In this post Jennifer shares her evolving thoughts on implementing a cleaning schedule. The first time someone suggested the idea, she balked at it. In time though, Jennifer decided to give it a try. What she found may suprise you just as it suprised Jennifer. Scheduling tasks like cleaning can give you a tremendous sense of  freedom…and even room for spontonaeity! What works for you? Do you prefer to have a cleaning schedule…or does your life work better with out one? 

Sometime between the birth of our first and second children, my good friend Janice (who is such a good friend that she had children roughly the same time I did, except for she went for a third child because she is an overachiever like that) began talking about her “cleaning schedule.” I tuned her out for a while. It sounded a bit to akin to “Meatloaf Monday” or something equally as rigid. But Janice is gorgeous and brilliant and accomplished, so eventually you just have to ask her How do you do it? Her answer in this instance was to clean by a schedule.

Cleaning tote

I laughed. I shuddered. I balked. And then I broke down and gave it a try. I had worked full-time for years before having my daughter, Joy. Janice was quick to point out that in my job, I had not just shown up for work and drifted through the week. There were things on my calendar each day – meetings to attend, calls to make, tasks to accomplish – so why not operate that way in my new career as a stay-at-home mom? Janice makes a good point, doesn’t she? So I created a schedule based on hers and gave it a go.

Immediately I felt a huge relief. I found that I could walk across the Cheerio-ridden kitchen floor on Monday with acceptance because I knew that cleaning floors was a task for Tuesday. It made my workload seem more manageable, and I felt much better when I opted to take Joy to the park instead of trying to tackle the endless housework.

When Joy was 4 and my youngest daughter, Faith, was 2, I went back to work on a part-time basis, working every other week. I tried to maintain my schedule, but what quickly happened was that I would keep up with housework one week and keep up with my job the next. It was good in the sense that it was still somewhat of a routine, but looking back on it now I see it would have alleviated so much pressure if I’d come up with a schedule. Even if it had been a “light-duty” week for my workweeks, combined with a “heavy duty” schedule on my weeks off, it would have helped. Ah, hindsight.

Cleaning cloths

Once I knew I would be transitioning to new hours at my new job at simplify 101, I decided to dust off the ol’ schedule. I revamped it to work with how our life works, intentionally leaving room on Friday for catching up (or slacking off). I also kept Sunday virtually blank since that is our family’s day for rest and fun time. All I do is menu plan that day, which takes little time and sort of helps me focus and plan on the week ahead anyway.

I keep my list posted in the kitchen inside a page protector and use a dry erase marker to check things off or make new notes as I go.  This also helps me in recruiting help from the rest of my family. Anyone can plainly see at the end of the day or week what hasn’t been done.

Cleaning schedule

What about the tasks that are not spelled out on the list? I struggled with that one my first time around, but this time I’ve struck on something that’s working well at our house. When I see those things that are bothering me but I don’t have time to deal with right then, I note it on my schedule as an “extra cleaning job.” I know there are so many ways to deal with the extra jobs in an organized fashion — tickler files, monthly checklists, seasonal routines — but I’m not there yet! This way I’m at least dealing with the stuff that’s irritating me most (cobwebs on the light fixture!) and feeling good that there’s room in the routine for it.

It’s not a perfect system, and I continue tweaking it as I go. I think it’s also worth telling you that I don’t check everything off each week, and I don’t honestly expect to. That’s too much pressure! If there’s a chore that gets skipped or glossed over, I make a dot next to it and give it more attention the following week. And for now, this routine is serving my family pretty well – helping us stay on top of the housework instead of buried under it, and helping us make space for the really important stuff, like family fun time together!

How about you? We’d love to hear about your cleaning habits and routines. Leave us a comment below.


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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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