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
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
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
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,