Posted by: Ingrid | January 28, 2012

Resolution Two: The futility of cleaning

2.  Work on organizing the house and find a way to keep it clean on a weekly basis.  This involves basic things like putting stuff away and doing tasks immediately if they take a minute or less to complete as well as doing a general cleanup at the end of each day.

With four of us in the house I am half tempted to never clean again until the kids are in college and half tempted to just go super-minimalist and throw away all of our stuff except for the furniture.  What’s preventing that?  Well, a number of things.

1.  I am more of a pack rat than I would prefer.

2.  I am in the baby-having stage which demands options in clothing for me and small children along with things like swings and bouncers.

3.  I like a clean house.  I feel more relaxed when stuff is put away.

4.  My husband has allergies, particularly to dust mites.  Not cleaning = more sneezing and less sleep = cranky husband and children who are woken up by loud sneezing.

So cleaning is a must.

But like many other stay-at-home-moms, I feel the futility of a lot of what I do during the day.  I make food and it is promptly eaten.  I do the laundry and by the time the clothes are dry and folded more laundry is piling up.  I wash diapers and more are dirty before the load has been fully dried.  I clean the house only to see the dirt arrive as soon as someone walks through the door.  It feels like everything I do is immediately undone.  Talk about maddening!  But I still prefer clean to the alternative.

A few things I am trying this year:

1.  Making a monthly chart with the chores I would like to accomplish on a given day.  While my preference is to do everything at once and then sit back with a cup of coffee in my newly cleaned house, it tends to work better if I can look over the week and see that Saturday all I have to do is clean the microwave and sweep the kitchen floor.  Breaking it down helps it feel more manageable to me and the cleaning is more likely to get done.  If I try to tackle multiple rooms I keep putting it off and it just never happens.

2.  Remember the 1 minute rule.  If I can do something in less than a minute (hang up my coat, put the book back on the shelf and not on top the table, etc.) I try to do it rather than letting everything pile up.

3.  Organize, de-clutter, repeat.  My hope is that I will be able to get through each room and closet once or twice per month to re-organize and also pull out stuff that we don’t need or use.  This stuff would then be given away or donated.  I am discovering, however, that this is hard to do with a toddler on the loose.

4.  Teaching tornado-like toddler to clean up.  He is getting good at this but obviously has to be supervised and reminded.  I have to remind myself that cleaning up with Isaac may be slower but will pay off in the long run.  As opposed to cleaning for him, which gets the job done ASAP but teaches him only that mommy is there to clean for him.

5.  Nightly clean up.  After Isaac is in bed we try to prep the coffee for the next day and get things moderately straightened.  It’s so much easier for me to start the day with a clean house!

So those are the things I am trying this year.  Unfortunately, in the ideal world the cleaning stuff would all get quickly taken care of in the morning.  No, scratch that.  In the ideal world of cleaning I would have a maid.  Also in the ideal world, my mom would still be alive and living around the corner from us, I would be running 6 minute miles, and I would look just like Audrey Hepburn.  My “ideal world cleaning circumstances” rarely happen more than just a few times a week.  Just enough to convince me that they might happen a little more often if I just tweaked a little something here or there…

Anyway, resolution #2, cleaning and organizing is well under way.  Hopefully this will make for a less grumpiness and sneeziness in 2012.



  1. did i tell you about this? it’s a one small thing approach to declutter\organizing.. i was doing really well with it, until sickness prevailed… but i’m determined to get back on track…

    • Thanks, Jen! You hadn’t told me about that.

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