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:
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!