Good morning my lovelies! Here we are, ready for a week of housekeeping, Blueday-style.
First, open all those blinds and curtains and let the sunshine in. If it is summer, make sure all the windows are open to let in the cool morning air.
Did you think you were going to get an early morning cup of tea? Hold on, a couple of jobs first.
Throw a load of washing into the machine. Today we are going to be washing to bottom of laundry basket. Don't worry about sheets and towels - that is tomorrow's job. Just keep on putting the loads through until there is nothing left to wash. If you are likely to forget, put the stove timer on to remind you when it is time to hang out the washing and put the next load on. If there is anything that needs soaking, pop it into a bucket in the laundry sink now.
Do you have children to wake up? Do it now. If yours are like mine, they will growl at you and tell you to go away. I give them a five minute warning and go and get myself dressed. If your children are like mine were ten years ago, they will have been up since dawn, and you will be doing jobs around them. Good luck!
While everyone is blearily getting breakfast, and in between boiling the kettle and making porridge for the small person, I put away the dishes on the dish drainer and unpack the dishwasher. This means the family can pack all their own breakfast things straight into the dishwasher.
When breakfast is over, everyone makes their own beds. You may have to make beds for little children, but they can put the pillow on top and arrange their teddies. Dress the children while they are in the room with you, and help them put away their pyjamas, or throw them in the laundry (PJs, not children).
If it is summer, close the windows again, and shut the blinds to keep the sun out. In winter, I open up the house as soon as everyone leaves to air it out for half an hour.
Do you need to hang out washing yet?
It's time to clear the kitchen table and benches. Is there fruit in the fruit bowl that needs to be used? Put it on the bench for lunch. Have the flowers reached the end of their life? Put them in the compost, and rinse out the vase. Finish packing the dishwasher. Empty the kitchen bin, the recycling bin and the compost. Are there any dishes that need hand washing? On days when there aren't I just rinse the compost pot, but if I need to do the dishes, I scrub the pot as well. Wipe down the kitchen benches. Wipe out the sink. Change over the kitchen hand towel, tea towels, and dish cloths.
Now you should have a clear and clean kitchen. Wipe down the kitchen/dining table. The only things left on it should be flowers or the fruit bowl.
Next we are going to whiz around the living areas, tidying as we go. If you have a lot of clutter, don't despair, just concentrate on clearing the most vital spaces, no more than five minutes for dining room, living room, hallway. Make sure you can sit on the couch, clear off the coffee table, and the top of the hall table. Once you have decluttered (don't worry, we'll get onto that later in the week), this daily five minute whiz around will keep your living areas permanently tidy (well, once the children are out of toddlerhood!). Head to the bathroom, and tidy that (I do it while cleaning my teeth). Change hand towels in the bathroom.
Well, now your kitchen is clear and tidy, your living areas are respectable, your bathroom reasonably presentable. Doesn't that feel better? We will be following this little routine every morning, and by the end of the week, all these spaces will be a lot clearer, just for five minutes' tidying per room (well, ten, because we will be doing it at night as well).
This whole routine is possible to compress into the time before leaving the house for school or work. Easier, of course, without a bunch of small children, but still possible, especially as it becomes more routine, and especially if you have a helpful partner and children. Back in the day when I was homeschooling, we would start 'school' now, and I would keep doing the washing throughout the morning, but start the major housework jobs after lunch.
Now it is time to start the job list for Monday - dusting and vacuuming. Dust all the surfaces in the living areas and the hallway. I start at the door of my living room and work my way around the living room, dining room, kitchen and hallway. Again, dust around clutter if you need to. Don't worry, it will all be gone soon! Otherwise, lift up objects, dust them, dust underneath them, and run the duster along visible skirting boards.
Edited to add: If you have an open fire or woodstove, brush it out this morning BEFORE you dust. I forgot this morning and had to dust twice :(
Vacuum or sweep all the areas that you have dusted. Use the upholstery attachment to vacuum the couches. I also vacuum the back porch (mudroom), laundry and bathroom. While I'm in the bathroom, I vacuum the bathtub using the upholstery attachment, because my three girls have very long hair which they brush enthusiastically next to the tub each morning. There, now the house is visitor-ready. Tidied, dusted, with clean floors in all the living areas.
Do you need to hang out more washing now?
Next it is time to dust and vacuum the bedrooms, and less-used rooms. In our house that is the study and a downstairs family room (our main living areas are upstairs because our house is built into a hill). My three oldest children dust and vacuum their own rooms on the weekend, which leaves me with two to do. Now is a good time to evaluate - bearing in mind that there is still grocery shopping to do, do you have time to dust and vacuum the bedrooms? Sometimes I leave these until Wednesday, when I will be vacuuming the living areas again anyway. Edited to add: I knew I would forget something. Tidy before you dust and vacuum. Obvious I know, but I am obsessive, and felt I had to add it. Again, if there is lots of clutter, just tidy for five minutes or so. Eventually that clutter will be worn down by sheer persistence, and will go and live somewhere else.
Time for a well-deserved cup of tea. It is time to plan the week's menu, and write a shopping list. Remember to also plan for children's lunchbox lunches and snacks. Don't forget lunch for the stay at home parent and family lunches on the weekend. Are you having anyone over for dinner? Are you going out for dinner and need to take something? Is there a birthday party? Do you have a movie night with chips and popcorn? Picnics? What needs to be used up from fridge and pantry? The more comprehensive your grocery shop today, the less you will have to dash out to the shops during the week, which really eats in to your time and energy.
Is there something you need to do now for dinner? Defrost something from the freezer? Put the slow cooker on?
Right, how is the washing going? Done yet?
OK, off to the grocery store. If this doesn't work with your schedule now, you will have to tweak the menu to make it last until grocery shopping day, and then do your week's menu on that day.
Right, after you have put away the groceries, and put those reusable bags back in the car, you get to have a leisurely lunch and a nice cup of tea. Do clear up afterwards. Put the dishwasher on if it is full, or handwash the dishes. Clear the kitchen benches again.
Bringing in the dry washing, folding, sorting and putting away is the next task, then the major jobs are done for the day. Except for ironing. Is there much? If you have a big ironing pile, start on it now, just a few items every wash day over and above what you have washed. I don't iron much, just business shirts, the occasional summer dress, and summer school dresses. Winter school shirts are always under jumpers except for the collars, so I don't do them! I usually iron when I have about half an hour's worth (once or twice a week), and watch a gardening show on telly.
If you have children coming home from school, get them to unpack their bags straight away. Lunchboxes go straight in the dishwasher. Deal with their vitally important pieces of paper now, along with the mail, while you are drinking your tea and forcing them to eat fruit. I have a little black diary, in which I write down all the dates and information from the school papers. Then I put the pieces of paper themselves in a folder with plastic sleeves that I keep in the hall table drawer. It contains all the timetables for school and sport and ballet, the canteen price list, and all the school activity papers, because however much I write in my diary, there is always some vital detail I leave out. When I put a new sheet in, I do a quick check and pull out old ones for activities that have already happened.
The mail gets immediately recycled, filed in the study filing cabinet, or put in the 'to do' basket in the hall table drawer. If it goes in there, it also has a note in my diary reminding me what action to take on what day - pay a bill, ring for an appointment etc.
Before you start dinner, make sure there is heaps of space in the dishwasher. Unpack it if it has gone through a cycle in the day. Wash any dishes on the sink. Start with a clear space. As you cook, put ingredients away. Put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, or stack them next to the sink. If you hand wash, and have five minutes while you are waiting for something to cook, fill up the sink and wash some dishes. While you are cooking, keep an eye on the ingredients you are using. Now is the time to start next week's shopping list. I keep mine permanently in the pantry cupboard with a pen. Jot down anything that you notice you need every time you cook.
Now, is it time for little peoples' bath yet? After the bath, put all their clothes away or in the laundry basket and wipe out the bath with an old towel. Is the bathroom as tidy as you left it this morning?
When dinner is about fifteen minutes away, it is time for children to put their toys (or giant creative messes) away and help set the table.
After dinner, oh look, more dishes. Wipe down the benches and the stove.
Sweep kitchen (if it needs it. To be honest, I often skip this!)
Edited to add: Check menu for tomorrow. Is there something needing to defrost in the fridge overnight? Check diary for tomorrow's appointments.
We have screen free time for homework between 7pm and 9pm.
Older children need to be reminded to put all their dirty clothes in the laundry and clean clothes away. Do they have everything they need for tomorrow at school and after school? Musical instrument? PE kit? Ballet gear? ALL their school uniform? Encourage them to lay it out. Pack school bags for tomorrow.
Before they go to bed, they need to take all their stuff to their rooms AND put it away (ha!). Before you go to bed, make a tour of main living areas again and tidy the day's bits and pieces away - newspapers, shoes, toys, laptops, glasses. Straighten the dining room chairs. Plump the cushions. Tomorrow morning your tidy living room and kitchen table will be like a happy house smile! While you clean your teeth, put away whatever is out of place in the bathroom again. There is generally something...
Well, that was a long day! But we have achieved so much. The house is tidy and clean, and the washing is done. The mail and the children's papers are organised, there is food in the house and a menu for dinner for a week. Today was the hardest day. Tomorrow we will be tackling the bathroom, but don't worry, it almost certainly won't kill you!
Sleep well, and I will see you bright and early in the morning.