Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday - House Cleaning Day

I used to be pretty sporadic about house-cleaning, doing whatever needed to be done whenever it needed it.  Or maybe not doing it at all for a good while.  Or really cleaning before someone came to visit.  Our home usually looked presentable, especially if you did not look too closely.  I could get away with that when there were only two of us!  

Now things have changed drastically with seven of us here.  Have I mentioned that most of us are ALWAYS home?  The house never gets a breather: three meals a day for 6 or 7 people (at least), every day; five different grades of school, five days a week; six sets of sheets and seven towels used every day, not counting the hand towels which really should be changed every hour or two!  Which brings us to the bathrooms, four of them (I am very thankful for that number!), two of which are very heavily used by five children (Have I mentioned that four of them are boys?) who are still learning to see the messes they make!

At some point in the last 15 years of having children, I accepted the fact that the house needed to be cleaned every week at some level, just to keep the place from becoming unsanitary.  Also, though Edwin and I are generally in favor of neatness and sparsity over clutter, a lot of things can get out of place in a week, so that needs to be dealt with.  Over time that has evolved into a Friday house cleaning plan.

I did not just wake up one Friday morning and decide to put this plan into place.  As my household became harder to manage I began to seek advice from many places, from relatives and friends with children and well-cared-for homes to blogs such as Large Family Logistics and the Fly Lady (You know: Shine your sink! Tie Your Shoes!).  I read cleaning books like Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell and Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson.  Over time I figured out what needed to be done daily and weekly, and that still changes occasionally.

The first thing that is helpful is to decide which day of the week you will spend cleaning more thoroughly than the others.  We still have daily chores: room cleaning/bed making/toy pick-up, sweeping, dishes, trash/recycling, bathroom wipe-up/towel changing, and some high-traffic area vacuuming.  This is because there are so many of us always home; a smaller or more absent family could get away with less on a daily basis.  But on Fridays we concentrate on really getting things pretty clean, and all at the same time, which I really enjoy for the half-hour it lasts.

My mother-in-law, who is a much better cleaner than I am, likes to clean on Monday.  For her, cleaning up after the weekend and starting the work week with a clean house is the plan.  I can understand that logic, but Mondays are not great for us - starting the school week with a two hour cleaning break is not good for us right now.  So for me, Friday is the day.  We clean up from the week and start the weekend, when we are more likely to have guests, with a clean house.  Maybe you need your husband home to help with the cleaning so Saturday is the right day - we were there for a lot of years, too.  Anyway, pick a day and stick with it until your needs change.  The point is to stick with it.  So-so cleaning every week is better than great cleaning only now and then.  I've tried them both.

I have to say that our family can clean our fairly-large house in 1-2 hours, but that is because there are six of us working, some of us are very highly motivated to get done quickly, and my standards are not super-high.  We do not dust every ceiling fan and every set of blinds every week.  That extra, spring-cleaning type stuff gets done on a monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis, or when the grandparents or my sister's family are coming to visit! :)  You have to decide what is right for your family, and know that if you teach your little children to clean with you, it will pay off when they are older.  Taking the time to teach them how to clean a bathroom is hard now, but it is time well spent.  So it may take you much longer if you have more learners than helpers.  Hang in there!  Children get older quickly, as I've noticed.

It is with fear and trembling that I will post what we do each Friday.  I used to be a lot more paranoid about if we are clean enough and if people would think we are slobs if they knew we did not clean the top of the refrigerator each week.  But if you have been to my house and if you are tall enough, you already know that we are not neat freaks.  Our goal is to have a clean, comfortable, and inviting house for our family and guests.  We tend to put things off or get stuck in the middle of projects, so if you come here often enough you will see that the curtain rod that we can not decide about is still on my bedroom floor and the large grouping of picture frames for the family room is still leaning against the office wall.

All that said as a disclaimer, here is what we do each week if we can:
  • Bathrooms - The three oldest kids each clean a bathroom and I clean the master bath.  This consists of scrubbing the sink, counter tops, toilet, and tub.  They sweep/vacuum/shake the rugs, make sure the bathroom is well-supplied, and deal with the dirty towels, wash cloths, cups left behind, etc.  I have always come behind them to deal with the mirrors and floors, but they are old enough now that I should be making them do that part too.  Now and then I really get after the tubs with bleach and wash the shower curtains and mats, but not every week.  We have one plastic tote full of the cleaning supplies that we all share, so this job has to be staggered among the other jobs to keep things moving along.  Storage space in the bathrooms does not allow us to have a tote in each one, but that would be nice.  Bathroom cleaning requires lots of training, but, like I said, it is worth it!
  • Vacuuming - We vacuum all the carpets and the stairs.  The kids do all of it, with the three oldest each taking one level and the two youngest each taking a set of stairs.  This is really nice for me.  We have one good vacuum, so this job needs to be staggered as well.  They use a hand-held vacuum on the stairs, which makes it easier for a smaller person to handle.
  • Room Cleaning - The kids clean their rooms really well, including their closets and drawers.  This is the day the desks get cleaned up, the junk comes out from under the beds, the already-finished library books go back to the library baskets, etc.  They also dust and empty the trash.  Then we all work together to get things put away in all the rooms - games, laundry, what-ever is lying around.  This is the day the great Lego cities that have been out all week (or PlayMobil, or...) get put away, blanket forts come down, and all the recyclables that have been used for Tech Deck skateboards get hauled out (most of the time).
  • Dusting - I am still OCD enough to want to do this myself, except for the kids' rooms.  I need to train them better and let this go, but I do need to be working too...  I also include rotating the couch cushions in this job, another OCD problem.
  • Kitchen - This is what I do during most of the cleaning time.  I scrub the sink, deal with any dishes or those wine glasses that sit around too long waiting to be washed, wipe the counter tops, cabinet doors/drawers, and use the special cleaners on my stainless steel appliances and ceramic cook top.  I clean the chairs as I am dragging them out (or, more often, have the kids drag them out) so I can sweep and mop.  I usually clean the window above the sink and the glass doors to the screen porch too.  It would be a good time to clean out the refrigerator, too, and I do that sometimes; though more often that job gets done in conjunction with a big grocery shopping trip.
I would love to hear how your family handles the cleaning chores, what you do on a weekly basis, and tips for making it easier.  Please leave a comment!

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17


Debbie said...

Thanks for the encouragement and for me "exhortation." I was doing "one more thing" on the computer before I was going to get going with some chores around the house when I saw your link on Facebook.

So here I am still sitting at my computer when the house is sorely in need of cleaning. OK! I'm getting up!

Thanks for the much needed push!

Gail said...

Just for the record, I still try to clean house on Monday, but with your father-in-law retired, it doesn't always happen. He is very supportive of that endeavor, but many times our projects i.e. back-splash, which always take much longer than either of us anticipate, seem to require the time I would normally spend on the needed cleaning. I will take him being home any day to my OCD cleaning schedule.

I am loving it that you, also, move the sofa cushions around. that is soooo OCD.

I have always found your home to be the perfect combination of clean and welcoming. You are my hero for managing all the things you do in the right priority. I hope you take it as a compliment that, if I had it to do over, I would take lessons from you. I love you for who you are and what you mean and do for your(my) family.

Marcie said...

Sounds as though you have the house cleaning worked out
great.I think it is wonderful how you (and Edwin) make
your children help with the household chores (and outside),and get it all done in a couple hrs!!!
As for us we sweep the floors everyday and keep the
bathrooms and kitchen cleaned but the carpet only gets
it once a week,everything else is picked up as needed.
We also have Mom's house to keep clean,we could sure use some of your helpers.
Aunt Marcie

Tracey said...

Gail - Thank you! That is very sweet!
Aunt Marcie - I wish my crew could help with Grandma's house! They need more work & it's too bad we don't have family near by (for many other reasons, too, of course!)! The older boys do some yardwork in the sumer for an older friend, so they are learning to help other people's grandparents, I guess.

M. Helseth said...

Very helpful post, Tracey! I'm like Mrs. Stephenson; I love cleaning on Monday. I didn't really plan that it just sort of fell into place. The weekend messes things up and I always try and make Mondays a day when I don't leave the house. I do bills, clean, and organize for the rest of the week. If I could just get Benjamin to begin pulling his weight, I'll be set!