Monthly Clean Home Challenge

Welcome to the month of March!  I always try to start thinking spring like thoughts in March, however, with four plus feet of snow still on the ground it can be a bit challenging at times.  How is the weather where you are?  Does it have you wanting to open your windows and get into the Spring Cleaning groove?

One of the areas in my life that I really wanted to focus on this year is balance.  How to best juggle my daily tasks; time as a mom, time as a wife, time to take care of myself, time for work and time for play.  I have been doing a lot of reflecting on what matters to me in terms of how my time is spent, and often times left wondering how I can scale back on things to make more time for enjoying this beautiful life.

Last month, I decided to dissect my cleaning routine.  Do I take our home too seriously?  Are we doing more than necessary?

The first step was defining what was acceptable to me?  I basically want a home that is simple to maintain and keeps a presentable appearance for ourselves first {a clean and organized home should translate to a less stressful environment} and our company second.  Meaning we are the reason for the clean house, not to impress anyone that should stop by.

I have always loved to clean, I find it gives me an appreciation for our home and this amazing energy when I accomplish a few tasks.  But on a scale of loves, time with my family ranks even higher.  And let's face it, our cleaning plan works pretty good when we stick to it and have the time to do it.  I have never been a huge stickler over it, and if we miss days it doesn't stress me out.  But what does stress me out is when life gets so busy that our tasks are thrown to the wayside to the point of a snowballing effect and hours spent on a weekend trying to make up for it.  Binge cleaning sessions give me a case of the yucks.

How can I get a clean and happier home in less time?

It got me thinking.  What are the very basics that need to be done to keep our home clean enough?  How could I spread a few of my weekly tasks out to monthly and build the quarterly/semi-annual tasks in as well?  How about taking time to purge and cut clutter?  How could I be sure that we don't have to waste a half of a weekend day cleaning and making up for a busy week?

After some thought, here are the chores that we should be doing daily to maintain:

  1. Keep a clean kitchen:  After dinner each night, this will require us to clear the table, wash the dishes and wipe down the counters, table and stove-top.  A quick sweep up of any crumbs and sweep of the counter for any clutter piles.  Total time: 10 minutes
  2. Laundry:  Laundry can become the biggest thorn in our sides if we don't keep up with our daily chore.  We are always looking to conserve on the amount of laundry we need to do, however, being a family of five does mean it builds up quickly.  Tossing our hampers into the wash each day, and running it on the days it is full, will ensure we are only having to fold and put away one load at a time {a couple of shirts and pants and a pair of PJ's}.  We wash all of our clothes together {minus whites and linens}, so that means there is less for each person to put away each day.  Total time: 5-10 minutes
  3. Bathrooms:  From toothpaste in the sink to splatters on the mirror to life with three boys in general, our bathrooms can go from squeaky clean to just ew in .5 seconds.  A quick wipe down of the sink, mirror and floor around the toilet will keep the grossness from building each day.  And although I am cleaning for us first, guests do tend to go straight for the bathroom when they arrive, and I don't want to be shaking in my slippers wondering what they are about to find....  Total time: 1 minute/bathroom
  4. Pile Pickup:  The goal is to do a quick sweep to clear surfaces of piles and clutter and to straighten pillows and blankets from any lounge sessions.  Just the very basics to give our surfaces a blank slate to start the day the following morning.  Having a place for the daily items that tend to be problematic, is definitely helpful in the process {a basket or magnetic fridge clip for mail and papers, a system for shoes, backpacks, hats and mittens, a basket near the stairs to place items that need to be transported and a basket near the sofa for blankets and pillows}.  I place focus on our primary living areas when doing this task.  Total time: 5-10 minutes
And that is it.  It may sound like a lot, but just doing those four tasks each day will keep the house looking and feeling clean throughout our week of school, work, projects, sports and activities.

Then, once per week, there are four more chores we add in:

  1. Clean Toilets/Showers:  A quick toilet scrub and wipe down of the shower.  Quick tip, clean the shower while you shower. 
  2. Vacuum/Mop:  Run the vacuum through the entire house and a mop over any solid floors.
  3. Dust/Glass:  Run a duster over all surfaces and follow up with wood or glass cleaner
  4. Wash Linens:  We try to do our everyday clothing throughout the week, and each weekend we wash bed linens and towels.
When working together as a family, we maybe have to dedicate a total of 30-60 minutes on a weekend to do these extra chores.

Seems easy enough right?

We tried this in February and it was fabulous.  Turns out that when we work together to get these done, it goes quite quickly.  And we do what we can to multi-task while doing chores.  As I mentioned above, things like wiping down the shower while taking a shower, running the garbage/recycling out when cleaning up the kitchen, or washing and folding linens while watching a favorite show, really doesn't seem like you are doing chores at all.

But the inner clean freak in me knows that it isn't enough.  It is enough to have a clean home and maintain a decent appearance on the surface, but there are a lot of other little tasks that I like to do to go above and beyond.  Things from cleaning appliances to organizing drawers and closets to cleaning out the fridge.  

So, Mon-Fri I try to add in one more quick chore.  I made a list of chores that shouldn't take much time and things I can do while catching up on a show saved on my DVR.  Here are the chores I added to my March cleaning list {many of these chores would be the same each month, while having the option to swap a few out}:
  1. Make cleaning supplies
  2. Cycle clean appliances
  3. Clean out cars
  4. Clean out microwave
  5. Wipe down cabinets/appliances
  6. Wipe down trim/doors
  7. Clean out one drawer
  8. Clean out fridge
  9. Clean out freezer
  10. Vacuum under furniture
  11. Vacuum mattresses
  12. Clean oven
  13. Clean out one closet
  14. Wash out garbage can/recycle bin
  15. Wash windows
  16. Scrub grout
  17. Clean out one cabinet
  18. File paper piles
  19. Purge bathroom toiletries
  20. Clean out pantry

Some people may want to add all of those chores up and do them in a single day.  I personally prefer to do one per day because it still feels like I am getting a lot accomplished and frees up more time for the things I really love to do.  {A few get done while doing the daily chores, others may happen in the morning after the kids go to school or in the evenings after they go to bed.}

We gave this system a whirl in February and I looooved it!  It was not stressful, my house felt clean and I felt like I got a lot accomplished. 

Finally, I realized something about myself long ago.  What really inspires me and motivates me personally is visuals.

Do you ever watch a TV show, read a magazine or a blog post and get up right then and there to go and clean or organize something?  It happens to me all of the time! 

So I am hoping to do that this month.  Each day, I am going to pop in and share my daily task with you.  Some may be boring {vacuuming our mattress?} and others may be a bit more exciting {cleaning out a drawer}.   And if you want to join in and do it with me, that would be crazy fun. The thing I love most about this blog community is that we are always sharing tips and tricks and inspiration which one another, to continuously make our lives easier and happier.  And if you are like me in liking to plan things out, write things down and check things off, I created a free printable as well.

{click HERE to download your free Monthly Cleaning Planning sheet}

And no worries, for those that don't want to play along.  I know this schedule is not for everyone, so I will continue with many of my regular posts as well {home project updates, reader spaces and contributors}.  The daily cleaning challenge is an add-in, unless I take a drawer or closet to the next level of course. 

So who is in?  Anyone else have a similar system and how is it working for you?   What cleaning chores do you get done while multi-tasking?  Any other "shortcuts" you can share?

Pssst!  I will be back soon to share today's first daily cleaning task.  Stay tuned!  

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