Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Housekeeping ~ daily tasks and weekly routines ~ my attempts to stem household chaos

Housekeeping seems to be an unpopular, even neglected topic and I'm not surprised that my articles about it are less read than any of the others.  The busy lives many of us lead don't leave much time for this sort of thing, yet if it's neglected it inevitably piles up and can cause problems of various sorts: dust and dirt can harbour germs and allergens; things get misplaced, and lack of properly thought out grocery shopping may lead to additional expense and inconvenience.  Quite frankly, it's depressing: a dirty, untidy house can have a major effect on one's mood.  I'm at home a lot so this is important.

In contrast I find that a clean, smoothly functioning household does engender a restful setting which helps me relax, even think more clearly and work more energetically, so it is definitely worth the effort.  The difficult part is keeping it in perspective, so that it doesn't take up too much room in my life with other things being fitted in around it.  What I aim for, and seldom achieve, is good housekeeping that goes on quietly in the background, which I don't need to think about or exert myself over too much.  I have other commitments that are arguably more important and I need to be free to get on with those.

Gustave Flaubert seems to have been thinking along similar lines when he made the suggestion to... 
"Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work." 
As I've said before, I prefer the word 'vigorous' to 'violent', but I know what he means.  It is well worth striving for.

Here then are my schedules.  I seldom, if ever, get right through them as they are set out here, but find them a useful set of reference points.

My morning routine can take about an hour.  I aim to stop after an hour anyway.  If I do only these things and abandon doing anything from my weekly schedule I still have a tolerably clean and fresh home which is good enough for anything, and I can catch up with other things another day.  I've got much better at this with practice!

Each day I do my best to:
  • Put on fresh or at least moderately clean and presentable clothes
  • Put clothes destined for the wash into the laundry basket
  • Put away any other clothes that are lying about
  • Make the bed and straighten the bedroom. 
Having had breakfast:
  • Clear the table and shake or change the table cloth
  • Wash up
  • Put the wiping cloth, hand towel and tea towel in the wash and replace them with fresh ones
  • Empty the bench top compost container into the bokashi bucket
  • Leave the kitchen clear and tidy.
In the bathroom and toilet:
  • Wipe around the basin and taps, either with the bathroom wiping cloth or with the hand towel that is destined for the wash
  • Wipe the bathroom mirror - the out-going hand towel is excellent for this
  • Put the wiping cloth and the hand towel in the wash and replace them with fresh ones
  • Check there is adequate soap
  • Check the toilet is presentable and has a spare toilet roll.
In the laundry:
  • Put a wash through, etc.
In the living room / sitting room:
  • Tidy it up and straighten furniture.
Air the house - even if only for ten minute to half an hour.

  • Spot-vacuum or wipe if they look bad enough to need it! 
Lastly I sit down, have a cup of tea, and decide what I'll make for lunch and dinner.  This is very important, as if I leave it until closer to the time, I'll be tired and uninspired.  I'm likely to be both of those things anyway, but if I've already decided what I'm going to prepare it makes it much easier to simply get on with it!

My weekly schedule is less stable:
The idea is to spend about two hours on these things.  The reality often bears little resemblance to anything remotely like it, but at least if I don't get things done I know why, and I also know the amount of time that is realistic.  These reference points at least mean I'm less panicky when things get behind and seem chaotic as I know that even if some days I achieve little or nothing, that within a week the house can be made relatively shipshape once more without major stress!

  • Washing - catch up on any hand washing or extra to usual washing, such as sheets and towels.
  • Paperwork - clear through bills to pay, tally the housekeeping budget, and deal with any other papers that need attention.
  • If there is any time left over I can do any odd tasks that only need doing from time to time
  • Household shopping for groceries and so on.
  • Pay any bills that get paid over the counter
  • Catch up on any correspondence that's due.  I try to answer letters, cards and e-mails within a week of receiving them.
  • Ironing - if any!
  • Mending
  • Other sewing
  • Rubbish readied for collection
  • Get the rubbish out to the gate for collection
  • Vacuum and clean the floors, and sweep around the porches and steps
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Properly clean the kitchen benches and disinfect the cleaning things: kitchen brushes, wiping sponges, nail brushes, plugs, combs, hairbrushes.  
    • The tall three litre plastic container I keep the washing up gear in under the bench is excellent for this, as I simply wash it out with detergent and then fill it with hot water to which I add a splosh of household bleach.
  • Water the house plants
  • Baking
  • Clean shoes (!)
  • Gardening
  • Take a break! 

Other articles about my struggles with housekeeping can be found on the page entitled:
My article about the value of cleaning can be found via the following link


Anonymous said...

this is a great idea! im glad i found your post, i think ill do the same!

Leigh Christina Russell said...

Hi Gina, good to hear from you. All the best with it! :-)