Running a house is incredibly complicated, with myriad details to constantly track. Add the kids, the homeschooling, and personal/family/commnity pursuits to that and it’s a wonder my head doesn’t blow off.
One thing I found very effective in our last home was to organize my chores by day. I got the idea from Laura Ingalls Wilder, who washed on Monday, ironed on Tuesday, and so on. The first time I tested it out, it really worked. The system was derailed occasionally, but whenever I could pull it together, knowing what I had to get done each day really helped me get it done so that I could do other stuff.
Here’s how I make a Housekeeping Schedule:
Step One – Walk around the house, thinking about each room, each chore, what you like about cleaning and what you dislike. How clean do you need each room to be to feel comfortable versus how clean would you love to have it be, if you had all the time in the world? Make lists.
Step Two – Pull out your weekly schedule. Note which days are busier than others and which days you will not be at home as much. Note when you usually go grocery shopping, when dinner runs late, or any other weekly details that rock your world.
Step Three – Start assigning chores to days. I break mine down room by room, tackling one room each day. This works for me because my house is small, and in a couple of places I combine rooms (bedroom & hall, etc.).Move the chores around the week, envisioning when in the day you will do the chore, who will help you – if anyone – what it looks like if the chore gets missed that day, what might get in the way of completing that chore, and so on.
Step Four – Find a way to display your new schedule for yourself. Write it on a white board, put it in your calendar or phone, put it somewhere that you can refer to easily.
I added some new steps this time around, to make it more sustainable. I divided my chore list per room into two different headings – the bare minimum of what I need to get done to keep the room livable and what I would ultimately like to get accomplished. For example, I need to at least clean the old food out of the refrigerator each week, but I would really like to wipe it clean if I have time. I can choose to do the minimum, do one thing from the ultimate list, or go for the gold and really do it all, depending on the day.
The other thing I did differently was how I formatted it. Usually I just note it up on the white board – which room, which day – and try to keep track of it. This time, since I had put the time in to figure out what was “good enough” and how much more I would ultimately like to do, I decided to make it a little more formal. I typed up the list for each room and printed them out. Then I covered them in clear tape and put magnets on the back. Each day is its own magnet, so I can rearrange them when necessary. They stick to my white board, so I can make notes around them if I need to.
I can add specifics for the day (“Order flea stuff”) and check in with the dinner menu which I write above .
What I find when I do this is that I can let a lot more go each day because I know when I’m going to do the chore. Laundry all over the kids room? It will get picked up on Tuesday, so I don’t have to sweat it on Friday. If I miss a week, I know I have missed only one week – I don’t have to search my mind for the last time I think I cleaned the bathroom or washed the kitchen floor. If I don’t dust this week, I can prioritize it the following week.
I add extra chores (like frequent living room pick ups or watering the plants) in bold at the bottom of the list. I try to keep the Kitchen Day on the day before we grocery shop, so I can have a cleaned out fridge to put the groceries into when I get home, as well as knowing what is in the fridge when I am at the grocery store. I don’t have the daily chores (laundry, cleaning the kitchen, parenting tasks, etc.) on the schedule. I try to keep this specifically for general house upkeep. The other tasks find their time on other “To Do” lists.
That’s what it looks like – my schedule of the week. And speaking of the schedule, I think it is time to go clean the living room and mop the floor!