"If the shelves are dusty and the pots don't shine,
it's because I have better things to do with my time."
~ Author unknown
Diary of a once a month cleaning day in action:
The night before: The kids are taking a bath, so I'm able to change a few sets of sheets on beds upstairs. I put other sheets in the wash so they'll be ready in the morning. (Doing this makes me feel like I have a headstart on the day's work tomorrow!)
6:45 am, Cleaning Day - I wake up with purpose and get busy. Seems like the perfect time to declare a "hat day" instead of fixing hair. By the time the kids are ready for breakfast, I've finished changing the rest of the sheets and have dusted a few rooms upstairs too.
9:00 am - After breakfast I send the kids outside to play in the backyard. This is our normal morning routine--usually I use this time to work on the blogs. But today it's all about the cleaning. So I get started in the dining room, kitchen, and half-bath. These are the areas where I can work while still keep an eye on them.
11:00 am - Kids came inside 30 minutes ago and had a snack. Then we sat on the couch and read stories together. Now they're watching a video while I vacuum and mop the downstairs floors. They don't usually watch videos in the mornings, so they're excited and I can work uninterrupted. I'm enjoying seeing my cleaning list get shorter as the hours go by!
12:00 pm - We eat lunch after the video is finished. Then the kids start their sections, a part of our day I've written about before. While they play, I'm able to finish up the last bit of the downstairs cleaning. It's smelling and looking good around here!
2:00 pm - Now it's rest time. This is when I usually write, but not on cleaning days. Instead I would like to curl up and take a nap. But there is more to do. So after a short rest, I rally myself to clean the upstairs bathroom. Now I just have to vacuum upstairs and I'll be done! I know I can fit that in before the end of the day.
I find that this is the time of day when once a month cleaning doesn't seem so fun anymore...tiredness kicks in. My strategy is to remember that I'm in the homestretch and that Steve is bringing pad thai home for dinner soon! (And remember: You can always divide the cleaning between two days if you have young kids at home.)
6:00 pm - I'm done--victorious and exhausted all at the same time! After rest time we had a snack, read more stories, gave the kids baths, and played together. Then I finished vacuuming upstairs after Steve arrived home.
Now I plan to spend the evening relaxing with my Pad Thai and watching Dancing with the Stars...I mean...Shakespeare. Yes, reading Shakespeare is exactly what I'll be doing!!
For the sake of authenticity, here are a few before and after shots:
Living Room, Before:
Dining Room, After:
Downstairs bathroom, Before: (I forgot to take an after picture.)
My Bedroom, Before:
My Bedroom, After:
The before and after shots don't look radically different, do they? Yes, you may say, there are no closeups of dusty shelves. But isn't this the view visitors take on our homes? Isn't it the view our own children take? Exactly who is going around with a finger on the baseboards?
Our home is known for the way it makes others feel. Cleanliness is a part of that, but only one small part. I've been in homes so clean I felt nervous instead of welcomed. Friends and our own children will remember the way our home made them feel.
Whatever cleaning system you choose, make sure you choose it with intention. Think about why you're doing what you're doing. Are they the right motives or are they fall-back autopilot motives?
I stand behind these words by Rudyard Kipling:
"You sometimes see a woman who would have made a Joan of Arc in another century and climate, threshing herself to pieces over all the mean worry of housekeeping."
Sweet mamas, we were meant to do great, world-changing things. We have missions and callings to fulfill in a hurting world that desperately needs what we have to offer.
No matter how you choose to clean (& there are many valid ways to do so), don't allow yourself to be frittered away by insignificant details. Don't hold yourself to a standard that nobody else has given you, serving it like a voluntary jail sentence.
Live your life from a place of freedom. Start with how often you choose to grab your mop.