Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 Obstacles to a Clean Home & How to Overcome Them

Welcome back! This week we're finishing our Women Living Well book club. We read chapters  19-20 & the conclusion. These 3 chapters inspired a bit of spring fever in me to tackle some dark corners of my house. But it seems there are so many reasons why I avoid doing this!  I hope this inspires you to join me in a bit of fresh spring cleaning around your house!

5 Obstacles to a Clean Home and How to Overcome Them

1950’s housewife had long hard days. She didn’t throw her laundry in the machine, set it to large load and go on with other chores. She didn’t throw the clothing into the dryer on permanent press cycle. She didn’t load the dishwasher after dinner. No, house work used to be a full contact sport and we, my friends, have it easy now.

But we tend to whine when the floors need vacuumed. Or feel like a martyr when no one has clean clothes left and we are forced to do the laundry. We put off doing dishes until they have taken over the kitchen, and we wait as long as possible to clean the bathroom – if we ever get to it! 

Why do we do this? We are blessed women. We have so many things that make house work easier. Yet we still try to avoid it. I’m not saying a house needs to be kept spotless, that is not a reality. But I do think it is our job to keep it neat and clean. Make it a place that is nice and comfortable to live in. Make it a home.

How do you care for your home? Do you clean a bit every day or let it build up until your family is leaving you notes in the dust? Do you keep up with the laundry or avoid it until there is no clean underwear in the house? Do you clean with a thankful heart or grumble and complain each time?

It often seems like I don’t have time to keep up with house chores. I do believe some women have packed their lives way too full and this possibly is true. But, for the rest of us, I think this is merely an excuse. Let’s be honest. We have time to Pinterest. Time to Facebook. Time to watch Downtown Abbey. I’m guilty right here with you, dear. I have time, you have time. Yes, we do indeed have time; we just choose to use it in other ways.

What is our problem? Why don’t we just do the work that needs to be done? It’s not a good feeling having chores hanging over our heads, knowing that they are getting bigger each day while we ignore them. We really do want a neat home. We do enjoy a clean kitchen without dirty dishes piled high. We like the feeling of all the laundry done and put away. And showering in a clean shower – so much more relaxing than lathering up in a grimy one! So why don’t we just do it?

5 Obstacles to A Clean Home & How to Overcome Them

1. Time.  You may not have an hour or two to clean up the house, neither do I.  I have minutes in my day, but I don’t have an extra hour or more to give up.  So I have to use the time I do have. Have 10 minutes before going to work? Tackle the dishes in the sink. 15 min before an appointment? Empty the dishwasher. Or throw a load in the washer. Or fold a load of clothes. Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier than normal each morning. Then use those 10 min to clean the toilet, sink and mirror. There are many tasks that take only minutes. Using your minutes gets the task be done and off the list for today! Ta-Da! What a good feeling!

2. Schedule.   Without a schedule, things can get pretty cruddy before I even notice and then the chore requires a lot of elbow grease to come clean. I don’t like to use elbow grease. I’m a wimp. And I don’t want to chisel away at the soap scum in the shower for 45 minutes. I want to be done in 10, so I clean my shower and tub every Friday night before I hop out of the shower. It takes me less than 10 minutes, its easy to clean because nothing has built up and my shower always looks clean. I don’t loathe cleaning the shower anymore. Creating a schedule for your home will help you stay ahead of housework and get it done while it is still in the easy-to-handle phase. There are many books and blogs out there that have excellent ideas. When I was 12, I read “Sidetracked Home Executives” and put my sister-in-law’s house on a card file schedule for cleaning. I learned so much from that book and how daily maintenance can keep chores from piling up, which makes less work. Work smart, not hard. Oh, ya!

3. Organization. An unorganized and over-stuffed house can leave me feeling overwhelmed. I don’t even know where to start and it is easier to close the door and walk away. “Everything in its place” is a good rule of thumb to keep your house clutter free. But first everything needs a place. Clean out your overstuffed closets, crooks and crannies. (A project that looms ahead of me this year.) Create a place for each item. Get rid of the things you don’t have room for or you no longer need. If this idea has you breaking out in hives, hire someone to come in or enlist a friend to help. You can do it- start with one step at a time and keep going.

4. Priorities. Truth be told, many times we just put many other things above caring for our home. Our homes should be a priority. Not the priority, but a priority. There are lots of other things you do each day that are more important, but don’t forget to put your home in there with your priorities.  I have to write “vacuum” or “bathrooms” on my to-do list or those tasks get lost in the sea of other things that need my attention. A perfect, spotless home is not the goal, but a neat clean one is. It won’t stay that way with a family living in it, but by using your little bits of time – 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there, 5 minutes or so- you will be able to keep up on the mess.

5. Family. Our families can make it difficult to keep a home neat. Mud tracked in… school papers on the counter…coats on the couch…dirty dishes left on the coffee table… Enlist their help in your goal to have a neat home. Teaching your kids to be neat is a good character quality that will help them long into adulthood. Have a total toy pick up before lunch, supper and bed. Teach them to put things away. Teach them to help with household chores and the importance of caring for their home. A 4 year old can match socks out of the dryer and put them on the beds in the right rooms. A 2 year old can put the silverware from the dishwasher into the drawer. A 6 year old can wash bathroom counters and sweep the floor. Look for ways to involve your kids. They will acquire valuable skills and develop a work ethic they will use the rest of their lives.

With spring approaching (It is going to show up, isn’t it?) and the newness to life brings, now is a good time to give your home a makeover to match that fresh spring air.  What tips and tricks do you use to help you stay on track with your home? I’d love to hear your ideas – leave a comment!

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