Monday, March 10, 2014

How to Make Your Own Housekeeping List

Last month, I blogged about my housekeeping list, and mentioned that it had evolved over the years.

What if you’re just at the start of figuring this out? What if you don't know where to start in making your own list? No shame in that: I think a lot of us hit adulthood realizing that day-to-day stuff is more complicated than we thought. You can have the very best of parents, and still you’ll stumble across the odd gap here and there in your knowledge of how to run a home.

Moreover, most of us end up in homes that look different than the homes of our childhood. Maybe you grew up in a suburban house, and end up in a city apartment. Or maybe you grew up in a log cabin in the sub-Arctic and end up in a Southern California condo. (Just to pick a not-at-all random example!)

So here’s my advice for starting your own housekeeping to-do list. This won’t make everything run perfectly right away, but I think it’ll get you well started in the right direction.

Step 1: Take Notes
Don’t change anything the first week. Just write down what you actually do. Do you do the dishes once a night? Do you let the pile up and tackle them all every few days? Write it down.

Step 2: Evaluate
After you’ve got your little journal of your weekly chore-doing, study it. What works? Is your kitchen always clean because you’ve got a habit of cleaning up after every meal? Awesome! Write down “clean up after every meal” on your new chore list. Don’t change what’s working.

What about what’s not? Is the floor crunchy because your once-a-week sweeping isn’t cutting it? Okay. Don’t feel badly, and don’t panic. Just tweak it. Write down “sweep floor twice weekly”. Then do that for a week. At the end of the second week, evaluate. Was that enough? If so, that’s what stays on your list. Not enough? Make it three times. Try again. Evaluate. Wash, rinse, and repeat for all of your chores.

Final step of evaluation: what are you not doing at all? There’s bound to be something, and these can take longer to notice. But as you get into a rhythm, eventually you’ll look up and think, “Huh. I think my windows might need washing every eon or so.” Put it on the list.

Step 3: Just Do It
Once you’ve spent a few weeks getting a list that more or less works, just live it. Follow the list, check stuff off. None of this works unless you actually do the work. But if you do, you’ll have a clean house! And, honestly, that’s worth a lot more than a lot of us admit. It’s sanity-inducing, it honestly is.

A Few Notes
Did my example of only sweeping once a week make you wince? Yeah, me too. But that’s because I have four kids, a cat, and a dog. I sweep ALL THE TIME. When there was just me and my husband? Once a week honestly might have been more than plenty.

And that’s my point: your list isn’t going to look like anyone else’s. Your list might not even look like your-list-last-year.

This sort of thing takes two things: constant tweaking in concept and constant diligence in actually doing the work.

Those two things – the flexibility and the consistency – seem opposed, but they actually work together beautifully. You need both.

Also? I’m totally preaching to myself here. Don’t come over to my house and throw tomatoes! I do struggle and have struggled with this. Why do you think I have so much to say about it? :D  It does not come easily or naturally to me, not at all.

But it’s important to me, because I’m happier when my house is clean. And my family is happier. And we can actually do stuff in our home, which is hugely important to me. I want room and space for all the craft projects that we do, and the games my kids play, and those long homework sessions, and those long but-so-much-more-enjoyable read-aloud sessions, and those meals together, and those movie nights with friends, and . . . . and, and, and.

Just all the stuff. I want it all. But when my house is messy (and guys, seriously, it has been messy so many times), I feel grumpy and I don’t want to do anything.

So, yeah. Totally preaching to myself. Not lecturing at you. Reminding myself why it’s worth it.

But if you get any good out of me lecturing myself, well, that’s not just the icing on the cake, it’s the sugar sprinkles, nonpareils, and candles, too. :D

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell

No comments: