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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Routines and Decluttering

In my life before children, I worked full-time at an office job, came home after work, made supper, and watched tv.  Weekends were the time for laundry and housecleaning.  That was my routine.  It was simple and it worked.  Everything that needed to be done got done.  It wasn't something I thought about or made a plan for.  It was just the way I had learned from my mom.  She had worked full-time at an office.  Evenings in her home were supper and tv.  Weekends were laundry and cleaning.  I learned well, right?!

After my daughters were born, I stayed home with them.  And at first, it was great.  They were babies and stayed where I put them.  I could spend a whole day doing laundry.  And another day cleaning the house.  So the routine from before babies still worked..  for a while.

Those babies didn't always stay on the blanket in the living room while I vacuumed the bedrooms.  So I told myself I'd do it later, but then later never happened.  Before I knew it, my house was a disaster.  Really, it was a mess, and I had no idea how to deal with it.  I didn't know where to start.  I would choose a room to start in, but it was so overwhelming that I'd give up before making much progress.

And then I started buying stuff because I couldn't find the stuff I already had.  And as my babies became little and then bigger girls, I was buying them stuff too.  And I was buying even more stuff because we couldn't find the stuff they already had.  Before I even realized what was happening, I had a house full of stuff, but no one was having any fun with their stuff anymore.  And it was still a mess!

One day, I stumbled across and she gave me  a starting point.  She told me to go and shine my kitchen sink. So I did.  Then she told me I couldn't clean the clutter, and I had to begin by decuttering, 15 minutes at a time.  So I did.  I cannot even begin to tell you how many car or van loads of stuff I'd taken to the thrift store.  But slowly and surely, I am taking back my house and finding that  the stuff is actually just thin gs which have specific homes.

Now that the stuff is manageable, I've started cleaning, again little bits at a time, using routines. I spend a whole week in just one or two rooms of my house, usually doing just one cleaning task each day.  So no, the whole house doesn't get cleaned every week, but it does get cleaned every month.  Because really, how dirty does a picture on the wall get in a week?  But there are some things I do every day/week, like:  the bathroom gets a wipe down every morning after I take my shower and the kitchen is cleaned up before I go to bed.

I'm not saying in anyway that flylady is THE answer for everyone who is struggling with the routines that make a house into a home.  I'm just sharing with you the tool I use.  There are many systems out there.  Just do a google search for "home routines" and see what comes up.  Eventually, I will write down my flylady routines on index cards and that will be my routines, customized to me and my home.

My routines allow me to spend about 1/2 hour each day on housekeeping so I do have time to be More Than Just a Stay at Home Mom and do the things I enjoy -- playing with my daughter, crochet, baking bread and cookies, and dancing.

What kind of a system do you use for getting your housework done? Please share your thoughts and routines in the comments.


  1. I love the Miss Minimalist blog. There is always some kind of inspiration to get rid of something that is not adding to my life. If your house is open and clutter free cleaning is a snap. I bought two of her books and they are fun and inspirational to read.

  2. I'll have to look her up. While my first loyalty is to flylady, I know there are always little improvements I can make and reading about other people's successes always helps motivate me.


  3. I used to have routines out of necessity. Bill and I developed them together because I was going to university and working during the day and he worked graveyard shift. By the time I was in grad school, I was at school all day and Bill would pick Heather up at school. They'd both come across town to pick me up. I've done the cooking and we all did some cleaning, but we keep that to a minimum by living in small spaces and not allowing a lot of stuff in. I prefer wood floors that can be swept to carpets that need to be vacuumed, but of course, we take what we get, since we hate home improvement projects! My strategy has always been to keep things as simple as possible so I'd have time to do the important things in my life. I was busy in a crazy kind of way for a couple of years and I can tell you that when I was getting up at 2 a.m. to do my reading for school, then putting in a full day at school doing my own work and being a TA in class, having office hours, and seeing students, the last thing I wanted to do in the few hours of family time we had before Bill left for work and Heather went to bed was clean! He'd go to work; she'd go to bed; and I'd do 15 minutes of mindless crochet before crashing. We had a 900 sq ft house, so it didn't require much. One of us would spend 10 minutes most days sweeping from one end to the other, the dishes would get done as they were used, and I washed clothes when necessary and got them hung on the rack. Bill cut the grass and raked the leaves and I tended a garden in the spring, summer, and fall (it was Portland, OR, so a looong gardening season!). Now we are pretty loose about things. We are not busy and it's just the two of us--we are at a different stage of life. But I am, by nature, someone who is pretty organized, so I still have my routines now and often feel a little twinge when that routine gets disrupted :-)