I have had a cleaning lady on and off for about 5 years now. I first got one to help me out in the final months of my pregnancy with my 3rd child and then for a few months after. But it was so convenient and helpful that a few months turned into a few years. And I felt good about it because my cleaning lady was my sister, and she needed to make money for college and a mission.
But since I am trying to be thrifty this year, it was time to lay-off my cleaning lady. (Wah! Right? I know you are all feeling so bad for me.) Turns out my sister hated cleaning my house anyway. So the lay off wasn’t awkward or anything. But it is a challenge to go back to cleaning your home when you have had help for 5 years.
It’s a good thing, I love challenges.
I talked to a few friends and read a couple of books and decided to come up with a cleaning schedule. Now before you free spirits shut down on me let me try to reason with you.
WHY A SCHEDULE?
Simply put, if you have a schedule, you get to be done. You mop on Monday and you are done for the day, or you clean your whole house on Thursday and you are done for the week. Otherwise, “I should clean” or “I could clean” looms over your head every day of every week. And there is less guilt. I don’t feel guilty that the floor needs to be mopped on Saturday because I know I will get to it on Monday.
A DAILY OR WEEKLY SCHEDULE?
First, I debated between cleaning a little every day or knocking it all out once a week. After much thought and discussion, I decided to go with cleaning a little every day. Here is my reasoning behind that decision:
I don’t have large blocks of time as a mom of young children, but I can usually find 15 minutes here and there. So I prefer small doable tasks each day.
Also, if I cleaned all on one day what if something came up that day like a school field trip or a sick day or a birthday. Then I wouldn’t be cleaning for another week and the house would be that much messier. It is much easier to reschedule 30 minutes than 3 hours. When you clean a bit every day, the house is never fully clean, but it is never fully messy either, and you can afford to skip a day here and there if something comes up.
Now that I have convinced you to have a schedule, let me give you some tips to get started.
HOW TO MAKE A CLEANING SCHEDULE?
First, write down all the tasks you would like to realistically get down in a week. I didn’t write down the daily stuff like sweeping and emptying the dishwasher and picking up clutter because that gets done already (during my house timeblock- I will write about this is another post.) I only wrote down tasks that need to be done on a weekly basis.
Second, delegate a few jobs. My husband is in charge of our shower. He can clean it whenever he wants, but it is his baby. Elle has the downstairs bathroom on Saturday. And everyday, the kids each have a different job that they do as well. Delegation helps lighten moms’ loads.
Third, assign the remaining tasks to certain days of the week. Work with your schedule to make things as natural or as simple as possible. For example, I bathe my kids on Tuesday so I like to clean bathrooms on Tuesday because I am already in the bathroom anyway watching the little guys. I also like to do the heavier jobs like mopping and tubs just after I exercise because I have a mental block about cleaning after I am showered and dressed, so I scheduled those tasks after exercise.
If you opt for cleaning just once a week, make sure you are diligent about not scheduling appointments and errands on your cleaning day. Just get in the habit of keeping one morning or afternoon devoted to cleaning.
Fourth, schedule with the natural flow of your week and your natural tendencies. I tend to have more energy and drive at the beginning of the week and I fizzle out in the middle of the week, so I scheduled my harder tasks for Monday and Tuesday. Then I take a day off to regroup and hit it strong again at the end of the week. This works for me, but maybe you hate Mondays and can’t face cleaning that day. That’s fine- don’t schedule any tasks for Monday. Or maybe Friday is a play day for you. Leave Fridays for fun.
Fifth, test out your schedule for a week or two and then adjust. I initially scheduled clean tubs on Tuesday because that is when I was cleaning the bathrooms, but I found myself wanting to clean them when I was mopping (on Monday) because I was already on my hands and knees. So I adjusted. Also, I moved jobs off of Wednesday because week after week, I was getting nothing done that day.
Sixth, be flexible and cut yourself some slack. Last week my week went smoothly and I cleaned every day right on schedule. And I did a really thorough job. This week I did not get to mopping or bathrooms on their scheduled days, but I am not worried about it because the house was cleaned last week and there is always next week.
Here is my current cleaning schedule:
MONDAY- do laundry; wipe down washer and dryer; mop floors- kitchen, entryway, bathrooms, laundry room
Yes, I do all my laundry in one day. Sometimes I mop all the floors and sometimes I skip a week or alternate the kitchen and entryway with the bathrooms.
TUESDAY- put away laundry; clean bathroom sinks, toilets, and mirrors; clean other mirrors; vacuum upstairs
I figure the glass cleaner is already out so I might as well keep going. It works really well for me to clean bathrooms while my kids are in the tub. And I like to vacuum after all the clothes get put away.
WEDNESDAY- free day
I use this day to catch up on Monday or Tuesday or get ahead for Thursday or Friday or work on deeper cleaning projects or take a break. It is nice to have an unscheduled day.
THURSDAY- vacuum the entire house from top to bottom including stairs
FRIDAY- kitchen: scrub sink, wash appliances, rotate through other tasks
I rotate jobs like clean out microwave, refrigerator, oven, etc. I have a kitchen list in my cupboard that I reference and I clean whatever I feel like that day. I don’t do everything on the list. It is just there to give me ideas.
SATURDAY- change sheets; deeper cleaning; monitor kids as they clean bathrooms and vacuum and do other chores around the house
SUNDAY- day of rest (haha)
I have been on my own for a few months now and this cleaning schedule is working well for me so far. Some weeks are better than others. Although I miss my cleaning lady, think of all the money I have saved by doing it myself.