentally tired, and I really, really didn’t feel like cleaning that late in the day. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself, it’s that depending on my future willpower doesn’t work. I have to create systems and routines that work with my natural rhythms or I’ll never keep them up. So…
The one change that made it click
One morning last week, I woke up and was in a cleaning mood. I checked my routine and got working on that day’s task first-thing. The only things I did before I started cleaning were get dressed, let Charley out, and make our bed. I didn’t eat breakfast or check my email or do anything else. I just got dressed and started cleaning.
An hour later, when I was finished, I noticed how much energy I had! Moving around and breaking a light sweat first thing in the morning really woke me up and got me going. Plus, being a night owl, the mindless task of vacuuming was a nice way to ease into the day.
Now, I clean every morning exclusively. This sets my day up for success and ensures that our home stays tidy because I’m not relying on an elusive afternoon burst of energy to get things done. Here’s my new morning routine:
My morning routine
- Wake up
- Let Charley out
- Brush teeth, wash face
- Get dressed
- Make our bed
- Complete cleaning task for the day
- Eat breakfast
- Clean up kitchen
- Head into office to work
This works well for me. Like really, really well. The first hour and a half of getting up, getting ready, and cleaning is totally thoughtless and requires almost no mental energy. This is ideal for me, because it takes me a while to get my wheels spinning after I wake up. (I used to sit in front of my computer and surf the internet during this time; my revised routine is much more productive.)
Then, the second part, when I eat breakfast, clean up the kitchen, and get ready to work (I usually make a to-do list at this time), is enjoyable and only requires slightly more mental energy. (What will I eat for breakfast? Do I need to thaw or prep anything for dinner? What do I need to get done today?) During this time, I either watch YouTube or listen to a podcast–the promise of entertainment (plus food) is essentially my reward for cleaning. 😉 It works!
We’ve had a few cluttered moments, and we always will come across those, but I can tackle clutter fast since nearly everything in our house has a place…usually with a label! 🙂 It’s cleaning that I can’t handle quickly–I’m so glad to be back in balance as we approach fall because we plan on spending lots of time in our cozy, [clean] house!
// Have you ever had to reevaluate a routine because it was no longer working for you? How did you change it to make it effective again?