If your house is really a mess and a stranger comes to the door, greet him with, "Who could have done this? We have no enemies." —Phyllis Diller (Tweet that!)
I grew up in a home where we cleaned the entire house once every other week. It was a simple system. Everyone knew that Cleaning Saturday meant our whole morning was spent scrubbing the entire house and we all had a list of chores to complete before we were free to go about our lives.
The problem with this is that the house starts to look dirty by the second week. And if you cleaned the whole house every week, that means every weekend giving up half a day to scrubbing.
When I moved into my college apartment, I tried so many crazy systems to keep my happy home clean, most of which failed. The routine I grew up with did not serve my tiny space nor my unpredictable social life and I remember feeling so frustrated that I could never seem to accomplish something as simple as a regularly clean apartment. Then I did this:
I made a cleaning schedule. I figured out that if you do a little bit of cleaning every day, your home will always look clean and cleaning becomes a habit, not a chore.
I didn't even do a massive clean up to kick start this schedule. When I first created it, I just started the next day (I think it was a Tuesday) and within a week, my place was looking much cleaner. Within a month, I felt like it was cleaner than ever before.
This simple habit changed my life. I no longer broke into a cold sweat at the thought of unexpected company. If the landlord popped in while I was at work to spray for bugs, I felt confident that he would be thrilled to see his tenant took such good care of his space. (Seriously, that is GOLD! I have had landlords offer to lower my rent so I wouldn't move out after my lease was up.) Does the neighbor across the hall need to borrow sugar? Instead of shoving the cup of sugar through a cracked door for fear that they might see my mess, I now warmly welcomed them inside and poured them a cup of tea while I grabbed the needed ingredient. You get the idea.
Also, I make my cleaning time as pleasurable as possible. I'll play a little Amy Winehouse, throw my dinner in the oven, pour a nice glass of Garnacha and snack on a lovely french cheese. It's pretty romantic. My neighbors probably think every night is date night.
Looking for a little more motivation? Try my Cleaning Playlist on Spotify!
Now it's not all roses and rainbows. It takes a while to start a new habit and keeping up with the schedule is key!. Also, my mother (who calls me every day) would start to say things like, "You're always cleaning your house." or "But I thought you cleaned your house yesterday." She never quite understood the purpose of my schedule.
The results are worth the time it takes to build this habit. And, as an extra benefit: If you HAD to skip A day, (notice I said A day, not days or a week!), you can do so knowing that the sky isn't going to fall and your house will still look great in the morning.
Do you have a cleaning schedule or a different system that works for you? I'd love to hear it in the comments below!
Happy scrubbing (and sipping)!