Overwhelmed by Housework? Friday Routine

Look, we've made it through the storms of the houseworking week, and here we are, washed up on the shores of Friday.  Today we can practically whiz through daily chores with our eyes shut. OK, probably a bad idea. Keep your eyes open, and enjoy the view. Is the house tidier and less cluttered than it was on Monday? Have you been finding homes for little bits and pieces during the week to make tidying easier? Did you do some serious decluttering yesterday? Right, let's crack on:

Open the curtains and blinds, and windows depending on the weather.
Wake up the family. Get dressed.
Throw a load in the washing machine. Washing to the bottom of the basket for the last time this week.
Unpack dish drainer and dish washer.
After breakfast, make the beds, dress small children. Put PJs away.
Clear the kitchen table and benches.
Now here is a surprise - DON'T pack the dishwasher. Leave the dishes on the sink for now. All will be revealed.
Empty compost, bin, recycling.
Wash dishes if needed, rinse compost bin.
Wipe down the benches and table, wipe out the sink.
Change over hand towel, tea towel and dishcloths.
Tidy the living areas, hallway, bathroom.
Change bathroom hand towel.
Anything you need to prepare now for dinner?

Today we vacuum again (if needed). Living areas, hallway, bathrooms (or just the main bathroom): wherever the dirt seems to collect most often. Today we are sprucing up the house so that the weekend will be gloriously free for family activities and sheer self-indulgence. When you have finished, park the vacuum cleaner in the kitchen.

A quick bathroom facelift - clean the toilet, wipe over basins and mirrors. Remember to dry them so they sparkle!

And today's cleaning  job? The kitchen. It is a space that has worked very hard all week, and now we will be giving back some love. It is already clear and tidy from morning chores, except for those dishes on the sink.  A good start, but it wants more!

Now it is time to do that yucky job, Scrubbing the dishwasher filter. Pull it out and scrub it under hot water. I use the sink brush. Fill the sink with hot, soapy water and leave it to soak for a bit. Put the dishwasher on for a short wash, empty. I do this twice, once with bicarb soda sprinkled in it, and once with white vinegar (about a cup) poured in the bottom. While it is washing, wipe over the oven, fridge, microwave and cupboard door fronts. Check the fridge for nasty food that needs to be composted.

Replace the filter when it is clean (rinse it well). Wipe over all the surfaces of the dishwasher and repack it with all those dishes on the sink.

Now we are going to deep clean one wall of the kitchen. The kitchen contains so much that needs a regular clean that I can't fit it all in one day, so I take one wall of the kitchen per week. I have four walls (one of them is the breakfast bar). If you have less, such as a galley kitchen, you can have some weeks off!

Give everything on that one wall a really good clean. Pull everything out of drawers and cupboards and vacuum. Wipe out if necessary, and dry before you put things back in. Wash out the bin and the recycling bin with warm, soapy water (I do this in the laundry). Clean out the fridge, microwave, or oven. The easiest way I have found to clean the kitchen is to fill the sink with hot soapy water, and clean everything possible with that. It makes sense that you clean the kitchen with dishwashing detergent, which is designed to remove food and fat. I also use my home-made bathroom paste (or substitute plain bicarb soda, or a gentle cream cleaner) for stainless steel, or stubborn stains on cupboard door fronts. Be very wary of using anything abrasive like this on a painted surface. Test first. Wash the rangehood filters in warm, soapy water, dry, then drip dry, preferably outside, or on an old towel, because they tend to drip the last of the fat out. Nice. I guarantee you will be swearing to cook with less fat after doing this!

Now, if all your appliances are in one bank on a wall, there will be way too much work for one week, so maybe assign appliances arbitrarily to each of the four walls to make it fair. I have cupboards to the ceiling on one wall, so I ignore the high cupboards until I get there with The House Project, when I can climb up on the ladder.

Last of all, vacuum the kitchen floor. I have a bagless vacuum cleaner, so I empty it on Fridays before I put it away.

Now there is just the rest of the laundry to finish, and the evening chores:

Sorting mail and children's school papers.
Unpack and repack the dishwasher or wash dishes before you start dinner.
Bath the children and wipe out the bath. Tidy the bathroom.
Clear away children's toys.
After dinner, dishes, wipe stove and benches.
Check tomorrow's menu,and check diary for tomorrow.
Make sure children are prepared for school and activities tomorrow.
Make sure children put away clothes and 'things' from the living areas.
Tidy living areas and bathroom.

There, a week's housekeeping done. Our houses are tidy and clean, and we have the lovely, lovely weekend ahead. There are no jobs assigned for the weekend, so enjoy! If you keep up with daily chores, the house will stay tidy until Monday. In fact, although daily living, especially with children, can create enormous messes, keeping up with these daily chores means that the house will be tidy at least twice a day all the time. And if we clean up twice a day, there is no chance for the really scary messes to develop, the ones that get added to over days and weeks. Gone forever!

Now I do want to be very clear here - I very rarely ever complete every job in this weekly routine. But if I miss a job one week, it gets done the next day, or the next week, and it is not a big deal. I almost always do all the daily chores, because that keeps the house livable. And if it all falls apart due to illness or crisis, there is a blueprint to get the house back to normal within the week, so no panicking necessary. 

Routines are tools, not rules. Incredibly useful, but not as important as friends, family and living.

I hope you have found something useful here that you can play around with to make a routine that suits you and your family and situation. My next post will be a wrap up of thoughts on housework, and I would love to link to other posts on household routines. If you have one now, or develop one, let me know in the comments, either now or in the future, and if you post it on your blog I will link to it, and hopefully will be able to create a compendium of household routines from all sorts of different households and lifestyles. It can be a quick overview, or a detailed plan. Clearly, I have gone for detailed. Very, very detailed. Thanks for reading!


Linda said…
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts this week. As a housewife of almost(next month) 42 years I am very impressed with your organisation and routines. I am naturally an organised person but as the years go by and there are only the two of us a home I have lapsed! But this week I have been buzzing around filling odd minutes whilst waiting for the kettle to boil wiping down surfaces, putting pots away in cupboards, aired clothes in drawers etc. So, thank you! Now, my next BIG JOB is re-organising my kitchen cupboards so that "like is with with like". All seems to have got very disorganized and my baking ingredients and baking utensils are dotted all over the place. At the moment it seems a mountain to climb so if you have any ideas(rules) I would be grateful!
Jo said…
Linda, housekeeping for 42 years makes you officially a domestic goddess!
Oh, cleaning out kitchen cupboards, that is a big job. When we renovated, our new kitchen was smaller than the old - but in a much better, sunnier position, so I had to do the big clean out. I like to have breathing space in cupboards and drawers, so ruthlessly threw lots out. So much 'stuff' creeps into the kitchen cupboards that doesn't get used. Use it or lose it! Like with like is such a good way to store things, and also locating them where you will use them. Wooden spoons handy to the stove so you can grab them with one hand while cooking, for instance.
I reorganised my pantry in April, if you want to take a look:
I'm sure you are across all this, just a matter of doing it. Aaargh!
I took a peek at all the beautiful quilts on your blog. Now me, I have been trying to finish my first attempt for about two years now, and still haven't climbed that particular mountain..
All the best!
I was so looking forward to seeing what friday would be! i am even gladder (!) that you have the weekend off - from housework, anyway.
you have really inspired me Jo to do more during the week after work, so i can reclaim my weekends too.
I locked open all the windows this morning so fresh (cold) air can blow thru while i'm here at work.
and you have reminded me that i need to clean my fridge. no, actually, i remind myself everytime i open the door and see some crumbs - now there are no excuses, your energy is inspiring. i do need some help though to move the fridge so i can clean behind it... yikes, what a horror that will be!
thanks for a great week, Jo.
GretchenJoanna said…
You are amazing - first, that you have the housework so organized that it sounds fun to get in there and just do it and get the reward of feeling good. And second, for taking the time to share the system with us - that took a lot of time, and I feel the love!
Jo said…
Thanks e, I have a crumby fridge too, and it often has dead food in it :(
And moving the fridge to clean it has been on my too hard list for... well, how long was it since our new kitchen went in? A couple of years, anyway. That is one of those things that requires a real team effort!
And thanks Gretchen Joanna, we all know it's not really that fun to get in and go it - but the results are wonderful! and I have been wanting to write these posts for a while, and just noting it all down has given me new motivation to keep on schedule.
Linda said…
Hi Jo, I have just read your Pantry re-organising post. Fantastic! Unfortunately I don't have a larder cupboard but a series of individual cupboards, all different measurements. This is why I got in a mess.So,I have got to bite the bullet, and empty everything out of these cupboards, equipment as well as foodstuffs and sort it all out. Like your baskets idea. I have some old plastic ice cream boxes I have used for too long, and they are too flimsy for the job. So, watch this space! Thanks for visiting my Quilt blog. Hope you progress with your quilt, it's a marvellous hobby.
Jo said…
Good luck with all that Linda!
When I get back to my quilt will come to you for advice :)
I sort of wish I had your routine like efficiency, but at the same time, don't, cause I'm loathed to take it all on myself! That being said, things like 'clean the bathroom filter' or 'behind the fridge' got diarised after I did them once in my place. Good reminder to go back to the 'project' like jobs. Tomorrow, I'm going to try the list approach with the BF - and he can pick some. So today (my day off) I've resisted vaccuming, tidying his clothes, refilling water bottles (he just WILL NOT return them to the kitchen and fill them and suffered for that this morning bahahaha! That'll teach him!) So on my list will be bathroom wipe down (namely toliet), mop bathroom (around toliet!), a load or two of washing (and we'll be up to date), vacuum the place (likely my job, and I'm OK with that, but pre doing it will not make me look 'equal' on the list). Sigh... to have a weekend off. But then again, we are out of the house with work weekdays, so that's just how it's gotta be!
Jo said…
Negotiating housework really is tricky. I wish you all the best with that relationship minefield, but really, with two people working full time, household chores should be divided equally - right? But I hear you from an earlier comment, and another commenter, Libi, on Monday's post, that partners' ideas of necessary household chores aren't going to always be in agreement.
That is a whole other housekeeping issue of course. I wonder how other families/couples deal with this?
In our house, I do most of the chores, because I am at home, but The Man happily does stuff I hate, like running out to pick up groceries I need, or picking up children. He is often the one finishing off the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen in the evening, after the children have 'done' the dishes!
And when the children were little, I was so happy for him to come home and take over childcare duties (bonding with Daddy) while I got to cook or clean peacefully. You know times are hard when doing the dishes by yourself seems like relaxation.. but it would have been a gross dereliction of duty for him to have done neither task.. because we had both been working hard all day.
Anyway, point is, it is all a delicate dance, balancing the relationship and the state of the space that houses it..
Linda said…
One tip I learned from my mother - never go up or downstairs empty-handed. There is always something that needs to be carried up or down to be put away.
Jo said…
Good tip. Mothers have it all worked out! Mine always told me that making the bed and shutting the cupboard doors makes a bedroom look much tidier, whatever is on the floor!
Reporting back - I sat the BF down last night after dinner with my chore expectations, and he got to pick some - he took 'vacuum whole house' and wash car and something else (I forget, I think I already recycled that piece of paper). Then I got bathroom wipe down and moping, and washing - washing I'm happy with, and I'll do the bathroom. He reported back post vacuuming and I assigned him bed making (cause, gosh darn, this house WILL have it'd bed made daily and whilst he's the last one out of it EVERY DAY he'll do it!). He knows that doing none of the housework (and being on the computer) makes me an angry/crying B*tch, so I think that's helping (I don't like reacting, but I can't pretend I'm ok with doing it all). So yay! Small wins!
Jo said…
Oh, well done you. That is such a hard conversation! Although maybe you should have got him to sign that piece of paper, instead of recycling it?
I do admire your honesty within your relationship, and the way you are prepared to sit down and sort things out.
The Man will do anything in the house, except make the bed, or refrain from leaving his clothes on the bedroom chair (he says they're 'airing'). He is an angel with other domestic tasks, and all the renovating, so I am happy to be chief bedmaker, even on the weekend. Anyway, for a man who is so good at using every power tool in existence, he is rubbish at making beds..
Oh that is interesting - of all the things to have 'a thing' about - it's bed making and clothes putting away! Seems, unlike my parents, I will be the toliet cleaner even though I'm convinced it's the BF who dirties it most (my dad's been trained in bathroom cleaning, and does it when there's not a paid cleaner in service).

Back to my parents, they both echoed each other on my dinner (alone) there this week, they kept saying 'communicate' and the BF always encourages me to tell him what's wrong - so I do my best to get it all out in the open. Sometimes it takes a while - either to say it or to work out how to resolve the issue, but if I don't try, I'm only going to keep getting worked up!!

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