Overwhelmed by Housework? Wednesday Routine

Well, good morning! Are you feeling a little more positive about your house today? Is it good to wake up to a clear kitchen? Did you have a long bath in your sparkly clean tub last night?

Today we are going to do fun projects (well, more fun than cleaning the bath). But first, the morning routine. I'm sure you have the gist of it now, so we'll go short-hand this morning.

Open the curtains and blinds, and windows depending on the weather.
Put on a load of washing. We will be washing to the bottom of the laundry basket again today. If you have less than three children, and none of them are in washable nappies, you may be able to get away without washing until Friday, which is the next general laundry day.
Wake up the family. Get dressed.
Unpack dish drainer and dish washer.
After breakfast, make the beds, dress small children. Put PJs away.
Clear the kitchen table and benches.
Pack the dishwasher.
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?

Wow, we are zooming through chores today.

This morning, I will be vacuuming the living areas, back porch, laundry and bathrooms again because we are terribly dirty here at Blueday. If you don't have children or pets, you may get away with not vacuuming until Friday, or even next Monday. The lure of not having to vacuum is a definite motivation to be careful about where you eat cereal during the week..

After vacuuming, we will mop. I only mop once a week (OK, let's be honest, I often only mop once a fortnight..). Some people with crawling babies, children with allergies, pets, or lord help us, white floor tiles may need to mop more often. It would be simple to mop Monday, Wednesday, Friday after vacuuming with this routine, or after sweeping the floor every evening (if you are super keen).

When I vacuum Wednesday I tip all the chairs upside down on the dining table and vacuum their felt-tipped feet. Ditto breakfast bar stools. To mop I add a little dishwashing detergent to hot water in a bucket, and add a capful of eucalyptus oil.

Now we are going to do something different. Every Wednesday for half an hour I continue with The House Project. You know all those jobs that need doing every few weeks or months, that you don't remember unless you are actually staring at them, thinking, 'I must do that..but I don't have time right now'. Well, now is that time. And the wonderful thing is, you don't even have to actively remember them.

Here is how it works. I start at the front door, and work my way around every inch of the house, room by room, cleaning all those bits that get missed in the daily and weekly cleaning. Cobwebs on ceilings, dirty light fittings, sticky finger marks on all the walls, unmentionble things behind couches, mould on the ceiling, yucky shower curtains, cleaning the windows. It will all get done every couple of months, so it doesn't need to cause anxiety when you suddenly see something upsetting on the way out to the dentist with the children.

So, I start by refilling the mop bucket with hot water and dishwashing detergent (why dishwashing detergent? It's gentle, it's designed to lift dirt and grease). Sometimes I need a step ladder or the long-handled duster. This is not the time to clean out cupboards - it is time to actually clean the house. I just work for thirty minutes, then stop. Next week, I will start where I left off. When I finish I rinse out the bucket, dry it and put it away in the laundry cupboard. I have to do this so that Posy doesn't pinch my cleaning bucket to fill up with her witchy brews in the garden. Or The Man doesn't take it to mix up grout in. They have their own buckets in the shed to play with..

Ok, now we have completed The House Project, we are going to do a house project. One of those little jobs that we want to complete, or even start, but never get around to. Well, today there is a half hour spare to devote to that project. This is a good time to clean out cupboards. Last week I tossed out the Barbies with Posy. This week I want to fill up the pot on our front porch with potting mix. During the week I will think of something to plant in it. Then I want to clean up the clutter that has accumulated around our back door because it has been raining for two weeks and no-one has ventured more than two steps outside.

But a really exciting thing to do in this half hour is to DECLUTTER. I love decluttering. I am a late convert. I was once very attached to all my things, but I hated the giant mess. I thought the answer was to discover the perfect storage solution, but no, it turns out the solution was to get rid of about three quarters of my stuff. It's all right. Turns out I don't miss it at all. I promise you won't either. And you will LOVE the spacious feeling of your house with less stuff in it. And it will be so much easier to clean.

So we are only going to do this for half an hour. If you have a houseful of clutter, start in the living room, because this is the room you want to relax in with your family, and have a pleasant place to drink your tea, read your book and have visitors in. Start with the floor, because no clutter on the floor equals an easier space to clean. Are there bags or boxes or piles of things there that you need to sort, get rid of, store elsewhere? My philosophy of decluttering is this - never create a pile. Otherwise you will end your decluttering session with piles of stuff that just got moved several feet, and will now live in this new location, because you got distracted before you could relocate them.

Take the first object from the top of your clutter pile, and make a decision regarding it. If it is rubbish, put it in the kitchen bin. Or recycle it. If it has a proper home and you want to keep it, put it away. If it is an important piece of paper, file it. If you have no filing system, put it with all your other important pieces of paper. At least they will all be together then when you need them. If it is a piece of paper that requires action, write that action on an appropriate date in your diary. Then put the piece of paper in your 'To Do' box or basket (mine is in the hall table drawer). Don't worry about it after that, we will get to that job later! If it is an object that you want to donate, put it in a bag or box. At the end of twenty nine minutes use the last minute to take that box out to the car/bike/front door. Don't worry about it after that either - we will deal with it tomorrow. If you want to sell items, clear a shelf somewhere before you begin, and store them there. Later we will be looking at admin jobs, and you can list them then.

This seems like quite an inefficient system, because you are only handling one item at a time, and jogging around the house with it. But you only ever handle that object once, and it is dealt with. Decluttered forever. And you get all that exercise. Multitasking!

If your floor is clear, move on to the horizontal surfaces, and then go from room to room. Each week, start where you left off. Even if you never do any decluttering apart from this half hour, you will eventually get on top of it. And remember, every morning and night you are tidying your living area. Every week you are tidying bedrooms, and every morning and night putting away clothes. Every day your house is becoming more like the home you want it to be.

Now, bringing in the washing, folding, sorting, putting away.
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.

Edited to add: Oops! Important omission. While the children do their homework, I do boring paperwork.
First, tip out your handbag (or manbag..). Oh my goodness, how did all that get in there? Throw out the rubbish, note down the receipt totals if you are tracking expenses. Any important pieces of paper? Note down dates and actions in your diary.

Now get out the 'To Do' basket of papers. Pay bills, fill out paperwork, write cheques. File papers. Get presents, parcels ready to post. If you are going to sell any decluttered items, list them now.

Pile the letters and parcels on the hall table ready to post tomorrow.

I have to admit, I am really bad at keeping on top of this job, as anyone who has ever waited for me to post them something knows (waves to Lucinda)..

How did you go today? Did anybody do any decluttering? I see there are some new followers on the sidebar. Welcome! I would love to hear how you are going if you are following this routine at all. Even if you are not doing it this week, but have a go in the future, come back and leave a comment to let me know how you went. Does anyone out there have any really useful housekeeping tips? I really want to know about them too. Have I missed things out or been unclear on things? Do you have a routine that you follow faithfully? If you post it on your blog, let me know in the comments, and I will link to it on Saturday's wrap-up post.

Whisper: I almost never do everything on these lists. I do most things. But some days I just skip, and do them next week. Or tomorrow. But it's nice having a list so I know what I'm not doing!

Sweet dreams! Thursday is a dream housework day. Almost no jobs. We are going out to do errands instead. Yay!


Tammy said…
I am so in awe of the level of cleanliness that you are able to maintain! AND YOU HAVE KIDS!

As I'm seeing your posts about the different days, I'm feeling grateful for living in a tiny condo with no munchkins. I'm also glad I made a treaty with dust years ago: It doesn't hurt me, I don't hurt it, except for twice a year when I have parties.
Jo said…
Excellent that you have made friends with dust Tammy! I think living in a house in the Burbs creates a lot of dust, as it is directly tracked in each day by hordes of children, through all the open windows from the garden, from the open fire..
Believe me, the children make enormous amounts of mess all the time. Well, actually I am quite good at it too. Housework routine was more an act of self-defence as anything.
Sometimes I long to live in glorious seclusion in a tiny apartment. Oh the peace and serenity. The books I would read! I would never dust then either....
New followers are so exciting! Yay! I'm organised but not with chores. I did set a sort of rule with myself to do something each morning before Work - put away drying up, wash up or hang out washing. It can delay me but on nights I go to my parents and get home at bedtime I'm thankful!

Washing was an overnight job. When hampers are full. Sheets are washed on a needs basis - fortnightly, unless I've been away etc. Weekly is too often! Sheets are always a weekend job!

Vacuuming gets done at weird times - I used to have a habit of doing the rug pre church on Sunday. That's lapsed to more sensible times!

Looking forward to tomorrow
Anonymous said…
Come and be my friend. Nah, come and be my housekeeper. I need someone 'to do' every day.
Jo said…
Sarah, that is my thought exactly - it's painful doing housework, but you're always glad of it in the morning. Or when visitors pop in, or when tradies have to use the bathroom, as happened today. Or even because it's nice to have a cup of tea in a pleasant space.
My son keeps trying to persuade me that fortnightly is enough to wash sheets - but not when you are a sweaty teenage boy, it isn't!
Lucinda, I wish I could say I would love to come and be your housekeeper, but ... well, no. I'll come and be your friend any time. Well, you might have to come here. You know how I feel about flying.

Tanya Murray said…
You are so inspiring and positive. I have loved your enthusiasm this week.
i'm so enjoying catching up with your posts. my hobby at the moment is also decluttering. i love things, but i want to learn to leat go of those 'just in case' things - you know, the incomplete set of measuring cups (just in case the 1/3 cup miraculously disappears), the super large casserole pot (just in case i have to cook for 35 people at once).
thanks for the continuing inspiration Jo!
Jo said…
Tanya, thankyou. To be honest, sometimes I am not QUITE so positive when I am actually doing the housework, but I love the result!
e, so hard to let go of those things when your brain is saying 'what if'..
Jen's Busy Days said…
I like that you admit that you don't get everything done from your lists. I am much the same in that at least I know what I missed and that becomes a priority next time I come to that list. I do my cleaning a little differently in that I do one room at a time from top to bottom or at least the very important middle. I like being able to walk out of a room, look back and see it looking as good as possible.

Best wishes
Jen in NSW
Jo said…
Hi Jen, no I am not superwoman, and life just gets in the way of the best laid plans!
I know you are a super organiser - if you have a housework routine posted somewhere, send me a link in the comments on the Friday routine post, and I'll link to it on my last post.

That is such a sensible idea working from top to bottom - the dirt always works its way down. I love to see a clean room too, and if I clean a room soon after the children go to school, I get to enjoy its cleanliness for almost SIX HOURS!

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