Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Keeping the house clean in 2011: On the baby's schedule

So, I said earlier that it was one of my resolutions this year to keep my house cleaner. If you’ve been a reader for a little while, you know that this is an area I have struggled with for a while. You also know that I have a 4 month old at home.
In the past month or so, my precious angel has decided that she doesn’t need naps that are longer than 30 minutes, and sometimes that she doesn’t need to nap at all. Needless to say I disagree. I Unfortunately, trying to get her back on track and rested means that I’m spending more time sitting in her room trying to get her to go to and stay asleep, giving me even less than 30 minutes at a shot to get my household work done. This has made it a bit challenging to try to keep up with the cleaning. So I’ve come up with this threefold plan, and hopefully it will work for me.

  • I do everything I can with the baby. For example, I clip my coupons and pay my bills sitting on the floor while she has tummy time, and I made a game out of folding my laundry. I bundle her up to go outside and get the mail, and I try to carry her around as I do light decluttering. This makes these tasks take a little longer, but it’s fun for her and it means I can spend those few nap minutes on things I can only do when she’s sleeping.
  • I do as much as I can in the evening when my husband is home to play with the baby. I do all the dishes, some housework, make lunch for my husband and sometimes for myself for the next day, and defrost something for the next day’s dinner.
  • I need to prioritize the work in the household and accept that not everything will get done all the time, but that some things must get done and I must do them first.
So, when I do have a few minutes, like at the beginning of a nap, or when the baby is entertaining herself on her play gym (and ignoring me), I choose a quick 5 minute task to do. I do them in the order listed below. This way I know that the things that must be done are getting done, and when possible I also do what should be done. Since the length of a nap is never guaranteed, breaking things up into 5 minute chunks means I never have a job half finished when I have to run and get the baby. First, I do my daily chores:
  1. I make my bed.
  2. I start a load of laundry, or switch it to the next position.
  3. I put away any dishes on my draining rack, empty my dishwasher, and reload it. (Or any one or two of these tasks, if I get interrupted.)
  4. I grab the bags out of any full trashcans, and gather up all my rinsed recyclables to take out to the bins.
  5. I do a quick throw-away/put-away drill in my living room and kitchen.
  6. I do any make-ahead meal prep that I can do for dinner (i.e., chopping onions, washing vegetables).
Then, once all my daily household chores are done, I pick a weekly chore from the list below. At one point, I had chores assigned to specific days of the week, but then if I had a bad day two Mondays in a row, my floors didn’t get washed for three weeks. Now I just do the chores in order. If I get to two in a day, I get ahead, if I don’t get to any, it’s okay.
  1. I sweep and damp mop all my hard floors. (Or just sweep, or just mop)
  2. I vacuum my carpets. (Usually I divide this, upstairs and downstairs)
  3. I dust with a damp rag or microfiber cloth.
  4. I clean my mirrors and sinks, toilets, and shower (Again, or I break this up if need be)
  5. I clean any old food out of my refrigerator.
  6. I change my sheets and towels (Okay, this one I still do on the same day every week)
And if I get through all that I’m done. Actually, if I get through a little of that, I’m usually done. If I get through one or two weekly housekeeping chores, I give myself some downtime for the rest of the day. The thing is, knowing exactly what to do and getting to it right away actually means that I have more time to rest or to sit and watch the baby sleep. So far at least, it works for me.


Michie said...

I have an almost 6 year old and a baby on the way, and I'm not good at cleaning the house either, so your topic caught my eye. I like how you had your list all broken up into 5 minute tasks, and had them in a list so that you knew what to do if you got interrupted. I have ADD and tend to get interrupted and then not know where to go back to. I think I might need to have a list so I know what I'm doing and where I'm going. Good luck with your baby.

Unknown said...

Wow. I cannot imagine that you do all these chores by yourself. It's really hard to keep up with the cleaning when you have a baby in the house to take care of almost every minutes, especially during the day. I remember when I was pregnant with my three year old Sam, my husband contacted this New York janitorial services to help me around the house. They do the cleaning twice or thrice a week, and if really needed, once over the weekends. We kept the commercial cleaning services (New York) until Sam turned three. She's happily helping me with the chores now. And it's enjoyable, I tell you.

'Becca said...

This sounds like a great system! Do you have a baby carrier that lets your baby be close to you with your hands free? My son and I loved the Maya Wrap!

Becky said...

I have a 4yo, 2yo, 10-mo-old, and another due in July, so finding time for the housework is always a challenge! I guard the afternoon naptime--and schedule all three to nap at the same time, or there would be no way I would get anything done! :-)
We also moved 3 times during the first 18 months of "motherhood," so things have never been quite as organized as I would like. . . The earlier you find a system that works for you, the better! There are so many "systems" but it has to work for you. . . and then every couple of months as the baby's schedule changes, and the baby's mobility increases, you can just tweak it a little! Keep up the good work!