Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cleaning & organizing

A friend posed the question, "What do YOU do?" on her blog as it pertains to house-keeping. I like this question because I used to be a real "neat freak" (often called A.R. by my former roommates—which describes a person with such attention to detail that the obsession becomes an annoyance to others). Somehow God broke me of that "idol" in my life!

Now, I must say, I do SO love order. It is in my genetic makeup! (For example, when at the store looking at greeting cards, I have to restrain myself from re-organizing the ones that are out of order.) But slowly God has helped me not to have to have EVERY SINGLE THING in place. Like the utensil drawer. I think it would be excellent to have each stack of spoons, forks, and knives perfectly aligned—oh the beauty! At some point many years ago I stopped noticing when they aren't stacked perfectly. But I digress...

Back to the topic of house-cleaning. Given my mainly melancholy personality, I would probably be most prone to the "neat freak" method of cleaning, where everything MUST be spic & span at all times. But it enslaves you at the expense of your kids and other important things. Something has to give—BUT it doesn't have to be all or nothing! (I recommend working that out with the Lord's help.)

I currently use the "I clean it when I can't stand it any longer" method of cleaning. For some people that would never work, because they'd never notice something needed cleaning! For me, it means I swiffer and vacuum once a week; clean the main bathroom once a week (or sometimes more often, since I have a 4-year-old boy whose aim isn't 100% perfected); dust about once a month; and wash the kitchen floor less than once a month (I can't believe I just admitted that publicly!).

I have also tried the "days of the week" method, but I couldn't stay faithful to it for some reason.

Keeping the clutter at bay is my biggest "trick" to being satisfied with the state of my house. For example, my kitchen doesn't have to be 100% sanitized and spotless—but a cluttered kitchen only lasts around here for half a day at the most—I can't stand it—it's like having a radio tuned between two different stations—I can hardly think straight! Just taking 10-15 minutes to put dishes away, wipe the counters, etc. gives me much more peace.

I also try to keep piles of stuff minimal. I wish I could say I've eradicated them altogether, but as I type, I have a small pile on either side of the keyboard. Maybe a large part of keeping the piles to a minimum is not procrastinating? After all, my piles usually contain things I don't want to forget about (like a utility bill that needs follow-up, a check that needs to be deposited, a few magazines I'd like to peruse when I have some leisure time). So here's one of my favorite solutions—I used my Christmas money to buy it!—this basket ladder a.k.a. basket wall organizer.

I love it! I keep my son's homeschool stuff in it, the latest grocery store ad, etc. Very handy. I highly recommend!

OK, so I kind of got off the topic of cleaning. It's a necessary evil, I guess! But you know what they say: your kids won't remember if your house was spic & span, but they WILL be left with an impression of how they felt about the time they spent at home with you!


Nikki said...

These are great thoughts, Sara! I must say I like your "clean when I can't stand it any longer" method. I think I'll end up finding a happy medium between that and using the days of the week method for a few things. :) Piles KILL me, too...I like that organizer suggestion. Thanks for sharing!

Chris said...

Sara - thanks for stopping by my blog! In the comments on my homeschooling post, I responded to your worry about opposition to your choice to homeschool. Very normal feeling, especially as you first start out.

I like your post about cleaning. Although I'm not a neat freak, I do like an organized house and I used to keep our home much cleaner until I had kids! I had to learn to lower my standards a bit, partly due to necessity as I've struggled with health issues. Like you, I clean things when I can't stand it anymore!

I learned to choose the areas that I need to stay on top of more, for my own sanity. That includes the kitchen (my day goes much better if the kitchen is picked up and uncluttered - except for that one area of papers & lists, etc!) and the main living room and the master bedroom. Other things can go longer.

A trick I love for our main bathroom - I keep a designated washcloth right next to the hand towel, and use it to do a quick counter/sink wipe every time I use the bathroom. It keeps the sink area looking cleaner and I can go longer before doing an official cleaning. It's become a habit and only takes 10 seconds!