My mind and surroundings are a mess. Not a cute, kinda quirky unmade bed mess; a what's that in the bottom of my handbag? Oh a satsuma covered in mold mess. This is weird because both my parents have a near pathological commitment to sanitation. My mother lists cleaning as a pastime and becomes genuinely anxious if her carpet fibres are lying the 'wrong' way. My father is the most mild mannered man you will ever meet. When I phoned to tell him I had eloped he said,
'Well at least I won't have to do a speech now.' He's the epitome of calm until you put a fork in the knife section of the dishwasher. Perhaps it's not weird that they're as they are and I'm the slatternly, wench that I am - what is parenting but a lifelong experiment in disappointment? And in this regard I am very much a disappointment but I promise, it's not like I haven't tried.
Until recently my cleaning routine went something like this: Spend a large portion of the weekend creating a sweet-smelling oasis of calm; stay as still as can, for as long as possible, in an effort to maintain this; watch helplessly as my home descends into chaos as the week unfolds; start the process again. Then I had a baby and cleanliness became not just a nice to have but a necessary. I had visions of the midwife hitting speed dial to social services before I had even closed the front door behind her. (This is not hyperbole, I really thought this. Post natal anxiety is the real deal). So I started to study my friends, the ones that didn't need a ninety minute warning before your arrival. I quizzed my tidiest compadre over coffee (out of very shiny mugs) one morning. How do you do it? I wanted to know. She thought for a minute before saying,
'Well when I use something, I put it back where I got it from.' And the light of my realisation flooded her kitchen. I couldn't keep treating cleaning like a weekly war, I had to address the battles daily, little but very often. From this I developed my low effort cleaning routine.
Required reading for this routine is Marie Kondo's, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and The Fly Lady website; both are amazing resources for learning to deal with overwhelm. Start with Marie whose main missive is to get rid of all your stuff; the less stuff you have, the less stuff you need to keep clean. Once you're down to the bare bones, this is my system for keeping it vaguely in order.
BATHROOM FIRST Do the bathroom as soon as you've woken up. Seriously, pee and then clean. You're in there anyway and you can reward yourself with a shower when you're done. If you do nothing else today at least if someone visits your home, they won't worry about getting a communicable disease from your loo seat.
DRESS THEN MESS After getting Roscoe dressed I do a super quick clear up of his room and encourage him to help. I might be a mess but it's not too late for him.
LIVING ROOM AFTER LIGHTS OUT Particularly if you're home with kids I think it's a lost cause cleaning up in the day. I think the perfect time for giving the living room a once over is after the kids are in bed. You'll have the little boost of energy freedom has given you and creating a nice clean space will help to set the tone for the adult part of your day.
KITCHEN IN YOUR PJs A lot of people do the kitchen after dinner and if you can do this it makes sense but I like to eat sweets and slob on the sofa after dinner, so that time has already been allocated. If I clean up any earlier than just before bed I will invariably litter the place toast crumbs later on in the evening, and there's nothing sweeter than getting up in the morning and making coffee in a sparkling clean kitchen (someone else getting up and making coffee is sweeter obviously but I'm working with what I've got).
BEDROOM BEFORE BED Just before getting into bed I make sure all my clothes are hung up properly and pick up any debris that has found it's way into my boudoir. I think by doing this my subconscious can get a head start on pulling an outfit together for the morning and I'm convinced that getting your head down in a tidy room helps you to sleep better. I can think of no reason why this would be true but a little white lie that gets you cleaning is fine right?
I'd love to hear about your cleaning routine.photo credit: dharder9475 024/365: The cleaner via photopin (license)