Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cleaning: It's All Mental

I love being a mom.  I love that I get to stay home and play with my kids all day.  What I don't love, is cleaning the house.  Balancing being a good mom with cleaning the house seems to be a constant struggle.  Sometimes I feel like I spend all day in the kitchen making food and then cleaning it all up.  I compare cleaning the home to running a race that has no finish line.  You don't quite know what pace to run and you gradually get slower and slower as you get more tired and begin to realize that there really is no end.

My wonderful husband bought me a book a while back that may have offended some wives.  For me, it was a welcome gift.  It is basically a 900 page cleaning bible entitled "Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House" by Cheryl Mendelson.  It has been a great resource for me as I attempt to learn how to be a good house keeper.  (For those of you who do not yet have children, I highly recommend getting this art down before they come!)  I would just like to share a quote from this book that is so true about the mental aspect in cleaning and how to overcome it through routines.

"A housekeeping routine not only prevents your home from growing seedy and sour between cleanings but also helps assure that you are willing to do the work, for, as experienced people all know, housework movivation can be a psychologically delicate matter.  Cleaning, laundry, and other chores are far harder after you have let them go for two weeks; the energy you must summon to tackle them becomes greater the longer you have procrastinated.  Not doing some housework leads to not doing even more housework.

"If you have no system, you have to reinvent your housekeeping or debate what to do first every time you do it, and the required mental effort is a major obstacle, especially when you are tired.  But a tired working person is often able to do things that are routine and habitual.  No thinking is required; minimal inertia must be overcome.  A chore that fits into a reassuring overall plan of housekeeping feels effective and worthwhile.  But if you feel you are just tackling the worst problem in a home that is starting to go to pieces, it may hardly seem worth the effort."

The author suggests dividing all the housework you have into portions that must be done daily, weekly, monthly or seasonally, and yearly or less often.  She then provides a typical list of of chores in these categories.  If anyone is interested in her list, let me know and I will e-mail it to you because I just typed it all up in an excel document...but beware, it is a little daunting.  I have also found it helpful to get my husbands opinion on what is important to him.  Knowing he will notice certain things that have been cleaned is great motivation!

To be honest, I have done this, and it really seems like in order to get it all done, I need to be cleaning all day long!  And that is just not feasible, especially with little ones.  In fact, I have yet to find within the pages of this book any advice on how to keep a schedule with small children at home all day who never seem to be on the same page I am!  I have devised hundreds of schedules and plans only to eventually toss them out the window!  Any advice others have on this matter is greatly welcomed. 

However, I have found that what she said is totally true.  Even if I am not able to get every little thing done, when I have a routine and scheduled days to do things, it is a lot easier to get at least something done.  The mental energy is often the hardest part of it all!  Good luck!

6 comments:

Don Anderson said...

Oh Sherrie! You are amazing! I was just looking at the pictures that you and Lee have sent us and thinking to myself,"What wonderful parents they are! Their children are experiencing so many things in this life!" How grateful we are to have you in the family! Don't be too hard on yourself with the cleaning! Routines are extremely helpful! I have had some that I have kept throughout our marriage and it has been a huge help! You have your children helping you, which is a life lesson for them! There most definitely is a balance in all things, but I must say that if we are going to err, let us err on the side of time with our children!

Sadie said...

I've been working on this one for a long time. One thing I've found helpful is having a place for everything. If it doesn't have a place, it might just get tossed in the garbage. Then once a day or so (preferably at night after the kids are in bed so it stays clean until morning) I do a quick pick up of the house. If everything has a place then it's just a matter of putting little things back where they go. It doesn't take too long, but just eliminating the clutter helps a ton. Hope this helps. You really are amazing!

Aimee and David said...

I have no children so I have no advice. However, I would like to request that spreadsheet you mentioned. Thanks for the advice, I'll start getting in a better routine, since I just finished my 2nd round of dishes for the day and need to o put those away to start the 3rd (I can't wait to have a dishwasher!)

Mary Karlee said...

Hi Sherrie,
I always tout that one of the benefits of living in an apartment means less cleaning, but I've been kidding myself. We just mess up the space that we have twice as fast. I really liked the quote you posted. It makes sense -- cut out the mental issue of what to tackle! I'm going to give it a whirl and hope for the best. As for advice, I have none, but a while back I read a post that helped me out in the ever ending clutter issue. The rule is every time you walk in a room you pick up three things before you start what you set out to do. I'm not super rigid on following this advice, but I do clean as the day goes along instead of saving it up for "pick up time." It helps keep things more manageable, so when I am ready to clear the floor to vacuum or just need a tidy place for 30 minutes there is a lot less to do. Whenever we leave the house I make sure we all try to pick up three things. (Jenna usually just starts playing with the first thing she picks up.) Ok, now I need to go do my dishes...

Here's the link to the full post. http://www.kateexpectations.com/2009/04/spring-cleaning.html

Coach Ann said...

I don't know how I missed this post. I have been trying cleaning routines for years. I have never solved the "everything has a home" problem. In my house, most things have a home, but so often things come that I know I can't throw away, but I just don't know where to put them. I am amazed at how some people can always have spotless homes. I am also aware that if you go to someone's home unexpectedly, that home is not always as sparkling as it is when you are
expected.

Coach Ann said...

I don't know how I missed this post. I have been trying cleaning routines for years. I have never solved the "everything has a home" problem. In my house, most things have a home, but so often things come that I know I can't throw away, but I just don't know where to put them. I am amazed at how some people can always have spotless homes. I am also aware that if you go to someone's home unexpectedly, that home is not always as sparkling as it is when you are
expected.