I love being a homemaker. It really is my perfect job. I pretty much get to be the CEO of my own household, work as much as I want, and pick and choose which projects I want to work on, and when. I get to spend all day with my children, and spend time making my house into a home. The only drawback is that it seems my job is never finished. The laundry is never done. There will always be more meals to cook, and more floors to scrub, and no sooner will I finish cleaning something and it will start to get dirty again. Instead of allowing myself to feel overwhelmed by it, I decided to take a more proactive approach. A schedule.
Since I consider homemaking to be my "job", I try to approach it in the same manner I would approach any job. I try to do things as efficiently as possible, and try to make sure that everything that needs doing gets done. The only possible way I could do this, was to create a schedule. Before I had a schedule, I felt like I was running in circles all the time. My day was unstructured, and at the end of the week I was no further ahead than I was at the beginning. My to-do list got longer instead of shorter. Clutter was coming into my house faster than it was going out, so I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere. I was always afraid that someone might drop by, because my house was rarely company-ready. I always felt guilty doing anything fun, because I felt like I should be cleaning instead.
Before we had kids, it was easy enough to keep up with the housework. First of all, it just didn't get that dirty. And when it did, I would just take a whole day (or two), and clean it from top to bottom. And it would actually stay that way for awhile.
Then the children came. Time was a luxury I no longer had. Spending an entire day cleaning was no longer an option. My only choice was to break things down into manageable pieces, and do a little each day. Since housework is never really "done" anyway, at least this way I knew that everything would get cleaned on a fairly regular schedule. This also freed me of the feelings of guilt when we decide to do something fun! As long as our chores for the day are finished, we are free to do whatever we want. :)
The tricky part has been designing a schedule that works for us. I started by making a list of all the chores that needed to be done. I then broke them down into daily, weekly, seasonal, and one-time tasks. Once that was done, I had to figure out how I would work everything in.
Today I'm going to post about my weekly schedule. These are the recurring tasks that need to be done on a fairly regular basis, and somehow need to fit into a regular day!
I tried the task-a-day approach. You know, laundry on Mondays, dusting on Tuesdays, vacuuming on Wednesdays, etc. This was the type of schedule that I had read the most about, and seemed to work for a lot of people. It also seemed the most efficient, since I would only have to haul the vacuum out one day a week, and all laundry would be consolidated to one day, etc. However, what I didn't like about it was that it still didn't give me the opportunity to focus on a particular area of the house. It might be cleaned and dusted, but other things would get neglected - like making sure drawers and cupboards were organized, etc. Also, I hated...HATED...folding mounds and mounds of laundry in one day. I much prefer to wash, dry, fold, and put away one or two loads of laundry each day. It also allows me to take full advantage of the clothes line in warmer weather, since it pretty much takes an entire day to dry a load of laundry on the line. I was also finding it really difficult to fit the cleaning into my daily schedule. The kids didn't really like following me around the house while I cleaned, especially when they were babies. They mostly just screamed while I frantically tried to get things done.
I had a brief relapse, and returned to the clean-the-whole-house-in-one-day approach. I would wait until Saturday, when my husband was home to watch the kids, and clean the whole house from top to bottom. While it was nice to get it all done at once, I found it to be too much work for one day. It was exhausting, and I was bitter that I didn't get to hang out with my family on one of the only days my husband was home. Also, I wasn't really doing a good job - I was basically trying to get everything done as quickly as possible, and it didn't give me a chance to do any deep-cleaning tasks. Also, there were things around the house that my husband wanted to be able to get done on the week-ends, but he couldn't, because he had to watch the kids so I could clean. This didn't really seem fair, since I was home all week. Obviously, this method wasn't working, so I had to find a different approach.
So ultimately, the approach I have settled on is Zone Cleaning. I divided my house into 5 zones, and tackle one zone each day of the week. Whatever needs doing in that particular zone, I do it. For instance, I do bedrooms on Mondays. I strip the beds, dust, vacuum, and put away stray items. I then like to choose one additional task - clean out a drawer, re-arrange things, etc. I generally spend about 15 minutes working on the extra task. Overall, I spend about an hour each day working in a particular zone. So that's a total of 5 hours a week on cleaning. I like viewing the Zone as an entity - and focusing on the entire space, rather than just a task - like vacuuming. By doing it this way, I feel like each area of the house gets attention on a regular basis, and the whole house stays reasonably clean. I am no longer worried that somebody might drop by - in fact, I find myself wishing somebody would! Also, the kids can hang out with me while I'm working in a particular zone. As long as I bring a few toys, Owen is quite happy to hang out, and Norah is old enough now that she likes to help! I use only non-toxic, natural cleaners, so she's quite happy with a spray bottle and a cloth.
So for now, my weekly schedule looks like this:
Monday - Bedrooms
Tuesday - Bathroom
Wednesday - Upstairs hall/stairs/entryway
Thursday - Living room
Friday - Kitchen & laundry room
Saturday - Shopping & errands
Sunday - Family Day
While this might seem rather constricting to some of you, I actually find it very freeing! I know that when my zone is finished, I'm done cleaning for the day, and can spend time doing more important things - like hanging out with my kids. :)
Later I'll come back and post on my other schedules: My daily schedule, my monthly schedule, and my seasonal/yearly schedule, and how I manage one-time tasks, and scheduled tasks (appointments, etc.).
Do you have a weekly schedule? I'd love to hear about it! Feel free to post your schedule in the comments. :)