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Just over three years ago I had never needed or even heard of a cleaning routine. My then-boyfriend/fiance and I were living in a 1008 square footer and both working full time (and then some).
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We were young and in love and didn’t see the importance of structured cleaning habits, but rather tried to keep things our version of tidy. This usually involved a mad 1-2 hour clean once a week, when we were expecting company, or when the dishes got to be far too smelly to stare at any longer.
But that was all about to change.
Fast forward. We moved into our newly built home. I use this term quite loosely. Yes, the house was technically built, but we didn’t even have drywall up aside from our bedroom and one storage room-cum-kitchen.
It was three months after our wedding and a time of character building and livin’ on love. As we slowly picked away at finishing (read: still finishing) this place, it occurred to me that this new home is over two-and-a-half times as big as our first cozy little abode. I could barely manage the cleaning in that house, how was I supposed to deal with this massive mess magnet?!
Figuring it Out
Well, after getting to the point of civilized habitation (ie. Running water, walls, flooring), I figured I better start doing something or this place would go to ruin. Working full time did not facilitate an evening cleaning schedule – I was just too burnt out when I got home, plus we were still living in construction. That left the weekends. The time when we were supposed to catch up with friends and family, attend functions, go on dates, and finish the house (ha).
Cramming everything into one or two days was just too overwhelming. So, after some trial and error we just learned to clean up after ourselves. Since we both worked full time out of the home, it wasn’t so bad. We were able to keep up. Barely. Sort of.
Then the tornado struck.
After some time of juggling the build, full time work, and trying to conceive, I decided to become a full time homemaker, thus generating much more mess than we had before! To add to it, I started babysitting a few little rascals in our home. More dishes. More laundry. Toys. Something had to change again. I couldn’t keep up on the constant messes.
Enter my cleaning routine.
I sat down with a good ol’ fashioned sheet of paper and divided it into a few different columns: Daily, Weekly, Biweekly, Monthly, Seasonally, Yearly.
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The categories were summed up like this:
Daily column – very few tasks. Mostly no-brainer items like dishes, cook supper, make the bed, sweep up, tidy.
Weekly column – bulk of my chores. Things that need to be done once a week to keep a clean home – mop floors, clean fridge, clean bathrooms, dust & vacuum, do laundry, clean the playroom. I tried to keep it as simple as possible. I then wrote out the days of the work week and divided the tasks among them. Little advice, pick one of your favourite chores for your least favourite day, and, if you can, leave one or two days free for catching up or relaxing. My routine pencils in all the regular tasks Monday – Wednesday so I have Thursday and Friday for extra chores, errands, backlog, etc.
Biweekly column – I may have had the odd thing written in here, but quite honestly there is nothing I solely do biweekly now. Some examples might be fridge cleaning, ironing, baking, garage tidy/sweep, clean laundry room.
Monthly column – bigger jobs and deep cleaning. Some of the more dreaded chores like vehicle cleaning, closet and dresser organizing, cleaning the vacuum cleaner, dishwasher, and washing machine.
Seasonally Column – this could mean four times a year, or twice a year, depending what you consider a season. Bigger tasks in this area. Window and screen washing, wall washing, light covers, clean and organize cupboards.
Yearly Column – very few items. Things like shampoo carpets, go through books, organize recipes.
Since I’ve started this cleaning routine/schedule/ritual my life has become much more simple and enjoyable. I know what chores I want to get done each day and, if I’m feeling up to it, can squeeze in a few other tasks, too.
I know if I need to go somewhere I need to work my jobs around that outing. It gives me peace of mind to know it’s “laundry day” or “floors day” and that I don’t have to get everything done at once.
It helps that I enjoy having a clean home and don’t have to worry about someone dropping in and seeing my messy kitchen (unless I’m in the middle of a project, but that’s another story).
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I found, too, that breaking up my chores allows me to appreciate the process more and do a better job, giving stronger attention to detail and dirt than when I was rushing through things.
Of course I’m only human and don’t always stick to this cleaning routine. Life happens and you won’t always be able to either. I know when I do miss days or slack off I feel guilty about it and later regret it because it means more to do later. Plus, I know how great it is to feel accomplished when my daily tasks are done so missing out on that is a pretty big bummer!
I used to get stressed when I wouldn’t finish something, but now that the reason for not getting something done is due to spending quality time with my daughter, or babysitting a little more, it’s all worth it. And there’s always tomorrow!
Expect and embrace the changes.
As your seasons of life change, so will your cleaning routine. We now have a little one to chase around and clean up after. In a mere 3 months we’ll have another baby. Things will change again.
Going from someone who could do A HELL OF A LOT in one day, to someone who would rather sit around and play with babies is incredulous to me. But it is reality. I don’t and can’t do near as much as I did when I was just a wifey.
Mama-hood is the most wonderful experience and I don’t want to miss anything. I’m extremely fortunate to be able to stay home with my littles and watch them become real people, but that also comes with a lot of responsibility. Our home needs to be clean and safe for them to grow in. Meals need to be prepared and healthy. Routine keeps me grounded and my sanity in check.
So, if you’re looking for a sign or some sort of nudge, this is it. Try it out. Make it work for you and your home. Every household is different so find what yours needs.
Already use some sort of organization method for your chores? Need some help getting started? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment or drop me an email. Happy cleaning.
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