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Maintaining a clean and tidy home can be a lot of work. Even with regular routines, the task can be daunting.
Add in a couple of little kids undoing your work at every turn and it can seem like an impossible task.
The secret to keeping the state of your home from overwhelming you is knowing when you should clean versus when to tidy, and when to say “good enough”.
Let’s start with the difference between cleaning and tidying.
What’s the Difference Between Clean and Tidy?
What Is Tidy?
Many of us say we wish our homes were clean when in actuality, what we’re looking for is a tidy home. To tidy means to put things in order or to neatly arrange.
A tidy home puts you at ease and allows you to enjoy your space without being encumbered by stuff everywhere.
A messy home is a result of things being out of order. This means you may have mail laying on the counter, book bags on the floor in the entryway, shoes astray, clothing outside of baskets, and spices and cereal boxes not put back in the pantry.
These things bring a lot of stress. When you have to strategically navigate down a hallway to avoid stumbling over items or look at an unmade bed it can make you feel uneasy, whether you know it or not.
It’s like an unconscious reminder of all the things you have to do. Trying to keep a running tally of chores day after day will wear on you.
Clearing those little nuisance tasks from the back of your mind will give you clarity and peace.
In a minute, we’ll talk about the who, what, when, where, and hows of tidying. But for now, let’s discuss why cleaning is a different matter altogether.
A tidy is not necessarily a clean house.
What Is Clean?
Cleaning is about making your surfaces and items free of dirt, marks, stains, and other contaminants. This generally involves cleaning agents of some kind to physically remove dirt and germs from surfaces.
The process of cleaning is more about addressing your physical health. In contrast, tidying is more beneficial to your mental state and your ability to enjoy your home.
When to Clean
Simple Daily Chores to Keep House Clean
First up is the kitchen. The only thing that I actually spray down and wipe daily is my kitchen. The counters, sink, stove, and appliance fronts are cleaned daily. The floor is swept or vacuumed daily as well.
This is important because its the hub of your home. And when you’re cooking and prepping food, especially raw meat, you never know where little droplets might land.
Moreover, there’s a lot of touch transfer that happens in the kitchen, from running to the pantry to the sink to the fridge, to the stove, etc. You get my point.
All of these surfaces should be cleaned daily to maintain a sanitary eating area.
Now, let’s talk about the bathroom(s). There was a time, before I had kids, that I cleaned the bathrooms daily as well. But frankly, I just can’t seem to manage that anymore.
So if you can, that’s a good thing to do as well. If you can’t then aim for a couple of times per week or at the very least, once per week.
Finally, laundry is a cleaning chore I recommend tackling on a daily basis. Especially if you don’t like doing laundry.
This may sound counterintuitive, but putting off this chore until you have 4 loads of laundry to switch out, sort, and put away in one day is a lot. You won’t have much time to do anything else with your day.
Also, if you’re living a somewhat minimalist lifestyle as far as your wardrobe, towels, and linens are concerned. You’ll need to wash more than once each week just to have those items clean and available for use.
Suggested Read: “15 Minute Express House Cleaning Routine for Last-Minute Guest”
Easy Weekly Cleaning Routine
Now on to the weekly cleaning. While your cleaning routine may vary, depending upon the number of rooms in your home and how you use them, there are a few basic things that should be cleaned each week.
Here is the most important thing to remember when creating a weekly cleaning routine that is low stress.
DO NOT schedule all of your cleaning tasks for the same day. You’re only setting yourself up for a dreaded cleaning marathon that you’ll likely be unable to complete each week.
One day or even two-day cleanings should be reserved for deep cleaning projects. These are things like scrubbing grout lines, cleaning baseboards, dusting fan blades, washing windows, etc.
I only do these tasks during my spring cleaning or right before the holidays. Certainly, if they’re badly needed throughout the year, I’ll do them again. But in general, I reserve in-depth cleaning tasks for those times of the year.
Below is the schedule I’ve created for myself.
Because I work from home and have flexible hours I like to frontload my week with work. So during the beginning of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday), I don’t do any household cleaning chores outside of my daily clean and tidy routine.
Of course, you can adjust your schedule any way you’d like so long as you break up your tasks by day. This not only shortens the amount of time you have to clean, but it’s more efficient than say dedicating a single day to a single room and having to switch between cleaning chores.
Bouncing from floors to dusting or organizing, and back again is inefficient and time-consuming.
Organize Closets and Fridge
Clean your bathrooms including the sink, tub, toilet, mirror, and floor. I do this on a different day of the week.
The first is your floors. Vacuum/sweep/wash all of your floors each week. I usually reserve this task for Saturday, but you can do it on any day you’d like.
General dusting. This includes the coffee table, end tables, nightstands, desks, lamps, etc.
When To Tidy
Simple End of Day Tidying Routine
Having a fresh reset when you wake up each morning starts at night. End of day tidying is all about preparing for the next day.
Tidy House Tips
Roadblocks to Tidy
If your things do not have a designated “home”, it will be hard to tidy your space. Without having a place to put things away to, you’ll just be moving them from one location to another.
For example, clearing your kitchen counter of junk mail but not processing it or having a designated spot to store things to review or things to file means you’re just creating a pile of mess somewhere else.
When to Say “It’s Good Enough”
Knowing when to say “it’s good enough” has been a hard-learned lesson for me.
Despite your best efforts, there will be times when you just have to throw in the towel and say “it’s good enough”. Tomorrow is another day and the world will not stop spinning if there are crumbs on my floor.
For me, I say this at least once or twice a week. Either the playroom hasn’t been picked up or the clothes from the dryer haven’t been folded and put away.
It happens. All the time. And that’s okay.
I’m not striving for perfection or to pass the white glove test on a daily basis. My goal is to create a comfortable, functional environment for my family that we’re happy to be in. And I think that’s most people’s goal as well.
It’s hard to enjoy being home if you’re constantly battling an unmanageable self-imposed standard and feeling bad when you don’t achieve it. There’s are some days where you will need to remind yourself that what you’ve done is enough and there are no trophies for the perfect homemaker.
So, be sure to give yourself some grace from time to time.
Resetting your most-used spaces on a daily basis is something I highly recommend. It will help put you and your family to stay at ease and make your days at home that much more enjoyable. So, tidy daily, clean weekly, and know when to say it’s good enough.
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