Sunday, September 07, 2008

Keeping Casa de Phillips Clean (and other mysteries solved...)

Is it really Sunday afternoon, I ask you? Because my weekend FLEW by in such a blur I think it might possibly still be Friday morning and my feet are just now touching the floor after a night's rest. This weekend has been a whirl of working a huge consignment sale, shopping a consignment sale, doing my grocery shopping (a big task since I now do it once every two weeks), dinner out with the husband (WONDERFUL!), church, and a long Sunday nap. Such flurry of excitement and fun, but quite the whirlwind. Last night I returned home from shopping the consignment sale (upcoming post) and was changing to head to eat with Tobe. Isaac came into my room and inquired as to why I possibly needed to put on a dress as opposed to wearing the shirt and shorts I had been sporting. He then went into the kitchen and asked Tobe, "Is Mommy going somewhere again?" Oh the guilt trips of a three year old.

Now that the whirlwind is slowing down, let me share the basic cleaning principles of casa de phillips. These are not renowned nor will they likely meet up to Martha Stewart's idea of a clean house, but they work for us. Enjoy!


Don't you love how television commercials portray the "average" American woman, happily vacuuming her carpets with her pressed khaki's on and a smile plastered across her freshly powdered face? Such a portrayal, with its cheer and perfectly coiffed hair, is far from the actual reality of today's mom standing in pair of faded yoga pants surrounded by dust, chaos, and dirty dishes wondering how she alone is supposed to conquer the pit that is her home.

Rather than allowing the eternal, daunting task of cleaning one's home bring me down I devised a plan on how to stay on top of clutter and how to clean in small portions of time which allows me the freedom of living in a clean home without being a slave to chores.

In order to achieve such freedom from cleaning, one must ask two questions of himself:

1. What kind of clean exactly am I looking for? (Meaning, how clean do you personally need your house to be in order to have a happy, peaceful existence inside its walls? Different people need different levels of clean. I am not suggesting one to be happy living in complete refuse, however not everyone needs to strive for a home straight from the pages of Better Homes and Gardens.)

2. Which household members are responsible for which household chores? (Everyone in the house...regardless of gender or age...need to be contributing to the up-keep of the house. When everyone contributes something, keeping a house clean does not seem like such a lonely and huge task. In our home, Tobe is responsible for laundry, yard work, ironing his clothes, and finances. I am responsible for cleaning, vacuuming, ironing my clothes, loading/unloading dishwasher, making beds, washing linens, and cooking. Isaac is responsible for picking up his toys, taking his dishes to the sink, and putting dirty clothes in his laundry basket. Evelyn is responsible for assisting in putting toys away. We all are responsible for putting away our things and tiding up at the end of the day.)

After these questions have been asked, chores have been delegated, and everyone agrees on the degree of clean they desire for their house, a cleaning schedule needs to be devised. A cleaning schedule is a plan for what things are going to be cleaned each day/week/month in order to keep a home nice and tidy.

Our cleaning schedule looks like this:

Daily Tasks:

*Wipe down all hard surfaces (kitchen and bathroom counter tops and table)

*Make beds

*Straighten and clean up toys (more about that later)

*Load and Unload dishwasher as needed (I HATE dirty dishes in the sink)

*Sweep (Our children generate enough crumbs to feed a small nation)

*Tidy up kitchen after each meal


Sunday: Laundry. Tobe washes, dries, and folds. I put away. All clothes are washed on Sunday and typically put away by Sunday evening. This way, we don't have to think about any laundry until the next week.

Monday: Sweep and Mop kitchen. Clean kitchen (clean counter tops with disinfecting spray, bleach sink, wipe out microwave, etc). Clean bathrooms (everything but showers)

Wednesday: Vacuum house. Clean showers/bathtubs.

Thursday: Dust house. Wash all bedsheets and put fresh ones on beds. Lightly clean bathrooms again (I like a sparkly bathroom).

Friday: Vacuum house (again, small children = dirty floors). Lightly clean kitchen. Clean front screen door. (A futile task because the bottom three feet of the glass will quickly be covered in hand prints once again...but I try.). Mop kitchen and baths.


*Dust baseboards (The kids can do this one with a Swiffer duster. Hello, Child Labor!)

*Dust Ceiling fans

*Clean windows (ugh)

*Dust blinds (double ugh)

A cleaning plan provides you an outline of exactly what you are going to clean each day. This prevents that feeling of helplessness when faced with the task of cleaning a home. Usually I do the day's cleaning during naptime and can complete each set of chores in 30 minutes time. Notice that there are no household chores set up for Tuesdays or Saturdays. Tuesday naptimes are usually spent writing and Saturdays are left open for quality family time.

Although a cleaning plan devises an outline for how one can clean their house each week, it does not have to be a super-strict regime that can never be strayed from. There are some weeks where I devote a good portion of a morning to cleaning and get everything done at once. There are some weeks where certain tasks get left undone (for example, this week I just never got around to dusting...oops!). All of that is okay. Allowing some slack in a cleaning plan and plenty of room for forgiveness when something just does not get done one week, keeps everyone sane and prevents feelings of failure.

Here are a few tips that I have found help me keep on my cleaning schedule and allow casa de phillips to maintain a reasonable level of organization:

1. We do two "toy pick-ups" a day. We clean up toys before lunch/naptime and before bath/bedtime. Every toy is cleaned up and put in its place. On particularly busy days, I sometimes clean up the toys myself after the kids are in bed...but they always get cleaned up.

2. Have a designated place for everything. We can do toy pick-ups quickly because each toy already has a designated home. Jackets, purses, bags, etc have designated homes as well to prevent pile-ups by the back door. I have a large basket for mail or coupons that need to be sorted rather than leaving such things on my kitchen counter. Tobe and I each have a place where we keep our current reading materials (we are both book worms) to prevent magazines and books from laying around the living room or our bedroom. Everything has a home which prevents clutter. By preventing clutter from the start, we cut down on time spent cleaning.

3.I always run the dishwasher on either Thursday night or Friday morning. This provides a empty dishwasher for the weekend. Because I tend to do less cooking on the weekend, relying more on leftovers or eating out, I rarely have to run the dishwasher again before Sunday evening.

4. Take baby steps. Sure, one could devote an entire week to cleaning and organizing their home but who has that kind of time or energy? Take baby steps. Choose one thing to organize/deep clean a week. Before long, a change will be noticed in one's home.

Casa de phillips isn't sparkling and one can never find me dusting the piano in my cardigan set and pressed pants, but we do have a cleaning schedule that works for us and keeps things running smoothly.


GPaty said...

I'm laughing right now because here it is Sunday night, and since I usually take a long nap on Sunday afternoons, I clean in the evenings. And can I just say that it drives my husband CRAZY? I actually just finished vacuuming and there is just something about walking into a clean living room/kitchen on a Monday morning that makes facing the week a little easier. He doesn't get it, but he appeases me nonetheless. Thanks for a great post and for encouraging me to develop a method to my madness.
P.S. I left you a comment about Palin on your previous post. I've been thinking about it all weekend, and have just now had time to sit down and write it. Thanks for giving us all the opportunity to share our thoughts.

Jordan said...

I'm so glad you mentioned the different cleaning levels each person has. I need a "straighter" house than my husband does to function. When the clutter and the "stuff" gets out of hand, I get depressed. Really. I'm a much happier person when I feel like I'm not drowning in my housework. That said, the actual cleaning part doesn't happen as often as I would like. Except for bathrooms (which I'm trying to teach Eli to clean his own), kitchen, and sweeping I don't do a lot of "cleaning." I absolutely HATE to dust and vaccum. It's one of the reasons we are putting tile floor in most of our new house! I'm also blessed to have some cleaning ladies come every two weeks. I petitioned my husband in a moment of weakness and pulled the cancer card. It should only be reserved for the gravest of house was one of them! :) We have one major pick-up every night right after bath. Both kids help (Phoebe is better at it than Eli, go figure) while Brad supervises...I'm usually doing dinner dishes. Our house runs pretty similiar to yours except for laundry. I try to do one load a day. I wash and dry it and then put it on my bed so it has to get folded and put up before I can go to sleep! If we end of missing a day, I try to do 2 loads the next day. Here's the last thing I'll comment on: I'm surprised you don't have to run your dishwasher more than you do. I seem to be forever loading and unloading the dishwasher. Thanks for sharing your life with your readers. I feel so much more normal when I when your blog!

Phillips Family said...

Oh...I didn't mean to make it sound like I only run the dishwasher once on Thursday. If that were the case, dishes would be stacked clear to the ceiling. We typically run it every 1 and 1/2days and then try to only run it before the weekend begins and when it ends. I hate unloading the dishwasher and really detest this chore on the weekends!