Over the last year or so I've tried to apply structure to being at home all the time. When I was working and going to school I had daily and weekly schedules set for me by either the university, the agency, whatever, but now no one tells me when and where. No one tells me when to do the dishes, the laundry, clean, run errands, make dinner, pay the bills, rest, wash myself, or eat. It's just me. And a 15 month old who likes to chew on leaves and would play with dog poo if I let him. And a 37 year old who hates having to tell me when he'll make it home from the office.
I miss the structure set for me by others quite honestly. I knew where I was in the space-time continuum, so to speak. I knew that I had X amount of time before I left the house to do X chore, I knew I had 30 minutes to eat at 1 pm, I knew I'd miss dinner with Anthony every Thursday because I had late appointments, I knew that weekends would be spent mostly cleaning and organizing for the coming week.
With a baby it's all willy nilly. Ostensibly, I have all the time in the world to do whatever I want, right? Well, wrong. With the introduction of Hollis into our lives what seems feasible never really is. Instead of having 12-14 hours a day to cook, clean, fold laundry, gas up the car, and write correspondences on beautiful, shiny stationary I bought at Barnes & Noble, I feel like I have about 4 1/2 minutes. Three and a half if you count the minute I have to shower and get dressed.
Where the hell does all the time go?? I haven't a fucking clue. I almost had MORE time when I was leaving the house every day because it gave me less time to do things - like when you manage to clean the entire house and do everything on your To Do List when company is coming, but you can't manage to pull it together just for yourself.
Well, this was pretty much how I felt for about 9 of the last 15 months, then Hollis started napping regularly and I was able to mold my day (and expectations) around those naps. I read Little House on the Prairie when I was pregnant and marveled at all the things Ma could accomplish in a week with her bare hands, a bucket, and a needle and thread. She had the days divvied up into certain tasks: Monday was washday, Tuesday mending day, Wednesday mopping day, or whatever. She imposed her own work-week schedule.
For the last 5 months or so I made Thursday or Friday my Cleaning Day so that I could take the weekend "off" like Anthony did from his office job. I wouldn't like it if he worked on the weekends and so I wanted to have a similar expectation of myself. I also try to stop working once dinner is finished and cleaned up. That's time for reading, watching movies, or, if a chore still needs doing, Anthony and I do it together. Wednesdays became my Wash Days, although I still haven't figured out a good Fold Day, yet, seeing how my love seat in the bedroom is moonlighting as a laundry basket right now (pfft - fucking laundry!). And it's been working great. I feel a lot better than I did when I was all over the place. I know what I can reasonably expect from myself during my work week.
Of course, as I'm wont to do, having said all of this I have found something new that I'm giving a try. Real Simple sent me a flyer for their magazine with an insert about speed cleaning. Always one to try to do things more efficiently, especially since I can't always clean the whole house during one nap time, I checked it out and it's really cool! I'm not a deep cleaning type anyway, so this is really perfect for me and now my Friday is Mop Day and Monday and Thursday are Speed Clean Day!
The thing is, Real Simple has it broken down to about 19 minutes (real time about 30) to clean an entire house (minus mopping floors) and I love that! That really does leave me time to write correspondence on my Barnes & Noble stationary, read cookbooks, shower at a leisurely pace, or blog during play times or naps.
- Wait a minute - I sound like an idiot, don't I? What I'm trying to say is just seeing things written down, scheduled out for me, if you will, helps me feel anchored and less chaotic. If there's one thing I've learned from this whole motherhood thing it's that I only have myself to answer to. Hollis doesn't care if the house is a mess, Anthony doesn't care if dinner's hot and ready or if the bed's made, but I do. I care because then they don't have to and we can all focus on other things. Like hanging out and laughing and having fun.
So if you're looking for a little stability or structure in your life I recommend using this Speed Cleaning Guide and applying a little bit of Ma's old-time one-task-a-day work ethic to your chores. You might be surprised at how much easier it all seems.
Let Gravity work for you. Dust from top to bottom, and save the vacuuming for last.
- Pick up crumbs and dust bunnies with a handheld vacuum (1 minute)
- Fluff cushions and fold throws after use (2 minutes)
- Wipe tabletops and spot-clean cavinets when you see fingerprints (1 minute)
- Straighten coffee-table books and magazines. Throw out newspapers. Put away CDs and DVDs (2 minutes)
4 1/2 minutes
In the time it takes to brew a pot of coffee, you can get through your everyday list.
- Always start with the sink. Wipe down after doing the dishes or loading the dishwasher (30 seconds)
- Wipe down the stove top (1 minute)
- Wipe down the counters (1 minute)
- Sweep, Swiffer, or vacuum the floor (2 minutes)
- Wipe out the sink (30 seconds)
- Wipe the toilet seat and rim (15 seconds)
- Swoosh the toilet bowl with a brush (15 seconds)
- Wipe the mirror and faucet (15 seconds)
- Squeegee the shower door (30 seconds)
- Spray the entire shower and curtain liner with shower mist (15 seconds)
6 1/2 minutes
Make your bed right before or after your monring shower. A neat bed will inspire you.
- Make the bed (2 minutes)
- Fold or hang clothing and put away jewelry (4 minutes)
- Straighten out eh night table surface (30 seconds)