Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Working Full Time and Keeping a Clean House: Is it Possible?

I have attempted the impossible--keeping my house spotles while working full-time--and although I now accept the impossibility of spotlessness, at least I've picked up some helpful ideas along the way.

1. I've divided my weekly housekeeping into two categories: dusting and vacuuming is one, and bathroom cleaning is the other. I alternate those tasks on weekends. One weekend I'll thoroughly vacuum and dust. The next weekend I'll thoroughly clean the bathrooms. On the bathroom weekends, I'll just pick up visible debris on the carpets with my hands or vacuum only high traffic areas (no dusting). I use a sticky lint roller on my furniture to get up some of the cat fur. On the vacuum/dust weekends, I'll clean spots off the bathroom mirrors and wipe down sinks, counters, and toilets with a Clorox wipe (no shower or tub cleaning).

2. The kitchen is cleaned every evening after dinner--dishes washed and left in the drainer to air dry and put away in the morning; counters and stove wiped down; spots wiped on refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, and cupboards (if noticed); floor swept and spot cleaned if necessary. Occasionally on the weekend I'll do a thorough mopping with a Swiffer Wet Jet mop.

3. I do one load of laundry every evening, right when I get home from work. Mondays = dark, Tuesdays = white, Wednesdays = red/orange/pink, Thursday = "catch up" if needed, Friday = dress clothes/delicates, Saturday = sheets/towels, Sunday = jeans.

4. I grocery shop on weekends, but I plan to switch that to Fridays on my way home from work. I keep a running shopping list on my refrigerator. Then I plan my menu for the week and add to my grocery list the night before I go. That cuts down on multiple trips to pick up forgotten items throughout the week. It also helps me to plan ahead to take items out of the freezer to thaw in the refrigerator a couple of days before needing them. I give myself a break on Friday nights by picking up an unbaked pizza, and on Saturday nights we go out to eat, taking turns choosing the restaurant.

5. Everyone in the family picks up his or her own items and puts them away before going to bed so clutter is kept to a minimum. Beds are made each morning by whomever slept in them.

6. Mail is dealt with daily: recycled, filed, or put in a "to do" pile which is done every weekend. I buy calendars with monthly pockets from the Current catalog in which I place items needed for later weeks or months such as season tickets for our local theater, field trip information, etc. I tried to do a link to these calendars, but it looks like the product may have been discontinued. If so, I'll switch to "Tickler Files." http://simplemom.net/clearing-the-counter-pile-with-a-tickler-file/.

7. Zone cleaning. I got this idea from Fly Lady http://www.flylady.com/d/zones/. I've made my own version of it to fit my house. For example, my one zone task for this week is to vacuum under and behind my living room furniture. This is one of my larger zone jobs, but it should only take about a half hour. I'll do it on Saturday. Last week's zone task was to clean out my bedroom shelves and drawers. I purge, organize, and straighten things. Since I do this every year, I usually don't have much to purge, so it really doesn't take long. I love how organized my nightstand is now! By working in zones, I literally purge, organize and clean my whole house once a year, but it's never a huge, overwhelming task. I confess that sometimes life works in a way that I may not get to three or four weeks of zone cleaning, and then I'll do them all at once. But since each task is relatively small, it's not too bad.

So...if you come to my house right now, you'll find some leftover cat fur on the furniture (it was just bathroom weekend), maybe some pine needles or other debris on the floor. There are probably some mirror splatters by now in the bathroom. A light film of dust covers all flat surfaces, but you won't notice it in most places unless you're looking for it. You'll find some dust bunnies behind my living room furniture and crumbs under the cushions of the sofa in my family room. The oven needs cleaning inside. But overall, it looks pretty good, and I'm content. Last weekend besides the bathrooms and a little zone cleaning, I read, went shopping for craft supplies (4 different stores!), did two different crafts, visited Pinterest and Facebook, cleaned out my email inbox, went to church, deep cleaned most of my dad's kitchen, did laundry, went out to dinner with friends, exercised both days, and had some quiet time with God both days. So...it is possible to work full-time, keep a clean (enough) house, and enjoy some fulfilling personal time. Just don't expect spotless unless you hire a housekeeping service.

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