Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cleaning house: literally.

I am not good at housekeeping. I'm a decent cook, and I've been told I'm a great hostess. I like to think I'm a good mother and wife, but housekeeping is just not my forte. At all. I think a lot of it has to do with my ADD--I simply can't keep track of what to do when. The big thing are obvious--picking up and vacuuming the living room, dishes, laundry. But the other tasks that I think distinguish a truly clean, lovely home from a home that's not quite a pigsty always seem to evade me. It just doesn't occur to me to wipe down my cabinets but every once in a while. I dust when I happen to notice dust. I hardly ever think to clean out my coffeemaker, dust the light over the kitchen table, or clean the microwave. I change the tablecloth is someone is coming to dinner or when I notice it is unbearably gross.

We just got a storage unit, and our goal is to pack up at least one box a week and run it over to the storage unit until we get all the extra crap out of the house, and I think this will make cleaning easier. But it won't help with remembering to clean.

Enter my new best friend: www.chorebuster.net. It lets me list ALL my chores: the ones I need to do every day or every other day--declutter, wipe down toilets, clean the kitchen. But it also (and this is the key) lets me list the less frequently performed chores: cleaning the microwave (once a month); organizing the pantry (once a month); cleaning the oven (every other month); putting all books away in bookshelves (every two weeks); throw out old magazines (every month). These are the tasks that I'm always forgetting to do. Now I get a daily schedule with several tasks on it, so I know what to do when. By keeping all my tasks in regular rotation, I'm hoping that each task will be easier since it hasn't built up for weeks or months. By having a schedule, I'm less likely to say "Oh, I'll do that tomorrow, I'm too busy/tired/hungry/lazy right now."

The site is designed primarily for chore-sharing--you enter in the people responsible for the chores, and then you rate each chore according to its difficulty or undesirability. This way, one person isn't stuck with both cleaning the oven and scrubbing the toilets. I do the vast majority of the chores, so I'm just doing the schedule for myself. But being able to rate the chores is still good--it helps me realize that all these tasks I'm dreading aren't really as hard as I think they are. I can also dictate exactly what day of the week I want any weekly chores to fall on--I've already gotten in the habit of cleaning the bathrooms on Sunday, so I put that in, and then dictated that I wipe down the toilets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That way the toilets are getting wiped down at least 4 days a week (a necessity with a little boy in the house!) and the bathrooms are getting cleaned once a week.

I also get to put fun things in the rotation. Every month I have "do something fun for me" and "surprise husband/child with something nice." Every 10 days I have "random act of kindness." I put in my yoga class and Sam's speech therapy--that way I don't have a ton of tasks on days when I know I have non-negotiable activities. I put in lighting the Shabbat candles, which we are trying to get in the habit of doing, but I always, always forget to do.

My house will never look like a Pottery Barn catalog, and I'm okay with that. But I want to put a lot less energy into stressing about cleaning and lot more energy into actually cleaning. I'm hoping this site makes a big difference in that!

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