OK – so if you’ve been following my programme for the last few weeks you should by now have Christmas well and truly put away and you should have at least started, if not completed auditing your house for clutter spots and listed all of the areas that need attention and all your possessions that need a new home allocating with thoughts towards where that home will be.
So far we’ve not really done a great deal, it’s been a slow gradual start. We’ve taken down some decorations, we’ve had a walk around the house with a clip board and pencil, we’ve made some list, perhaps taken some photos but we’ve not really rolled up our sleeves yet have we.
Well before that starts we need more little administrative task and then we’re off.
It’s all too easy when looking at a cluttered home to not know where to start. Every room is a mess, every cupboard is crammed, every item of laundry needs ironing and you’re already tired from looking at it before starting it. Well the truth is you have started it. When you signed up for this programme you started it so well done so far.
What every well run home needs is a routine, think of your home as you would a little business, because your home is your business. Run it as you might a little hotel, with systems and timetables, allocated days to do allocated jobs and lists of what is required to be in stock at all times.
Yes, during the coming year we’re going to do lots of de-cluttering, lots of heavy duty cleaning, lots or organising but there’s also maintenance. For example in April we’re focussing on the bathroom but this by no means means that you don’t need to clean your bathroom between now and April, and once you’ve done it in April you don’t need to do it again until next April. This will need doing at least once per week if you live alone, more often I’d say if you co-habit.
Later this month we’re focusing on the kitchen but of course you still need to do other chores around the home at the same time whilst focussing on the kitchen.
The first year is the hardest – but bare with me and you’ll be on top of things in no time. Once you have the clutter banished and the systems in place the home is a much simpler place to run.
This week as well as your audit you’re going to be coming up with a timetable for your daily, weekly and monthly maintenance programme. This is where an electronic diary is especially useful but if you don’t have access to one you can register for web-based one such as “Google calendar” or you can simply make a timetable similar to the kind you made at school with two columns: the days of the week down one side and the chore to the other.
If I give you an example of my daily, weekly and monthly chores it may help you to get a better understanding of what I mean. Remember, I like most of you, work full time, so all of my home chores are completed in the morning before going to work or in the evening when I get home before I settle down for the evening.
- 0730: Empty dishwasher (if started the previous evening)
- 0800: Make the bed before leaving for work
- 1800: Prepare dinner and tomorrow’s lunch
- 1900 > 2000: Clear away kitchen and load dishwasher and complete allocated chore depending on which day of the week it is (see below)
- 2300: Before going to bed straighten living room, fluff cushions, return any cups to the dishwasher and activate if full. Plan tomorrow’s outfit for work
- Monday: Iron all aired laundry and return to wardrobes, cupboards, drawers as necessary. Vacuum throughout
- Tuesday: Home filing and shredding, write any necessary cheques, sort recycling for tomorrow’s collection
- Wednesday: Clean kitchen, clean bathroom, mop all hard floors
- Thursday: Clear superficial clutter in living room and bedroom. Vacuum throughout
- Friday: An easy one as it’s Friday night (at least one load of laundry) then either fold ready to go on washing line tomorrow or spread out on clothes horse and place in spare bedroom to dry (ready for ironing on Monday)
and so we repeat…
- Monday: Iron all aired laundry and return to wardrobes, cupboards, drawers as necessary. Vacuum throughout…
I know it seems like a lot but it’s only one hour per evening. I personally don’t watch any soaps, I get my chores done. I don’t know what time Eastenders/Corrie is on 1900/1930ish isn’t it but next time you’re home and you hear the theme music marking its end you’ll know that I’m just finishing for the evening now and I’m now relaxing for the rest of the evening knowing all my chores are done and the rest of the evening is mine to enjoy.
There are some chores that need to be done less regularly. For example:
- Every other Sunday I change my bed linen. I take it off on Sunday mornings and wash it, I replace it on Sunday afternoon after the bed has had a good airing and I add the clean linen to the ironing basket for Monday.
- The first Saturday of every month I clean my fridge (so twelve times per year)
- The second Saturday of every other month I clean my oven (so six times per year)
- The first Sunday in March, June, September and December I clean my windows inside and out (so only four times per year)
I don’t have to remember all of these things as they are diarised and I’m not constantly updating my diary either as I have them in auto repeat. Make full use of the repeat functions in your diary. I can help you with this if you get stuck.
So what I need you to do is come up with a simple daily (morning and evening) routine that will work for you and a simple weekly routine so that each evening you spend approximately one hour on domestic chores. Areas you will need to include are: the kitchen – the bathroom – vacuuming/mopping – home paperwork – laundry. Once you’ve done this start it with whichever chore you’ve allocated yourself for Tuesday. For example my recycling is collected on Wednesday mornings so I like to do my home paperwork and sort out my bins and recycling on Tuesdays so I can throw away all of the envelopes and shredded paper straight away.
The more sporadic chores like cleaning windows/ovens/fridges you can leave for now and we’ll return to those later.
Come up with a plan that works for you.
Good luck and remember – NO WIRE HANGERS!