Housecleaning, Like A Boss

“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.” – Phyllis Diller

I am generally the person who oversees the routine cleaning of our home.  Awhile back I had surgery which required me to be off my feet for about six weeks, however.  This meant I could do no housework at all, and once I was able to get up and moving again, we had a cleaning team come in to help get things back to par for me.

I like observing processes and learning from them, and having a team of 4 women zooming all around my home gave me the chance to ask them what they noticed that I should change to make cleaning easier and how they’d tackle some of what were my cleaning headaches at the time.  Their insight was simple but priceless.

1) Less furniture, less work. I had a bookshelf downstairs full of items inside and on top.  The team only dusted around things and said eliminating what was on top or cutting out at least half of the items (which were books we’d read and could pass on, I later realized) would allow them to clean it much more quickly.  The items on top of the bookshelf were a framed picture (which I chose to hang on the wall instead of sitting it on the unit) and a candle (which only needed to be out when it was lit, otherwise it’s now stored in a kitchen cabinet).  Within a month after following their advice I realized the shelving was entirely unnecessary and we found new homes for the few items we’d kept on display.  Eventually, we sold the unit.

2) Haphazard cleaning results in lost time.  Be intentional.  The team split into pairs; 2 ladies went upstairs, 2 went downstairs.  1 of the women on each level did deep cleaning, the other worked on dusting and vacuuming.  One woman on the team told me that choosing one room type a day (ie the kitchen or bathrooms) means you stop when you’re done and can put the cleaning tools for those tasks up and away again instead of leaving them out in plain sight “just in case” you have time later to work on a half bathroom.  (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that over the years.)

3) Don’t get distracted.  The team leader on the cleaning crew told me it’s tempting to use your cloth to wipe spots on the kitchen table or the floor if you notice them while you’re in the middle of scrubbing the kitchen sink, but doing it will lead to noticing another spot, and before you know it you’re working in the living room and the kitchen sink is only half clean.  Good advice!  Women especially love to multi-task, but we gain worse returns for our efforts when we divide our attention.

While these women cleaned my home top to bottom, I could tell they had a realistic approach because they don’t generally have a whole crew in their homes just like probably isn’t typical for you or me.  The team leader made a good point by noting it’s better to have a fully clean bathroom than a half clean entryway.  When we can finish one room we’re free to move on to another or wait for the next day, but it means our minds know we’ve completed a task and distraction doesn’t win out.

Apart from admitting having a spotless house isn’t likely (or even of great value), I think the other key element of keeping a clean-enough home is recruiting my kids to help my husband and me stay on top of things.

What have you tried to make housecleaning less difficult?  We’d love to learn your tips!  Share them in the comments.


One Response to “Housecleaning, Like A Boss”

  1. Katherine August 6, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    To add to your quote…”cleaning while your children are still growing is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos.” :)

    I’ve tried, and had success, with cleaning one room each day. It’s hard to stay on top of with young children and summer vacations, but I like it when it “clicks!”

    I’m also trying to teach said young children (2 & 4) to help with cleaning. That takes me more time & energy right now but will have a huge ROI in 5 or 6 years — maybe sooner!

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