So I know I can't be the only one with this problem, but my house is either spotless (because company is coming over) or completely out of control. There is no in-between. I had someone once tell me that I didn't need to stress so much about cleaning my house, because if I skip doing laundry today it just means I'll have to do two loads tomorrow. I'm not sure they understood my problem. If I skip doing laundry today, my family will be wearing dirty underwear tomorrow.
And I hate it. Everytime I get the house back under control I promise that I'll never let it get that bad again. But, within a few days it usually does. So, for the next 31 days I'm going to challenge myself (and my family) to not only get the house back under control, but to keep it that way. With another baby on the way, I don't really see how we have much choice!
Today I started by picking up while my daughter was taking her nap. Anyone who has children understands that cleaning while your toddler is awake is like trying to dry yourself off with the shower still on. It just doesn't work very well. So I took advantage of the uninterrupted time to clear away as much of the "clutter" as I could. While I was picking up, I paid attention to areas or activities that were causing the most problems. Here's what I observed:
1) I like to start projects, but I'm not very good at finishing them. Right now I have started packing my daughter's clothes that are too big or too small into plastic tubs. I have two vests that I've promised to sew patches on for members of my youth group. I've been collecting magazines and catalogs for a craft project I'm wanting to try. I have printed off pictures of my daughter to send to family members, but the office is such a mess I can't find the addresses I need to send them. I replaced the books in my daughter's room with her paperback books so I could put the board books in our living room. That way, when our newest little gets here he/she can look at books too without tearing them up. I've started all of these projects, but finished none of them so they are scattered all over our living room, dining room, and my office.
2) My family is collecting items for 12 Months of Christmas to donate to Operation Christmas Child, but there is no designated place to keep things so they end up laying in different places all around our house.
3) I'm bad about piling things on my husband's desk so he has taken over our dining room table for his work. This has caused two problems: 1) The table has become cluttered so we rarely eat there anymore. 2) Because we aren't eating at the dining room table, dirty dishes end up getting left in the living room.
4) My daughter has a kid sized table set up in the living room so she can color and play with Play-dough. It really doesn't fit in our living room so it blocks our walkway and collects lots of clutter.
5) I keep clothes washed and dried for my family, but I'm not so great at getting them folded, hung-up, and put away.
6) I don't make my daughter pick up her toys when she's done.
So, now that I've determined what our problems are, I need a plan. Since this is going to be a long-term change and not just a short-term goal, I understand that my plan may need to change throughout the 31 days, and that's okay. I have to start somewhere.
1) Make it a goal to spend at least 30 minutes a day of uninterrupted cleaning. Part of that 30 minutes will include folding and putting away laundry as it comes out of the dryer. My husband and I will start a 30 minute timer and a good podcast (We listen to the Wally Show Podcast from WAY-FM while we're cleaning) and get to work. Setting a timer helps keep me from getting distracted from my goal. The podcast makes is a little less intolerable.
2) Pick up my projects. My office/craft room is my new designated area for unfinished projects. I will not leave them in our family area or my husband's office.
3) Regain control of our dining room table so we can again eat dinner while looking at each other's faces.
4) Set up an area for my daughter to "work" on her own projects where she won't block the flow of the house.
5) Make picking up toys part of my daughter's nightly bedtime routine.
6) Use a cleaning checklist to be sure to tackle cleaning jobs that I would otherwise probably not do. I have chosen "The Dirty 30" from ao.com. Some of the jobs don't apply to my home so I switched them out with other jobs that do. For example, since I don't have a staircase I don't really see the need to wipe it down. Instead, that day I'll deep clean my daughter's carseat.
At the end of day 1, here's what I've accomplished:
1) I found a basket and put all of our shoebox donations in there.
2) I put away all but one toddler chair for my daughter. We only have one child in our house right now. There's no reason why shes needs four chairs in the living room.
3) I hung up clothes that were draped on the couch and recliner.
4) I photographed receipts I found on the dining room table. That way I can eliminate some of the paper clutter without losing any receipt information we may need to keep for records or reimbursement.
5) Picked up toys on the floor in the main living area. I didn't mess with my daughter's play area behind the couch because I knew once she woke up the toys would all be pulled out again, but I did clear our walkway of toys.
6) I only picked up something if I knew I could put it in its place. Some of our things don't have an actual "home", so I'm bad about picking them up and taking them to the room where they belong, but not the place they belong. This just adds to the clutter of the room without ever fixing the problem.
7) I picked up any dishes that were in the living and dining rooms and took them to the kitchen.
8) I took things out of plastic bags. When I leave things in plastic bags it just makes things look more cluttery and difficult to find. Instead, I put them away or moved them to a basket so I could actually see what I had inside.
9) Folded the blankets that we keep in the living room. I also folded my daughter's Batman towel since she likes to cuddle with it instead of an actual blanket.
10) Made piles for things that need to leave my house. Things I've borrowed and haven't yet returned, things that I plan to donate, things that need to be taken to the recycling center, etc.
11) I closed doors to rooms we weren't using. I know this doesn't actually make the house any cleaner, but it makes it look cleaner which is encouraging.
So, with my plan in place, and a jumpstart on my cleaning, I'm ready to start my 31 Days of Cleaning!