How many of you are now humming the “Cleanup Song” in your heads? And maybe looking around at whatever room you’re sitting in thinking “yeah, I should get to it at some point…” Keeping your space clean when you’re also working full time and trying to keep two tiny humans alive seems like an impossible task sometimes. It’s like I blink and suddenly 3 weeks have gone by and I’m not exactly sure what that spot of sticky stuff under Cassi’s high chair is or when it even got there, but it seems to be growing fuzz.
There are very few things that stress me out more than sitting in a dirty house, so you would think that I had figured out how to keep up with the tiny human tornados by now. I haven’t. Instead, I come home after a long day at work and walk into the mess we left from the morning rush (and yesterday’s evening rush, and yesterday’s morning rush, and the evening rush from the day before… you get the idea). It immediately sets me on edge at a low level. But I have to start the marathon of unpacking work bags and lunch boxes, washing bottles and diapers, doing something with the art that Ari made at school that day, dumping the mail on the counter, starting dinner, washing the dishes we left from breakfast, putting away dishes on the drying rack to make room for dinner’s dishes when we are done eating, trying to keep cranky overtired kids from melting down, feeding them dinner (and hopefully scarfing down my own), then baths, jammies, bedtimes… THEN coming back to wash bottles and the dishes from dinner, pack lunches for tomorrow, repack school and work bags, etc. It’s seems like it doesn’t end until I crash on my pillow. So that low level mess of papers, kids toys, random shoes, toys, crumbs on the counter and the floor, etc. is just never done. Then we come downstairs in the morning to the mess and the low-level-back-of-my-mind stress starts all over again.
Lent started on Wednesday and every year I give something up for the 40 days. I love this practice, because it can do so many things to change you and your life for the better. You can give up something big to help with empathy, like spending money or your car (and using public transportation). You can give up something to help grow your relationships, like TV or social media (and spend the time with family and friends instead). You can give up something small for your health, like caffeine or soda. I saw the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge circling around social media this year (give up your clutter!) and generally liked the idea BUT I didn’t feel like we were prepared to tackle an undertaking like this at this point (but I’m looking at you 2018 for this!). Eliminating clutter and cleaning are two sides of the same coin though, so that got me thinking about our never ending mess. I thought about modifying the challenge to “give up” the mess and therefore, get rid of this constant, low-level stress that I’ve been living with. But how do you accomplish such a monumental task??? I’ve be trying (and failing) at keeping the house cleaned since Ari was born. Now with two girls, it seemed even more impossible.
I started with listing out all of the tasks I though were needed to have the house at the level of “clean” that I wanted. Then I laughed and lowered my expectations a tad. I ended up creating a list that seemed manageable, only adding about 2 hours of total cleaning per week to our plates. At first glance, 2h seems like a lot of time, but when you break it down to daily amounts, thats 15 minutes each weekday and 45 minutes on one weekend day. Then I showed the plan to the Hubs and got him on board with it. He picked half of the items that he would do and I’ll do the other half. After that, I made a little chart to help keep us on track.
It’s day 3 right now, but we’ve managed to complete all the daily tasks each night so far (and it’s taken less than 15 minutes). For the rest of lent, we are “giving up” the 15 minutes each day to complete the daily tasks. The weekly and monthly tasks will get worked into the schedule after the daily tasks become routine. Already the last two days, I’ve noticed a difference in the mornings and evening with the girls. I get downstairs in the morning (or walk in in the evening) and immediately feel better about being here. The girls must have been sensing my grouchiness before, because they have both been calmer and happier so far (added WIN for us! Hopefully it keeps up). I’ll check in at the end of this experiment to let you know how it went overall. Here’s to new habits and reduced stress!
Do you have a cleaning schedule laid out? What are your favorite tips and tricks? Or are you like we were and laughing at the thought of cleaning anything?