Tuesday, April 21, 2009

How the One Hour a Day Plan is Working for Housecleaning

It has been three months since I stared the one hour a day plan of house cleaning. I thought I’d give an update for anyone if they are curious.

To recap, I decided to try to do one hour a day of general decluttering of living spaces, washing surfaces and floors, dusting, cat litter box cleaning and bathroom cleaning. Not included in the one hour is dishwashing, meal prep and clean up and laundry.

If you are not a homeschooling parent, I want you to know that the fact that a family homeschools adds to the mess in a house. When kids are eating three meals plus snacks at home it is messy. When meals are made from scratch like ours are, it is messy. When kids are in a house using stuff in it all day it makes a mess (toys I mean). When little boys use toilets at home all day it makes a mess. When the house must house all the educational materials it can get messy. When every craft project and experiment is done at home (and the kids insist on saving it at least for a while) it can get clutter-y. When kids go in and out of the house in order to be in the yard to play it can make a mess. The hard part is that as a homeschool mom I have a job to do, to prep for and to home educate my kids then I have more house cleaning and meal prep work to do in addition! Worse is the fact that the kids tire me out and I can yearn for a break but what is waiting instead is for me to do housecleaning, not my idea of a relaxing activity at all.

If I were to clean my entire house non-stop it would take me a solid six hours if I was not interrupted for any reason. However I don’t want to dedicate a full six hours a week to that task and it is kind of impossible for a mother with children in the home to never be interrupted anyway. I thought maybe one hour per day, every day, would do the trick.

The way it turns out is that I have been able to do the one hour a day only four or five times a week. The main reason is that I refuse to do that after dinner. I am just tired enough to want to wind down at that point and am just lazy enough to not force myself to do that house cleaning at night. Hence it is happening only 4-5 times a week.

It is easy to get that cleaning done if we are home all of the day or if we do just one or two errands. When we’re home it means eating three meals and snacks at home so that adds to the work I do and the clean up for that takes time. However it is hard to get the one hour done if I am out of the house for more than four hours a day (plus doing meals at home). If I do shopping errands and then at home I have to put them away and so forth that adds time to what I’m doing. It is also hard to get it done if it is a day when I’m rushing out, coming back home, going out again to another appointment, coming home, and then leaving again. The hectic nature of the in and out of the house doesn’t allow for an hour to be spent on housecleaning. On those days basic eating and meal clean up and packing and unpacking from our errands takes up the time.

It is also hard when we travel. The time before the trip requires packing and planning. While gone, the dirt accumulates, the dust settles, the cats use the litter box, the fish filter still gets dirty. Then when we get home I have email to catch up on, snail mail, travel laundry to do and unpacking. So the week before travel is hard and the week after travel is hard.

My Boy Scout son camps about once a month. Prep for this takes time. When he gets home everything has to be unpacked and washed and stowed away neatly for the next month. The times when my husband also goes on the trip (often) doubles that work. Additionally as per the Troop’s requirement, my son comes home with cleaning to do, a dirty tent to air dry and sweep out, or a food prep box filled with kind of dirty pots and pans to all be re-washed properly at home. I don’t do the work for him but at his age of eleven I definitely have to supervise it and that takes time away from the things I’m trying to do.

I am so tempted to hire a house cleaner but I can’t justify the expense. The prices have climbed here; the cost is $25-35 an hour to be paid under the table according to my acquaintances and friends. That is a lot of money to make and to not have to pay taxes on which frankly I resent, as I’ve always paid the taxes on money I’ve earned! That is more than some white collar professionals make in their 9-5 day job. I keep thinking of all the things I could do with the $7K per year it would take to clean this house and what still needs to be done for general house maintenance (new roof, paint the exterior, new boiler) and I can’t justify paying someone to do the task.

My kids help a little with the house cleaning but not much. My kids have been doing 100% of the family’s laundry since October 2008 so that is helpful. At this point I probably should give more responsibility to the kids for the house cleaning but it takes so much effort to monitor them and adds to power struggle issues especially with my one slacker-ish son that I don’t want to deal with it right now.

I am happy with the one hour a day plan. The best part is that the house is not filling up with clutter as I am taking time to put everything away daily as part of the one hour routine. I also have a liberated feeling when one hour has gone by and I am compelled to keep going but force myself to stop because at that point I am not yet in a negative mindset, resentful at those in the family who made the messes, and don't yet feel burdened by having had to do that cleaning. So I end the cleaning on a high note and still full of energy. The worst part is that even when I do the work, the entire house is never sparkling clean all at one moment (the kitchen floor may be freshy mopped but the rugs in other rooms are not vacummed for example). However this is forcing me to accept the “good enough” mindset and is helping subdue the perfectionist within me. Anything that helps me rid myself of the perfectionism is to be encouraged!

Technorati Tags: , , , .


Risa said...

I like this idea, and am going to give it a try here. (You also cracked me up with "When little boys use toilets at home all day it makes a mess." So true!) One thing that is working here is we have a 5-minute tidy after each meal. Just putting clutter away, and the boys, ages 4 and 6, help (toys, books, games, homeschool stuff). Makes cleaning a lot easier for me too if I can just sweep or wash the floor, without having to clear it first.

Lee-Anne said...

Just linked from Prairie Poppins, and LOVED this post, and had to let you know. I am so feeling the sentiment, and truth in every sentence you have written here! Two years ago we renovated the main floor of our bungalow and it is functional and pretty and fairly straight-forward to clean; all the mess just gets shoved down to the disfunctional and ugly basement which is so difficult to organise and clean! It weighs we down until I feel as though I am drowning in STUFF!

I usually can get away with 1 hour of ME time daily during which I exercise OR read OR surf the interwebs OR deep clean. Cleaning is usually not the chosen option :-). But I am fed up this week - must be spring - and we are doing a major de-clutter, and gathering bags for donation. I see the entire weekend devoted to defrosting freezer, sorting ski gear, and sorting books and crafts. Must try to see what I can do about working it in a little bit at a time as you have. Much less daunting!

So good to know that I am not alone.