As we gear up for a new school year, it’s important to be sure we don’t let other areas slide…like keeping our house reasonably clean and in order. As homeschoolers, we’re here during much of the day, messing things up as we go along. It’s easy to focus on school and let the house slide…but that is not what I want for our home. I want it to be a pleasant and comfortable place to be. A messy, cluttered, dirty home is not a sanctuary for my family. I’m not interested in having a spotless house, but I do want a reasonable level of orderliness and cleanliness. My time is at a premium, especially during the school year, so I need an efficient method of keeping things in order.
I’ve found that what works best for us is zone cleaning…focusing on a different area of the house each day. By doing this, we avoid a situation of having to spend a large block of time we don’t have getting the house presentable. This is not a new concept…it’s very similar to Flylady’s system…but over the years I’ve “made it my own” and adapted it to fit my house and family.
Before I had kids, and when my oldest child was small, I had a marathon cleaning day every Saturday. I cleaned both bathrooms, mopped all the tile, vacuumed every room, dusted every room, changed all the sheets….you get the idea. When my second came along I quickly realized that it was going to be hard to devote such a large block of time to cleaning every week. I did a lot of reading and experimenting and eventually hit on a system that works well for us.
I’ve divided my house into five zones…one for each weekday:
- Monday: Kitchen/Dining
- Tuesday: Living Room/Hallway
- Wednesday: Laundry room, closets, front porch
- Thursday: Master bdrm/bthrm & kids’ bthrm
- Friday: Desk Day/School area
You’ll notice that the kids’ rooms aren’t on that list. On Saturdays, the kids do a “deep clean” of their bedrooms…dust, vacuum, and really clean up well. During the week they do quick 10-15 minutes “maintenance” sessions once or twice a day.
Every day, all of us (except the baby) work in one area of the house. For example, Mondays are “Kitchen/Dining”. On that day, I focus on getting those rooms sparkling clean and neat. My kids’ chores for Monday are also all in that area….my oldest cleans the floors and dusts, my oldest son wipes down the cabinets/appliances and all the chairs and barstools. My preschooler picks up the floor so that her big sister can vacuum/mop and helps wipe the chairs.
When everyone is focusing on one area, it’s amazing how quickly the room whips into shape! We don’t spend more than 30 minutes a day on any room, usually less than that. Often, I will spend an extra 10-15 minutes working on something extra in that room…for example, I spent just a few minutes to reorganize a kitchen cabinet this week after I’d finished everything else. Over time, it’s amazing how the room gets less cluttered and all the “problem areas” get knocked out one by one.
This method really lowers my stress. I don’t have that nagging worry about that “problem area” or certain task, stressing out, not knowing when I’ll get to it, because I know it will get taken care of when the assigned day rolls around. Don’t get me wrong, we do “maintenance” through-out the week…we don’t just leave a room untouched for an entire week, never picking anything up or wiping off a counter. But we focus our attention on getting one area in tip-top shape each day, just doing enough to maintain in the other areas.
Focusing on one area each day also helps me keep up with things that are easy to let go until they can’t be ignored. For example: wiping out the microwave! Maybe I’m the only one prone to do this, but if it wasn’t on my list, I could easily let the microwave go for weeks until the crumbs and drips would require 15 minutes of scrubbing to get out. As it is, I do it weekly, whether it needs it or not. It usually takes about 30 seconds. When I only have to worry about one area each day, I take more notice of all those little things that I’d be likely to just let slide so I could move on to the next room or pressing thing.
Another plus is that it helps me when it comes to assigning the kids’ chores. When I sit down to decide what each child should do each day, I can think in terms of just one area of the house. I think of all the things I want done in that room to get it thoroughly clean and neat and then spread them out between all of us. I love that things that would never get done otherwise are getting done on a regular basis…things like wiping the baseboards and doorknobs.
I have seen the advantages I reap when I follow this system. Several times over the years I’ve gotten away from it and I quickly become overwhelmed trying to keep up with everything. Doing things this way actually allows me to keep things neater and cleaner in less time and gives me more time to spend with my family or for fun things like writing this blog!
P.S. The zone cleaning method also works great for kids’ rooms so they don’t get overwhelmed trying to clean everything at once. 😉
Linked with Mostly Homemade Mondays, Natural Living Monday, Better Mom Mondays, Thank Goodness It’s Monday, Hip Homeschool Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays, Teach Me Tuesdays, Works For Me Wednesday, Simple Living Wednesday, Raising Homemakers, Thrive at Home, Simple Lives Thursday, Fellowship Fridays, Womanhood With Purpose.