Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Hate Chores: Family Home Cleaning Plan

Don't mind the photos...apparently I have next to none of our house. It's a sad situation. So you get these few from about 5 years ago. I'll work on getting pictures sometime this year since I have a project in the fall that will require them.
Guess what? I'm going to do an actual post relating to the March topic of cleaning & organization. Go me!

So here's the deal...I hate cleaning my house. Seriously. I despise it. After Collin and I have been working all day and Darian has been at school, the last thing we want to do is to come home and clean and do chores. We certainly don't like to use up our weekend time to take care of it.

But...we don't enjoy living in squalor either, so there has to be a compromise.

About three years ago, I tried to get us on a new system to keep the house clean. It was one that I found over at FlyLady. It was super helpful at getting us going, but there were a couple of flaws. We could handle the basics, but the daily reminders for specific tasks went to my email. At the time, I didn't have a smart phone that handled email well, so they often went unread. I didn't check them at home...I checked them at the office. And by the time I got home, I forgot what the task was or I just gave up on it. The other issue was that her system is based on a much simpler home layout. It just didn't work for us. We needed something more detailed to our needs.

We ended up ditching the system and just going to a "clean as needed" cycle. That has been obnoxious. Things often don't get done when they should and laundry in particular became a headache. I can't tell you how many times loads got left in the washer for a few days and then had to be rewashed or they made it to the dryer but then wound up being "fluffed" several times before they actually got folded. Most recently, our laundry seems to stay in the laundry room once it's been folded rather than making its way back to our closets. I was about ready to pull my hair out.

It was time for something new.

So...using some of the FlyLady's basics, I decided to build my own cleaning schedule for the three of us. Darian is old enough to pitch in fairly well, so it makes divvying up the chores much more simple.

The basic principle to follow is KISS...Keep It Simple, Stupid. In the world of FlyLady, this means keeping things divided into tasks that can usually be handled in 15 minutes or less. Anyone can do something for 15 minutes. By keeping tasks small and divided throughout the week, we should be able to keep from getting overly burnt out. That's the hope.

There were a few other considerations for us.

First of all, not everything is on the schedule. Most notably, you'll notice that there isn't any mention of feeding any of the pets. That's because this isn't specifically assigned to anyone. Darian usually feeds the cats in the morning, but if he's not going to school or Collin or I leave earlier than he needs to be up, then one of us do it. And when he's at his mom's house on the weekends, Collin and I share the responsibility. The dogs are kind of a similar situation, it varies. I didn't want to deal with too many variables when putting this together, so I just steered clear of that stuff.

Secondly, Collin's schedule can be a bit crazy. There are nights that he isn't home until 11pm. Sometimes he's gone for 2-3 days at a time. So I needed to keep his chores to things that were simple, quiet, and easily flexible. I didn't want him to be responsible for something that couldn't wait a couple of days.'ll notice that my cleaning schedule is a little heavier handed than his. This isn't because I'm the's just the way our time at home works out.

We started using the schedule on Monday, so it's still quite new. But I've already noticed a wonderful difference. I'm hoping it sticks.

Let me show you how it's broken down right now. (I'm expecting that there will be some adjustments as we work the system...I'm already on my third revision and we haven't made it through a full week.)

Each family member has their own schedule, divided by day and time of day (i.e. Morning, Afternoon/Evening, Bedtime). The morning tasks are short and simple because we're usually running out the door.

In Darian's case, he is responsible for unloading/loading the dishwasher and taking out the kitchen trash. In order to keep this rolling smoothly, I have him checking them both morning and evening. That way if he starts the dishwasher in the morning, it gets unloaded in the evening or it gets started after dinner if we fill it up at night. It's a more flexible system.

You'll notice that we each have a "swish & swipe" in the mornings. This is a carryover from FlyLady. The swish and swipe refers to a quick brush and flush of the toilet (without cleaner) and a quick rinse and wipe down of the sink/countertop. It keeps the bathroom a little cleaner in between deep cleanings each week. Darian has his bathroom, I have the master, and Collin has the main bathroom. Those are the three that get the most usage. The other two just get their weekly cleanings.

Since Darian is often at his mom's house on the weekends, I kept his weekend schedule pretty basic. (I'll explain the "month task" later.) If he's not with us, it's no big deal to skip everything other than the Sunday before bed stuff. In the case of the week to strip his bed and he's not home, I'll just do that part for him. Easy enough.

Don't mind the devil cat on the bed. Pet eye is RIDICULOUS to try and edit out.

Collin's big trouble area is the den...his "office". So you'll notice that a lot of his time is focused on there. I tend to gag when cleaning out overdue food in the kitchen, so I pawned off that duty to him. We also love to let our grandfather clock die, so I've put him in charge of winding it twice a week. 

We each have a daily "5 minute room rescue" or a "15 minute room declutter". These are timed sessions in a specific room to pick up things that are on the floors, counter or otherwise not put away where they should be. They also allow us to keep the paper clutter under control and trashed as needed. They're short enough sessions to get something done without feeling overwhelmed. The room isn't expected to be pristine when you're done, but once we get it under control, then it should be pretty easy to tidy up each day.

For the weekends, I put Collin in charge of the basement. It doesn't see a lot of action, so it doesn't get that dirty. That way it's no big deal if he's not home to get it done one Saturday.

My schedule is the heaviest. The one nice thing is that I don't have any vacuuming. I HATE can ask my mother. She still gives me a hard time about the one time I got busted telling my friends that I just ran the vacuum over the carpet a couple of times (without turning it on) to put the lines in the carpet so she'd think I'd done my chores. Yep...I hated it that much. So, I took the liberty of putting the boys in charge of all of the vacuuming. Unfortunately, in return I wound up with three bathrooms. Bummer.
You'll also notice that I'm in charge of all of the laundry. I'm fine with this. The few times I've put Collin in charge, bad things tend to happen. I've ended up with shrunken shirts and jeans or it just sits in the washer or dryer. It typically doesn't go well, so I took it over.

I do like that I've broken it up so I only have to do one load a day. I hate spending my entire day flipping laundry. This should also help keep the loads smaller so that folding isn't so much of a bear. And everyone is responsible for putting away their own laundry...the part I hate the most.

My "hot spot" is my scrapbooking and crop rooms. When I'm doing projects, they tend to start to look like a bomb went off. So, I've made sure I have plenty of room rescues and declutters devoted to this location. Collin and I share responsibility for our bedroom and the kitchen, the other two crazy areas in the house.

Since I like to break things up and not spend a huge time cleaning every weekend, you've probably figured out that spring cleaning is not my forte. There are big tasks that need done every year. And we'll do them. I just don't want to do them all at once. So I spread them out throughout the year.

Each one of us has a "month task" that shows up each week on Saturday. This task can be done (and will typically be done) on Saturday, but the only rule is that it has to be done by the end of the week. Each week has a new task, so our monthly break downs have four tasks each. Yes...I'm aware that some months have five weeks. Lucky us, we'll actually end up with four "month task free" weeks each year.

I do a trade for my lawn work, so we don't have any mowing and snow around here is sporadic, so we'll just deal with shoveling as it comes. I hate pulling weeds though...almost as much as vacuuming. So I gave that all to Darian. I'm nice like that. I figure it's only fair that he enjoys the torture of weed pulling like I did as a kid.

I've made the month tasks somewhat cyclical, so that the more needed items get done every 2-3 months. You'll also notice that I have my meal planning and grocery shopping in there. I typically work off of a 3 month meal plan cycle (which I have neglected since last fall and will be redesigning before the end of the month). When I do the meal plan, we do one large shopping trip for most of the necessary items. This is a long trip and takes lots of preparation, so I've spared myself extra chores on planning weeks and freed up both myself and Collin on shopping weeks so that I have the help to attack the store and put things away.

You'll also see that I've devoted one week in October to Halloween decor and one in December to Christmas decor. It's me. Halloween means pumpkins and that task usually takes me a full week to tackle. I need the boys' help, so they're excused from major chores as well. Christmas is a similar situation. We spend an entire weekend day putting up the tree and decorations, so everyone gets a free pass that week as well. Too bad I didn't give us one for take down for each holiday...I guess that eats up two of our four freebie weeks. Drat.

And there you have it. It's a work in progress, but I think it will go well. I don't expect any major changes, just some minor shifting around. I'm actually kind of excited for the possibilities based on what I've seen so far this week.

What type of cleaning arrangement works for your family?


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