Do you speak of chores or tasks when referring to the caring for your home? Do you consider the act of cleaning and tidying as a delay to your life or an opportunity to restore calm?
Truthfully it can be hard work at times: tedious, repetitive and seemingly never ending. Yet sometimes I cannot help but recognise what a privilege it is. What an opportunity to nurture the very space that we live in, and in subsequence nurture ourselves to. It’s not just since Marie Kondo that we know an orderly place makes for a calmer, more restful mind.
So, while it can seem relentless (particularly with non-cooperative family members around) I wholeheartedly belief with some healthy habits and a good rhythm in place caring for our homes can be a joyous part of our lives.
A good housekeeping rhythm, in my opinion, keeps the home relatively effortless in a well functioning state – calm, content, inspiring enough to make messes but not drown in them – without requiring a full time housekeeper. Because in truth something could always be done, cleaned or tidied in a home; but these things don’t always need to take priority. Particularly when your housekeeper (in our case me) isn’t just a housekeeper.
It’s finding that sweet spot where the duties are all taken care off and the state of the house happily swings with the highs and lows of day to day life, where there is an allowance for ignorance of care at times and yet, no insurmountable piles of something (clothes, dishes etc.) accumulate on a regular basis.
A good rhythm is never set in stone, but stays flexible enough to change with the changing demands of life. Just this January I had to sit down and re-evaluate the routines and habits I had in place as I realised they clearly weren’t serving us anymore. The way I had organised the housekeeping tasks across the week, created days that I dreaded before they even begun and a backlog of unfinished to dos. So, I took a good look at the set-up which had been in place since the spring, let go of a few beliefs and misconceptions (e.g. a weekly shop always has to happen on a Monday) and started to switch things around.
How To Set Up A Housekeeping Rhythm
Crafting a well fitting housekeeping rhythm can be extremely freeing and the end result is not nearly as constricting as it might sound. Ultimately it’s about creating space for it in your day and in your mind so it’s never a dread but simply an opportunity.
Write a task list | First of all I jot down a quick list of all the tasks I generally consider necessary doing. In Autumn/Winter my task list generally reads like this:
Make beds; clean counter tops and tables; sweep fireplace; stock up wood; washing up; laundry; cook breakfast, lunch and dinner; check on and water houseplants; vacuum clean; empty and clean bins; put bins out; mop floors; clean fridge; clean kitchen appliances, clean bathroom; clean windows; clean carpets; dust TV and shelves, dust lights
Consider frequency and time allowance |Secondly I make a note of how often I think individual tasks need doing and how long I think they’ll take. Are they more suited to be done quick and often or should I consider them once a week/month/season but with great care. Last year I had a dedicated laundry day per week and almost always never managed to finish all the washing required and don’t get me started on the putting away. Sometimes I moved mountains of freshly washed clothes around until it was time to wash again. Now I do laundry daily, wether it’s putting on a wash, hanging it out to dry or putting clothes away. Although the frequency has increased, the respective time it takes me each day has gone down and this way it’s much easier to handle.
Schedule time into diary | I consider taking care of our home a vital part of the general work that I do and I treat the duties like that, therefore I deliberately schedule time into my week to tend to the house. I find it helpful to allocate the tasks to certain days and then stick to that set-up until it doesn’t serve us anymore. It is crucial that I’m very honest with myself about the time and energy I have available throughout the day, because that ultimately determines wether I ever get round to doing a task. There’s no point in scheduling a whole house vacuum clean and dusting session on a day where we’re out all morning because that afternoon I’ll probably just want to sit on the couch and sip tea.
Generally speaking I do small daily tasks at the beginning or end of the day, following the breakfast or dinner washing up and spread bigger tasks across the week instead of having one cleaning day. Our week has clear peaks and dips in social activities. When taking on new commitments I’m conscious of keeping this balance between very active and quieter times within a week, but also within each day. To give us ample time to rest, retrieve and in my case, tend to some housekeeping tasks. Two days a week I keep free of larger weekly housekeeping tasks – at the moment the Saturday and Sunday. One to add monthly or seasonal to dos and the other one to relish in the fact that I have no housework to do.
Our current housekeeping rhythm for Autumn/Winter
Morning | Before breakfast: Make beds, put a washing on, sweep fireplace and put on if required
After breakfast: Washing up, sweep floor in kitchen and under dining table, swipe counters and table
Monday | Check on houseplants
Tuesday | Laundry of delicate or heavily stained items and bedding, Dusting
Wednesday | Meal planning (including a quick pantry check), Weekly Shop, Fridge Clean (while putting shopping away)
Thursday | Vacuum Clean, Empty & put out bins
Friday | Clean Bathroom and Kitchen
Saturday | Monthly or seasonal tasks as and when required like dust lights, clean windows inside (I’ve got a window cleaner coming once a month to take care of the windows from the outside), inventory of fire wood and lighters, clean carpets
Sunday | Rest and Relax
Evening | After dinner: washing up, sweep and swipe table/counter tops, stock up on firewood
Before bed: Quick tidy and return of items to where they belong
Of course every household is different and therefore every housekeeping rhythm will be different. While I believe the three steps to figuring out a good housekeeping rhythm are universal, the decisions and circumstances that shape it are unique to us. The rhythm shared above has been provided in the spirit of inspiration and because I’ve always valued the information given by other families to figure out what might work for us and I hope I can pass some of that value on with this post.
If you want to dive deeper into the idea of a good housekeeping/cleaning rhythm. Here are some wonderful articles on the matter from around the web.