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Candle in the Night

Friday, September 6, 2013

10 Steps to Start (or Re-Start) a Homemaking Routine

Some of you are new wives and mothers.  Others are just setting up your own space at college.  Some are experienced wives and mothers who have had a set routine at one point and are now at a place where you need to start over.

That's where I am.  I'm not a homemaker at heart.  I'm a creative mind who tends to be messy instead of neat.  I have to really work to keep my home tidy (read: livable).  It runs in my family...I can't be blamed.  :)  But that doesn't give me an excuse to not make my home a pleasant place for my family.  And so I work at it.

Right now, for me, it's time for a home reset.  I was down with morning sickness for four months, I started to get back to it, and then we had sickness hit our family and keep us down for another couple weeks.  My home has become a place I'm embarrassed to let people come into.  And I really hate that.  I love to be hospitable.  I love having company and welcoming family and friends in and I haven't been able to do that lately without just hiding the mess in a back bedroom.  So it's time to start again!

You may wonder what my credentials are for writing such a list.  Well, it's because I have a lot of experience starting over.  If this was a how-to about keeping your house clean for a year straight, I would not be the person to write it, but I've started over lots of times successfully.  So here you go!

1.  Catch up on the essentials!  This one can take several days.  You need to catch up to a place where you can live again.  That means, do all the laundry, get it at least mostly put away.  Wash the dishes and get the kitchen to where you can keep on top of things again.  Catch up on those two essentials and you've got a great jump-start!  

See?  It isn't perfect.  But the sink is empty and all the dishes to the right are clean.  There's still some trash on the counter
and a makeshift fruit fly trap (the paper cone) and a couple dishes that need washed.  Vinegar and sugar are out from breakfast.  It's definitely far from perfect, but it's livable.  I can continue to go uphill from here instead of downhill.  

2.  Clean ONE room!  Pick one room...probably the one you spend the most time in and get it clean.  Not squeaky clean, but livable and *relaxable* (yes, I did just make up a word!) clean.  You need a place to rest during this time when you're going to be working super hard.  I chose my living room.  The couches are clean and I can sit down and put my feet up in the living room to get away from the rest of the cleaning challenges.  I gave it a quick vacuum and cleared off a few of the flat surfaces so I could put a drink by my seat.  There is still dust in the corners and under the TV stand, there's still mail stacked on the piano, but it's not a total disaster.  And I can relax.  

3.  Give some things up!  This one is so, so important.  Now that you have a place to relax and you're caught up on the essentials, you need to pick a couple things to back off on so that you can get your house back where it needs to be.  This is also one I'm really bad at...  I chose to skip the Frumps to Pumps blog series over at The Modest Mom.  I really wanted to participate, but finally had to tell myself I just couldn't.  It was much more important that I get my house back together.  Then maybe I'll be able to focus on getting myself together!  I should probably find something else to give up, but right now, everything is something that I either HAVE to do or really WANT to do.  

4.  Get organized!  Over the course of the time I was down with morning sickness, we moved the girls into a room together and I really needed a new way to organize.  I was given these two shelves by my mom and I used them to organize!  Having something new always gives me a little motivation to keep up better.  Go out and buy a new shelf, go to a garage sale and pick up some drawers, even just get some little baskets to put in your dresser drawers.  Have you heard the saying, "A place for everything and everything in its place"?  It's so true!  If you have a bunch of small toys or things that don't have a place, they'll just get thrown somewhere they don't belong and keeping things neat will be more of a challenge.    
Our new toy bins!  Obviously, the shopping toys have been played with recently since that basket is empty...  :)  The top basket is random toys that don't go "with" anything.  I love these!  And I'm hoping they'll help H's room stay more organized!

5.  Clean your bathrooms!  Bathrooms tend to get pretty nasty when they don't get cleaned for a while.  Once you're caught up on your laundry and your one other room, give them a good cleaning.  When you walk into your clean bathrooms throughout the day, it'll make you feel good and give you a bit of motivation to keep going with the rest of your house!

A clean sink!  (This picture actually makes it look dirty...I think it's the light)  When I walk into a room that is clean, it motivates me to get the other rooms looking the same way!
6.  Take it one room at a time.  Now that you have your new organizational tools and your bathrooms clean, its time to get started.  Pick one room to start with and get busy!  There's a chance you'll spend a whole day in one room.  That's okay!  You're one day closer to a clean, organized home!  As you clean each room this time, do it 100%!  Pick up everything.  Clean all flat surfaces.  Dust, sweep, and vacuum.  Get it all done so that room is FINISHED!  Doesn't that word feel great!  (Don't forget the kitchen!  Since you just got the dishes caught up, you'll likely still need to clean the counters thoroughly, along with the floors, microwave, and fridge.)

7.  Finish up your "relaxing" room.  Remember step two?  Well, now's the time to go back to that room and get it cleaned WELL!  I'll be cleaning off the piano, dusting, sweeping behind the tv and desk, clearing off all flat surfaces.  Get it perfect!  It's your last step before the house is DONE!!  

8.  Develop a plan.  Spend some time on this one.  Don't just whip it together.  I don't do well with to-the-minute checklists, so I've created a planner with a general plan for each day that includes things to get done in the morning, afternoon, and evening.  Here is an example of my planner page.  It includes a list of the top five things to get done that day, a meal plan, an ongoing to-do list, an appointments section, exercise and water drinking section, shopping list, notes, and daily routine section.  When I follow this planner, my home stays neat and organized.  It's so amazing how well it works, really!  It's simple enough that it allows me to be flexible and yet stay organized.  If you'd like a fully-editable copy of my planner page to print off and use yourself, just sign up for my email list on the side and you'll receive a link taking you directly to a page where you can download it for free!  Even if you don't stick with the formatting, it's a great place to start!

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9.  Stick with it!  It's not always easy to remember to follow your routine.  I like to leave my planner open on the table or kitchen counter all day to help me remember.  I close it and leave it standing on the counter when company comes, but other than that, to stick with it, I have to leave it in my sight at all times!  

10.  Take a break!  Sometime in the middle of all this, you're going to need a break.  Trust me.  Unless you really aren't as messy as you think, you'll need a break.  Have a movie night with your husband.  Take your kids to the zoo for a day.  Sit down during nap time with a good book instead of cleaning.  Take a break or you'll get burned out and won't finish.  

BONUS!!  I always like to make a schedule when I start this kind of project.  It helps me to be able to mark things off a list and also helps to have a light at the end of the tunnel, so having a schedule is a great thing for me!  I've already completed steps 1-4, so I'm going to make my schedule for the rest of the steps.  Would you like to see it?  Here it is!  

Friday, Sept. 6: (That's today!)  Clean bathrooms (DONE!!  I got off of here for lunch and then got them cleaned before sitting back down to upload pictures!  Yay!!)
Saturday, Sept. 7:  Clean M's room
Sunday, Sept. 8: Break day!!
Monday, Sept. 9: Clean my bedroom
Tuesday, Sept. 10: Clean the dining room
Wednesday, Sept. 11: Clean the kitchen
Thursday, Sept 12: Clean the living room
Friday, Sept 13: Print planner pages and put in binder
Saturday, Sept 14: Start the routine!!  

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At September 6, 2013 at 9:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read a great book about house cleaning routines. It has really helped me stay on top everything. (Although I'm far from perfect.) The method is simple and effective, and I've been able to keep-up the routine for 4 months so far.

At September 6, 2013 at 9:54 PM , Blogger Jessica said...

I've heard great things about Sidetracked Home Executives! I need to read it! Thanks for the link. :)

At September 9, 2013 at 4:18 PM , Blogger Sarah said...

Love Love Love this. How did you know my cleaning routine, and tons of others, needed a boost.

I would be delighted to have you share this with our group of moms. Stop by to be encouraged as we have a guest post splashing us all in God's goodness. And as always, I would be crazy honored to have you link up.

Just moms. Sharing our notes. Creating a melody.

At September 9, 2013 at 9:13 PM , Blogger Jessica said...

Thank you Sarah! I'm glad you stopped by!

I went over to check out your link-up and really enjoyed the guest post as well! :)

At September 10, 2013 at 6:47 PM , Blogger momstheword said...

These tips are awesome! I also love reading about other people's cleaning tips and routine. I have a daily and a weekly schedule as well. My daily schedule includes two or three weekly things that I clean every week on that particular day (for example, on Wednesdays I clean the microwave). It doesn't mean that I don't wipe it out on any other day, it just means that I hit it for sure on Wed. If I miss it that week it's no big deal as I'll get to it the next week (or so it's supposed to go, lol!). Thanks for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday linky party!


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