I know there are domestic goddesses out there that do it all. Their houses sparkle and smell like lavender, lemon, and fresh baked bread. But the rest of us must settle with doing the best we can with our time and energy. And besides, cleaning up after small children feels a lot like Einstein's definition of insanity.
Early in my relationship with my husband, it became apparent that I was not a domestic goddess, and so I did what I always do in times of crisis. I made a list. I wrote out what needed to be done every day and then what needed to be done weekly so that our family could function happily and comfortably.
The list doesn’t have to be rigid. It can be vague or specific, written, typed, or in your head. Whatever works for you. My own lists have changed and continue to change as our family grows more numerous and our children get older. At first, I preferred a specific list, and I kept it on my cell phone. I looked at it everyday. Now, my list is general and I rarely look at it. It is ingrained in the way I go about my day. As long as the list helps you to focus on what matters most, it is doing its job.
After much experimentation, the only recommendation I have is that your list should stay focused on the tasks that need to happen every 1-3 days. The weekly list can be helpful, but, at least for me, a week long view widens my focus too much, and I become overwhelmed.
I put together a list of some questions to help get you thinking about tasks that might take priority.
What room of your home does your family spend the most time?
We spend most of our time in our living room which doubles as a playroom. Keeping this room reasonably clean is one of our top cleaning priorities.
What aspects of that room does your family need clean in order to make use of and enjoy it?
The couch needs to be clear of toys, there cannot be anything breakable or dangerous within reach of the children. The floor needs to be vacuumed.
What do you need to be organized to cook, eat, clean, get to work on time and enjoy your children?
I need to have a clean kitchen or I cannot function. Our kitchen is small. It doesn’t take much clutter to clog my counter top. The dinner table needs to be clean.
How often do you need to do laundry?
For most people, laundry has to happen at least every three days so I include it here. We try to do a load or two every 2-3 days, but laundry is something we struggle to keep up with.
What grosses you out? Does your kitchen floor have to be spotless or you cannot even look at it?
Oddly enough, I’m not sure anything random grosses me out, but I know people have pet peeves to take into consideration.
To see how my answers translate into my priorities, check out this post.
Once you answer these questions, you should be able to make a list of the tasks that are important to you. You can use your list every day when it comes time to figure out what task needs to be completed with the most urgency. You don’t have to do everything on the list every day. If your playroom doesn’t need to be vacuumed, don’t do it!
So what does your list look like?