This post is mainly me trying to organize my thoughts on household organization! I'm finding a rhythm that seems to be working most days, and at least gives me a framework so that if I get off track I know where I can get back on.
A few weeks ago I worked out a housekeeping plan for the different days of the week, sort of like the old "Wash on Monday" idea. The hope is that this cycle will keep me on top of most of the major areas, with room to adjust as necessary. So far, so good. This is what it looks like:
General tidy after the weekend
Budgeting & online banking
Grocery list & menu plan for the week
Catch up on emails/letters
Mop kitchen & dining room floors (which means those rooms have to be cleaned first!)
Bedrooms (tidy, dust, fresh sheets, etc.)
This is my brilliant idea to give myself a day midweek to catch up on what I've missed, tackle a project, or just take a day off!
Organize (anything from paperwork to cutlery drawers)
A light day since I'm in town for work at least half the day
General tidy before the weekend
A heavier day, but I'd rather do it Friday and have more time on Saturday for...
Projects! (painting, renovation, outdoor stuff, deep cleaning, trips to the seaside)
That is the weekly rhythm. Now as far as the daily rhythm goes, I am finding it beneficial to focus on 2 things: meals/meal cleanup and laundry. (As my sister pointed out to me the other day, these are the things which actually multiply if left undone! So it's best to keep on top of them.)
Planning, shopping for and executing healthy, economical meals (with Arden involved of course!) actually takes up quite a lot of time! Having a menu for the week really helps. I don't always plan which meal will be on which day, but I have a list of 5 suppers to work with for the week, and usually pick whatever I feel like or have the time to make on that day. Lunches are hardest for me, so I try to think of options in advance so we don't just have toast. Though some days we do.
This really is least painful if done right away, and I just have to make myself do it (though I have already spent a bunch of time in the kitchen and have a thousand other things I'd like to do), which does not come naturally to me. But I have been trying to do the clean-up right after the meal in question. I have a little system I've developed, which is probably rather obvious and/or quite uninteresting to you, but makes things just right for me.
I start in the dining room. I clear the table and bring everything into the kitchen, but I don't do anything with it yet! I wipe down the table, wipe down Arden's chair, sweep/wipe the floor, and put everything back in order. Then I have one room that's all clean and tidy and ready for the next part of the day or the next morning, and I can turn my back on it and turn my attention to the kitchen. Only after the dining room is done I go to work there, putting away the food, loading the dishwasher, doing the other dishes, scrubbing the sinks, wiping down counters and stovetop and sweeping the floor. I try to do this after lunch as well, including the non-dishwasher dishes, so when the time comes to make supper, I don't have to fight through half a day's mess before I can even begin.
The day seems to go by much better, and I feel like I have a clean conscience, if I stay on top of this!
I do this as necessary, taking advantage of sunny days as much as possible to hang things on the line. Laundry rarely overwhelms me, at least at this stage of our family. Only it can be depressing with multiple damps days in a row, when the dining room is transformed into a Chinese laundry, or the dryer is eating up electricity.
We're still using cloth diapers, so I've got a load of those going every day or two.
Oh, and I suppose there's another thing I do daily, and that's keep the living room liveable. The living room is the only "baby-proof" room that we can corral Arden in, so it goes through a daily cycle of toys and things strewn about. At the end of most days, after Arden's bedtime, I pick up all the toys and books and sweep the floor. Arden's toys and books live happily in one corner. The coffee table, which is turned on its side throughout the day to block access to the TV and all its wires, is flipped back up the right way, and I try to make the room seem like an adult living room again, if only for a few hours!
Bedrooms. When Arden is awake and downstairs, I'm downstairs with her. When she's upstairs sleeping, it's hard to do cleaning (involving vacuuming and the like) in our room, and certainly not in hers! So they tend to be the forgotten rooms, at least till I'm ready to go to bed, and then the pile of clothes on the end of the bed just gets shoved onto the floor!
Projects. I know I only have one child, and many people do much more with many more children, but I do find it hard to devote a lot of time to something project-like, without the normal housekeeping stuff suffering. Renovation stuff, like prepping a room for painting, finishing the bathroom trim, hemming the curtains, or even tackling a few of the rooms in the house that have still yet to be truly organized and put together, just seems to take over everything else. Part of it is a mental thing, I am sure. I just have to decide one day that I will do one of these things, and devote all of Arden's nap time or my evening to just getting that one thing done. And sometimes I can do it! Frozen pizza always helps in such situations. :)
Overcoming initial inertia. (Did you know that inertia is from the Latin iners, meaning idle or lazy??) Yes, somedays I am lazy. And the longer I'm lazy, the longer I'm lazy, if you know what I mean. If I've already wasted half an hour looking up random things on Wikipedia, then it's just natural that I waste another hour doing something equally interesting, but not at all something that pushes me toward my goals of what I want to do that day and what I want our home to become like. Sure, lots of things are well and good and interesting and useful, but are they fitting? Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial, as someone very wise once said. Sometimes I just need to jump up and get going already.
And then, on the other hand, there are things which I love to do and feel are part of my journey toward my goals as a person and mother and homemaker and minister, such as reading, writing, journaling, studying, praying and just thinking. I'm a contemplative person by nature. I'm not one of those boundless get-up-and-go sorts who have to be moving to be living. If faced with the choice of mopping the floor or reading a book, who wouldn't choose the book?? So it's finding the balance, being able to relax and say, "Who cares if my house is not spotless when there is theology to ponder?" and and being responsible to steward the home I have been given.
So there you have it, a long drawn out description of my housekeeping!