I used to feel that way, too. And to be honest, sometimes I can still feel overwhelmed, but not when it comes to the whole house. Last year I set up a plan that really works to keep us organized and functioning well.
Prior to last year, I had a daily/weekly cleaning routine that worked well and a monthly cleaning routine that worked well. I sweep everyday, vacuum a few times a week, do laundry a few days a week, surface clean all areas once a week and do a deeper clean of each area monthly. The things that tended to fall through the cracks were the things that only had to be done once every 3, 6 or 12 months.
I tried weekly lists, monthly lists and annual lists but it all seemed so tedious. I was really motivated to come up with a system that could be a one-page-per-month sort of system. Since I could not find the answer anywhere online or in stores, I used my Silhouette to create a montly cleaning/to do list for our household.
To tackle the tasks that needed to be done less often than once every month, I sat down and planned out which areas of the house I would tend to during specific months. I left December unplanned, since the holidays are a busy time of year already.
Now each month I tackle one or two areas of our house and yard and really do the deep cleaning, purging, organizing, small repairs, redecorating and other projects that I know will start to pile up and drive me mad if left undone over time. Tackling these things at least once a year prevents that overwhelming feeling. Another part that helps is that I know each area is already scheduled – if the messy cupbards in our bar area bug me, I know that if I don’t have time right now, it is on my calendar sometime in the next 12 months and it will get done – I don’t have to worry about it and try to fit it into my schedule right now. This keeps me focused on one area at a time and prevents me from starting multiple projects and leaving a lot of things partially done (another stressor).
Even if something comes up and I have to shift things, at least I can quickly see what area needs attention and reschedule when I will deal with it. I set myself up for success by keeping in mind when I have more time and when I have less time, when I can work outside and when I am stuck inside due to harsh winter weather.
One other tip – when I work on a specific area and come up with a larger project than I can tackle that month, I just add it to my to do list and schedule it when I can get to it. Sometimes it is six months later, but I usually either get to it eventually or decide it was not what I wanted in the end. These are almost always the fun decorating projects, so I am usually pretty excited to get to them.
Here is how I have things set up now:
January – basement bar, living and utility room areas. Organize and pack away holiday decorations.
February – Upstairs bedrooms (master, 7 year old boy, 10 year old boy). I also get the pets into the vet for their check ups and vaccinations.
March – All bathrooms (three full, one half bath).
April – Living room and entry closet. Clean and open the pool for the season.
May – Lawn and garden areas. Because the weather is FINALLY nicer usually by May and we are all dying to be outside as much as possible, we fertilize, aerate, refresh the mulch and plant the gardens and annual flowers.
June – Laundry/mud room, outside living areas (patio, deck, pool).
July – Kitchen and dining room areas, weeding and upkeep in the lawn and garden.
August – Furnace and air conditioner maintenance, dryer vent cleaned out. Since this is the end of summer and we are focused on squeezing in the last of the summer fun, so this month I keep it light.
September – Office (aka Den), clean windows.
October – Outside areas – blow out sprinklers, fall plantings, yard fertilizer, water and clean up. Winterize and close pool.
November – Change smoke detector batteries, rotate emergency supplies, prepare for Christmas.
December – Christmas. Since it seems like this month we are always either working hard to get everything done and ready for Christmas or wanting to relax and enjoy, so this month does not have anything extra!
Rooms I Don’t Do – That leaves 3 areas of our house/yard that are not on my list – the two teenager rooms and the garage. The highschoolers are old enough to manage their rooms. Now, they rarely look how I would have them look, but they do go on cleaning sprees as the mood strikes them and sometimes I give them deadlines when we are hosting a larger event. Besides, I think they have to figure out what works for them and it is good for them to do so while I am here so I can show them my systems if/when they are interested. The garage is my husband’s domain and although I do my fair share to clean it and keep it clean, in the end, it is his space to control and he works on it when he has time and I help when I have time or he wants the help.
What do you think? Would a system like this work for you?