Friday, January 28, 2011

A Cleaning Calendar to Keep Your House Clean and to Reduce Your Meanness

Recently, I started receiving daily cleaning tasks through email from Fly Lady.  Each week she focuses on a different area in the house: kitchen, master bed and bath, living/dining room, etc.   During the week she gives different tasks that can be completed within 15 minute increments.  For instance, this week the emails have focused on the master bedroom and today’s chore is to clear off the top of the dresser of anything you have been intending to put away. 
Some may have a hard time believing that there are people in the world that need an email reminding them of doing these kinds of tasks.  I wish I could say I was one of those who just don’t understand, but unfortunately, I so understand and have loved getting these email reminders.  On days I just don’t want to clean (like every day) I receive a very uplifting email full of testimonials and tips.  There is a short and easy task that I can complete quickly and easily.  These little tasks add up over time, like change in a jar.  In no time I started to see the impact.  My closets and cabinets are a little more organized and I want to keep them that way. 
Fly Lady just introduced a new web based calendar that goes another step in keeping you on task.  I took a look, but the last thing I need is another calendar or account.  However, I really like the idea.  I have heard of scheduling cleaning on a calendar before.  I actually took a stab at it when I got “gung hoe” about doing a homemaking journal.  I spent a lot of time creating very elaborate schedules for daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, and yearly cleaning and maintenance.  I used it precisely once and discovered that the next to last thing I need around here is more paper.   
I borrowed Fly Lady’s idea of using a calendar and created one in my Outlook calendar.  I have been faithfully using my Outlook calendar now for a few months so I feel like the habit of using it has been set.  I created a separate calendar from our normal activity calendar just for cleaning and journaling.  I will get to the journal in another post.

Each week is labeled A – D.  Each day I placed a reoccurring schedule item for each different area of the house, except for Sunday.
§  Monday – Kitchen
§  Tuesday – Living and Laundry Rooms
§  Wednesday – School and Dining Rooms
§  Thursday – Bedrooms and Playroom
§  Friday – Bathrooms
§  Saturday – Garage and Grounds
§  Sunday – Day of Rest
Within the item there is a list of things that need to be done for each week.  As an example, the item for today, Friday, is Bathrooms and looks like this:
§  Scrub toilet
§  Disinfect/scrub sink/counter/tub
§  Sweep and mop floor
§  Change litter
Week A
§  Organize storage areas (cabinets, closets)
Week B
§  Wipe  Outside of Cabinets
§  Dust Decorations and Furniture
Week C
§  Walls, Windows, Doors
§  Ceiling and Floor
Week D
§  Clean Drains
§  Wash Curtains
You can see that I have ongoing weekly tasks in this room, but I also have tasks that only need to be done once a month if needed.  I only perform each task for 15 minutes.  If I feel I want to do more, I reset the timer and hit it again.  I don’t overwhelm myself with a marathon cleaning session.  I just stick to short cleaning bursts.
This is just a trial run on then schedule.  I know it isn’t perfect.  I may find that the shower curtain, for instance, needs to be washed weekly with the towels.  It is a cloth curtain, not a plastic liner.  I can adjust as needed.
It is also very flexible.  Just this week I had to clean the living room on Tuesday even though the schedule said I clean that I should clean that room on Wednesday.  It just needed to be done.  The kids had trashed it on a game night and had left popcorn all over the floor (note to self: teach kids to be more respectful of the things in this home).  I didn’t need to consult any schedule about what needed to be done.  After I was done I came up and switched the living room and school and dining rooms items.  Flip flop, and I had adjusted the schedule.  I guess I could have squeezed it all into the same day, but I didn’t want to.
A big part of Fly Lady’s philosophy is not to get overwhelmed.  You don’t have to get it all done in one day and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  I love this woman.  How smart is that?  She understands women very well.  We do have a tendency to try to be perfectionists.  We know that our home is being judged.  Hey, don’t’ deny it.  You know it is true.  I know my home is a reflection of me just second after the behavior of my children.  There is a difference between knowing that and allowing your life to be turned into chaos because you are afraid of what the judges will say. 
God has made it clear to us that he knows we are not perfect and he loves us anyway.  If God knows I am not perfect and he is the only one I should try to please, why should I hide that I didn’t get all three bathrooms cleaned before I had guests over?  Why should I stress and turn into some kind of crazy woman when I know guest are coming and I have a mountain of laundry waste high? Wouldn’t I be bearing false witness to my friends about myself by trying to hide my imperfections? I am not saying let them use a dirty bathroom.  Lock off one of the bathrooms, toss all the dirty laundry into the laundry room and close the door, and enjoy your company.  We aren’t getting into heaven based on the cleanliness of our homes.
In our family we have a little joke about the attitude of our women while we are cleaning.  We call it “cleaning mean”.  Very literally, when we clean we get mean.  With every swipe of a cloth or swish of a broom we get more frustrated that the progress we made was ruined since the last time we cleaned.  We resent those who messed it all up.  We resent that we have to keep doing the same task over and over because the same people do not appreciate, respect, or are considerate of what we do. 
I had to ask myself why is it such a big deal?  Would I prefer a career outside the home where I get paid for my job and feel more respected and appreciated?  The honest answer is no; not to mention, I spent enough time in the “real world” to figure out that they don’t respect you either. Together, my husband and I decided that it was more important that I stay home so that our children didn’t have to be put in daycare and the decision evolved to include homeschooling.  In fact, I begged and prayed for the opportunity to stay home and serve my family.  I have to remind myself of this when I feel I have the right to feel resentment over yet another pile of dirty clothes?  I chose this life. I own it.  I want it.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am not saying that I don’t have the right to set the people in this house straight about their bad behavior.  I am the keeper of the home and even my husband understands that when it comes to the care of the home I am the boss.  He put me in charge and chose to submit to me in this area, so even he has to accept my correction from time to time (the time he wiped his hands on his Grandmother’s lace table cloth comes to mind here). I may wash the doormats, but I am not one.  Sometimes children and husbands just need a small reminder in this area, but not a temper tantrum. 
I can see the comments coming, so just know we don’t all run our marriages and our homes the same way, and that is an example of what makes this the greatest country on God’s Earth.
If you aren’t using a calendar for cleaning already try this out for one week.  Each day write down one task that you can complete in 15 minutes.  Or, better yet, subscribe to Fly Lady’s weekly emails so that you don’t even have to come up with the chore.  At the end of the week, ask yourself if you feel you have had a productive week.  I am betting you will get so addicted to those emails you will wish that she gave you a task for Sunday. As much as you may want a task just relax on Sunday and trust that God knew what he was doing by taking a day off.
Also, don’t forget to ask yourself if your meanness level decreased during the week?  Do you feel like it was worth it?  Was there a tiny bit less stress in your day?  It adds up.
One last thing: recruite your kids to do this with you. Let them participate and share the tasks that Fly Lady sends you.  Don’t overwhelm them.  Just like you, they have fragile spirits.  For instance, today’s task is to clean off the master bedroom dresser.  Just translate that into their dressers as well.  Tell them you are setting the timer for 15 minutes and they are to clear as much stuff off the top of the dresser as possible by putting things away in their proper place.  If they don’t get it all put away that is ok.  The reward comes regardless of a finished or perfect job.  Sit down and have a snack together afterwards or take them to the park as a reward.  If nothing else, just tell them thank you for doing this with you.  You will be amazed at how far a thank you will take you. 
Happy Cleaning!

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