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You know, being the insanely popular, superb-housekeeper that I am, people often ask me,
“Girl, how do you do it? How do you keep such a perfectly clean home?”
To which I humbly respond in a nasal English accent,
“Darling, it’s in my genes. I was born with this super power.”
I’m kidding. Seriously.
Trust me when I say, no one, and I mean NO ONE, has ever asked me such a ludicrous question.
This girl’s house is lived in… if you catch my drift.
I actually just finished scraping my son’s embedded fruit and grain bar off the hardwood floor, so… you can imagine.
The more likely question for someone to ask upon entering my home would be “How old is that?” whilst simultaneously pointing at a mutilated blueberry streusel smashed into crevices you never even knew you had in your own home.
Unless you also have a toddler. Then you know about those crevices… and you also know about maimed breakfast pastries.
Actually… in years past, I’ve been the floundering wife that stepped into the pristine homes of acquaintances and wondered what mysterious secret they were keeping from the rest of us.
Was it a profound love of cleaning? An OCD gene? An undercover maid? Are they just a “clean-freak”?
I’ve been at this wife thing a few years now, (almost 4 to be exact) and I think I *might* have figured out where their answer lies.
I guarantee that if I asked my heroine housewives how they are able to accomplish such a feat, the word “routine” would be used in their response to the inquiry.
They get up every day, and, like clock-work, do certain things that keep chaos far away from their pretty rooms.
And for those of us who aren’t used to, or accustomed to operating in that fashion, it’s easy to say “Man, I wish I was like that…”, throw a “clean freak” label at them, and then go back to our slovenly approach to housekeeping. We can find comfort in assuming that the reason their home is so superbly glistening is because they must love and adore the very act of cleaning. They possess that abstract clean-gene that God failed to bestow upon us….
And since we don’t have it….
It makes a pretty good excuse to throw in the towel and stop trying.
It’s time you kick that mentality to the curb.
Because it’s simply not true.
You can have a clean house even if you despise cleaning and have absolutely no motivation to tackle it. Even if you have a messy husband or a hoarding relative taking up residence. Even if you have a crew of lazy teenagers or a couple of grubby toddlers. Even if you are struggling with some circumstance or situation that is inhibiting you from your regular pace of household chores.
And the answer to achieving it is simple.
Plain ol’ simple routine.
I know that there are people who really do love to clean, and some who make a hobby out of polishing the silverware, scouring the sinks and waxing the fruit in their baskets, but generally speaking…
A clean house boils down to someone who has a consistent routine that has been established and successfully maintained.
It’s not a super-power you were supposed to receive when you said “I do”, or a gene you failed to inherit.
It’s a discipline.
It’s just buckling down and saying “I want a clean house” and “This is what I have to do each day to get it.”
If you loathe cleaning, it’s probably not the cleaning that you hate so terribly…. It’s the result of your slack. The mountain of dishes because you skipped them for a few days…. The sea of laundry that swallows you whole because you procrastinated…. The pile of clothes that never gets put away because you ignore it… What you hate is feeling overwhelmed and stressed out and that’s what happens when you let things slide over and over.
Putting those tasks in a proper routine gives you the priceless liberty of recognizing that,
“HEY! I don’t have to do it all right now!”
Eventually, there won’t be a mountain of laundry, because you’re doing a load a day… washing, drying and putting away! There won’t be an insurmountable load of dishes because you did yesterday’s dishes yesterday. There won’t be cluttery chaos lasting for an eternity in every room, because every day you spend 15 special minutes knocking out that crazy. The progress you achieve in routine is so significant that you will find yourself stunned at the speed of transformation in your home. As you build and modify a routine, you form habits, and those habits begin to put your home on auto-pilot. No more crisis moments where the baby is screaming and out of clean bottles at the same time, and hubby is sad because there are no clean towels, and panicking because he’s out of whites! Those things won’t happen when routine has swooped into the rescue!
And there’s something else that’s incredible about routine. It gives you the opportunity to let go of the “weight of everything”. You don’t have to stress about the dust bunnies under the couch because you know that there’s a day allotted for those! You don’t have to carry Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s burdens on Monday. If it’s Monday, you just take care of Monday!
You can do your chores and blissfully accept that you are done for the day.
Absolutely, 100% free to do whatever you wish!
Imagine… being able to sit down and enjoy that book without the guilt of a house spiraling out of control!
Earlier this year I sat down and assessed my home, my responsibilities, and my family dynamic and I developed a rotation system to accommodate these things. I made a list of what I knew needed to be done every single day and built the core of my routine. From there, I developed a weekly rotation for things that didn’t need to be done everyday, but may need to be done once or twice a week. After that, I created an “area” system, for deeper maintenance on a longer rotation schedule. This is where things like windows get washed, and ceiling fans dusted.
My daily routine has things like “a load of laundry”, a “load of dishes”, as well as certain “weekday tasks” and a “special area mission.” My chores have fun names like “a lick and a promise”, “high five” and “squeaky clean”, which, for me, makes them appealing and adventurous.
In the past several months I have been tweaking and tailoring my routine to perfectly suit our world. I’ve removed what doesn’t work, added a little more of what does.
My entire relationship with housekeeping has been transformed because I have found such unbelievable freedom and joy in the ease and simplicity of routine. For years I desperately longed to embrace those things God has called me to do as a wife, but I couldn’t surrender “my way” of doing things. My way was gigantic efforts to “do it all” and have it all done “this instant” and keep it done by patrolling my clean areas and getting flustered if someone messed them up. I don’t have to live like that anymore. I don’t have to rush into the bathroom 50 times a day to put away whatever new objects my hubby has drawn out of a cabinet and left by the sink. I don’t have to choose between policing in frustration and completely giving up anymore.
God, in all of His wisdom, proved to me that my role as a wife and a mother does not have to be a stressful one. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and it doesn’t even have to be mundane! It can be (and now IS) a way of peace and comfort, and it’s now actually loads of FUN! Can you believe it?
What has historically been a paralyzing burden of chaos in my life, is now the thing I now look forward to most when I get up in the morning. When the alarm goes off, I can hardly wait to check my wall and see what special task is awaiting me. Will it be a “Squatter Squash” (evicting clutter)? Or a “Room Rescue” (15 minutes on the timer)? Or maybe that task I’ve been itching to see done will show up on the chart for today!
There are so many things to tend to in a house, and without routine, I felt like I was fighting back an army of 10,000 with a straw and spit wads. With a routine? My house is tidier than ever. Some mornings I can’t even find enough dishes to start the dishwasher. Sometimes, I’m done with all of my chores in less than an hour and I just embrace that bizarre feeling that I’ve got an entire day to simply enjoy.
No laundry to fold. No backlog to worry about. No explosions to zap my joy.
And that’s pretty cool.
Because this chick wasn’t born with clean-genes.