Cleaning is not in my genes and I can't say that it's something I completely enjoy doing. However, the result is almost always rejuvenating. I'm a strong believer that a tidy house is a happy house. It takes away an element of chaos, confusion, and stress. Even if we don't have everything under control in our lives, it lessens a worry many of us face on a day-to-day basis.
After Maddox was born, I was worried my house would never be clean again. I spent most of my time with a little bundle curled into my arms and latched onto me while we enjoyed the comfort of the couch. It was lovely and calming, if we were in our own personal bubble. The house started to be more than I could handle (and mind you, it was a spacious, one bedroom apartment). Things began to pile up and pile up, even if it felt like I was constantly picking up. I would get into a rhythm and then something would throw me off. As he got older, it became easier. Then summer would hit and we'd always be out and about, losing rhythm once again. Now we're back into a rhythm, for both his teachings, our outdoor play, cleaning, and so forth and it's so refreshing to be on a 'schedule' that allows room and movement to breathe.
What got us into a rhythm? A chart. On the fridge. Boom. I've always seen a bunch floating around Pinterest but never thought it would be useful in our household. But I was wrong. It's been a dream for our family.
So often, before the little chart, I would do things sporadically. Overall, it worked but I still didn't feel like I was doing enough to keep the house clean, tidy, and organized. If we got thrown off, I couldn't figure out how to get back on track. For many, it's so easy to become stressed before we even start to tackle the house - putting our entire rhythm off balance to begin with. I used to spend so much time thinking too much about how to get things done rather than actively finding a system that worked for us. What's important is finding a rhythm that can work around everything else we need/want to accomplish. I created a cleaning rhythm that works with Maddox's recently created Waldorf home rhythms and it has made our days so much more enjoyable. Maddox even enjoys helping with all the household chores, too, which is a positive I'm grateful for (even if it means things get messed up in the process).
Rhythms are different than schedules. They are predictable but they're loose. It's not the end of the world if things are done out of order. It's not the end of the world if something is switched out, and another thing is put in its place. It doesn't matter if you do it in the morning or at night. You'll know the rhythm that works for you as you play along. I'm here to help you find that rhythm by sharing what I personally do to keep our home tidy or a daily and weekly basis. Our home is one of the most important things. It's where we lay our heads, it's where we love our families, it's where we create memories, it's where we laugh, it's where we dress, it's where we shower, it's where we live. Just like we nurture our families, our hobbies, our friends, our work, we need to also nurture our home. Once we clean, we feel fulfilled, relieved, and refreshed and in turn, it makes us happier and with that - makes our home and our families happier. No relationship and no object lasts without a little bit of maintenance and TLC. However, we don't want to exhaust ourselves or stress ourselves out by feeling the need to perpetually clean. This schedule is meant to help aid you and create a reasonable rhythm that still gives you time to unwind at the end of the day.
Make the bed
In our house, Dave and I usually wake up around 6/6:30. I'm able to get up, drink some coffee, tidy anything up that may have been missed the night before (doesn't usually happen but occasionally, I choose bed instead of finishing my duties), prepare breakfast, read, write, or scroll through Facebook, and I wait for Maddox to wake up. Usually, I feed him automatically because he's a major morning grump. As he's eating, I'll sneak into the bedroom and make the bed. I never understood why my mother insisted on beds being made in the morning but it really does set a tone for the day and makes your bedroom clean without having to do too much more to it.
Sweep + Vacuum
With a toddler (and even myself), crumbs wind up EVERYWHERE. The other day, I vacuumed in the afternoon and ended up having to do another swoop at 5pm because the rugs were dirty again. Sometimes I sweep or vacuum every other day but I try to do it everyday because the floors pretty much need it.
Waking up to a sink full of dishes is the worst. It sours a mood instantly and sets a tone of dread for the rest of the day. We have a dishwasher but I happen to prefer hand-washing dishes. If you have a dishwasher, make sure you unload it the day after you clean them. I find it beneficial to wash dishes a couple times throughout the day so the pile isn't extraneous.
Find a Home For Everything
Throughout the day and at night, tidy up. Make sure everything is tucked nice and neat into its home. If you do it as you go along, you have less to do at night.
If you make a mess or eat somewhere, make sure to wipe the surface you were using. I do this multiple times a day. If I'm particularly busy one day, I'll save the surface cleaning until my son is asleep because I know things will stay clean that way.
*I based this off some of the information I've learned about Waldorf education + rhythms, I've found them useful in keeping a home tidy as well as teaching Maddox*
- Launder clothes, towels, and bed sheets. Fold and put away when finished.
- Deep clean the bathroom(s). Scrub and sanitize toilets, sinks, tubs, tiles, shower heads, mirrors, floors, etc.
- Water your plants.
- Clean kitchen and appliances. Stovetops, dishwasher surfaces, refrigerator surfaces, cabinets, etc.
- Clean out fridge and organize it. Mark what you may need in a grocery list.
- Dust/polish furniture.
- Wipe your glass and mirror surfaces clean and help them shine.
- Organize drawers, closets, pantry. I reorganize all of these because it can sometimes find itself in disarray throughout the week. It's also a good time to see what you have in your pantry and add whatever you need to your grocery list.
- Declutter and donate items. I like to purge items as much as possible so I'm always going through everything to see what I can rid our home of.
- Run errands. Thursday is usually "travel" day so this is when I gather my little troop and head out to run errands.
- Sweep/vacuum/mop floors.
- Menu plan for next week. Sometimes I'll do this in the morning while sipping my morning brew if I'm planning on doing a grocery trip once the little wakes up.
- Work on big projects or any projects you want to start. Sometimes, instead of making something for myself, I like making something for another.
- File papers.
- Catch-up on anything missed throughout the week or something you'd like to clean again (some people are anal about clean bathrooms, so they'll do it multiple times a week).
- Bake something scrumptious.
- Maybe an errand or two.
Ways to help you motivate yourself
- Do it at an appropriate time during the day. If you have children, do it when they're focused on another project or allow them to help (mopping floors may be difficult and this may need to be done early in the morning before the children rise, late at night, or during nap time, whenever you can fit it in).
- Light a natural, soy candle or diffuse refreshing essential oils (like lemon! Perfect for getting you in a cleaning mood).
- Listen to music you love and music that motivates you. I have a little ihome (because my record player needs to be fixed) on my kitchen counter. I can just turn music on my phone and the music lingers over every inch of our apartment.
- Add flowers or plants to your home to brighten things up.
- Meditate. Sometimes starting the day with a fresh mind or starting a task with a fresh mind, helps us begin and surrender to what is necessary in the physical realm.
- Reward yourself after with something. Whether it be reading a book, or crafting, or a smoothie bowl, or eating a cookie larger than your face.
- Make your own cleaning products. I always find DIY to be more filling to my soul.
As I said earlier, rhythms allow you to flow and never feel bad for not completing a task. Nothing is perfect, schedules fall apart, clean houses collapse some days. Most of us are busy people, constantly creating, or doing, or going, or being. Rhythms break away from expectation and let us do and get done what we need to and what works for us. It teaches us to relax and adjust to change.
Cleaning helps us keep a happy, organized, and easy-flowing home. It allows us to keep our head in stressful situations. It is our space: where we love, learn, laugh, and grow. Follow this rhythm I have laid out for you and adjust as you need to. Follow it and find yourself happy and refreshed.
Print off this gorgeous and calming list to help remind you of your rhythms. What do your weekly rhythms look like if you already have one?