I never had a problem cleaning before Baby A arrived, and even after he arrived for a short period I still battled on cleaning the way I knew how until everything fell in a heap.
I used to clean the same way that I did everything – the all or nothing approach. I would tidy up a bit maybe if I used the kitchen or bathroom for example, but for the most part I wouldn’t clean at all and then once a week dedicate a large block of time to thoroughly cleaning. Because I had the luxury of large blocks of free time. Not so anymore.
By the way, my wonderful husband is the type of person who sees that someone needs help, and silently picks up undone tasks. So while I was becoming more and more incapable of doing things due to being consumed by my perceived inability to provide basic care to Baby A, he took on more and more, which I really don’t think was good for his mental state at all 🙁. What a pair we are. I felt so relieved once I was in hospital knowing that he too would get a bit of a break! I know that there are some people out there that somehow survive working long hours and doing all the housework – I feel like they must be either very special motivated and organised people, or silently struggling with having no down time.
Decluttering as per the Konmari method is perfect for me, because just like me, she is an all or nothing type, the type of person who leaves things to the last minute and then puts one hundred percent into it. Make it into a big project, do it once, so it right, and never do it again!
Decluttering certainly makes it easier to keep clean and tidy. But, whilst reading her book I had this niggling thought in the back of my head – what about regular cleaning?? Not having clutter doesn’t magically make your house un-dirtyable.
I tried making little lists of mini chores I could do as I went about the day, and allotted small amounts of time when Baby A was sleeping to do express cleans of each area in the house. I was trying to make it seem ‘easier’ to trick myself into doing it. It kind of worked for awhile, but then it seemed like I would easily find something more important to do and end up sidelining chores. Then family member X would turn up and I would suddenly notice what a mess it was and run around the house with Baby A on my hip trying to make the house kind of acceptable looking.
I really think I was stuck in that mentality of leaving cleaning until I had that big block of time to do it all in one go. It obviously wasn’t about how ‘easy’ the chores were either, it seemed like it was about what was a priority in my mind at the time.
It’s awful how the way you think can really limit you! I feel almost cheated or something because I’ve cruised along in life with this mindset and only now it’s been challenged. I know at work I’ve always been ‘typecast’ into roles where I kind of float around doing urgent big analytical projects that noone wants to do. Whilst other people seem to have more regular work and are more multiskilled, it seemed like I was kept in the wings to be deployed on these projects, and in my spare time providing analytical support to other sections. Perfect for me! Right in my comfort zone. I wonder whether I could be a better worker if I was put outside that comfort zone though… But I digress.
I thought that surely there was someone out there like me, so I searched for books on cleaning that might kind of speak to me. Among all the seemingly ‘easy’ cleaning methods, I found a book called ‘How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind: Dealing With Your Houses Dirty Little Secrets’ by Dana K White. I think what drew me to this one was that it seemed as though she had a similar background – having worked full time to suddenly being at home and realising this struggle with housework and feeling shameful for it. While about of the other methods seem to assume you have some sort of organisation skills already, and are naturally motivated to do the work. I like how Dana is honest about not being one of those people, it made me feel ok admitting the same to myself. There are very good reviews too 😊. Unfortunately, because it is a relatively new release, I don’t seem to be able to get it in my country without paying more for shipping than for the book! So I am patiently waiting for that to change, or for a kindle version to be available. Luckily she has an excellent blog detailing her ‘deslobification’ journey: A Slob Comes Clean. Her honest style has been an inspiration for my blog!
So, I have been slowly adding little daily tasks I can do without thinking too much about them, and which make a big impact on how clean the house feels, and how I feel! I really relate with her discovery that keeping the kitchen in working order makes a difference to everything else, because it really gets dirty quickly. I had been leaving this job to my poor husband, who would come home to dishes and mess spread all over the place, which he would clean up before making dinner 😢 And he never complained once. He has been especially overworked in the last few weeks, so it was a good motivation for me to add a new kitchen task each week to take a bit of the load of him.
The tasks I have added over the last few weeks are:
Emptying the dishwasher in the morning (keeps the kitchen tidy all day)
Sweeping the kitchen floor
Making the bed
Doing a load of washing
These are some of the first tasks Dana also put on her ‘daily checklist’ and I can really see why. These tasks already feel small to me so it feels like they have naturally become habits.
Dana blogged everyday about her daily tasks to stay accountable, but my blog isn’t just about cleaning, nor do I have faith in my ability to blog everyday! So I have chosen to use an app to record my lists since I know I look at my phone at least once a day. The app is called Habitica – it gamifies habits and task check-lists. I am a nerd 🤓 so gamifying anything makes me more likely to do it, and if I forget to do my tasks I lose health and miss out on experience and coins! No thank you!
So that was a longish post. I’ve decided in the next task I am adding to my list which I will talk about in a near future post. I like that adding a small task each week gives you time to think about what other small things you can do to make a big difference, while the other daily tasks become second nature. I’ve cheated so far and only used tasks that Dana roadtested already on her blog, so it’s time for me to think about what will make a difference for me 😁.