My goal is to have my home be “grandma clean.” I try to accomplish this by channeling my grandmother (and studying vintage housekeeping books). I always loved being at her house. It was neat, tidy, clean, and always welcoming.
My Housewife’s Handbook from 1953 tells me that “cleaning is the removal of dirt from the paint, varnish, fabric, enamel, glass, metal, and other surfaces found in the home.” A few pages later, the unnamed author tells me that I should be doing these tasks daily:
- Sweep walks and porches
- Dust furniture and wood floors
- Brush upholstered furniture
- Clean rugs
- Wash bathroom toilet fixtures and floor
- Clean sinks and fittings and stove surfaces after each use
Okay, so I’ll admit that I am not completing that list everyday but I am making headway into adding things to my list. And it feels good!
When I first read that list, I was still fresh from being away from home for 12+ hours every day (losing 3 hours a day just to my commute to the university campus). I was grateful that I was completing a daily routine a la Flylady. I’d rush around with my timer set for 15 minutes before heading into my home office for a day of writing. Cleaning was something to endure, to get through, instead of being savored.
Well, I’ve rebelled against the timer. Now I use my homekeeping time as my “me time” and “writing percolating” time. While I am dusting the flat surfaces of the furniture in my house (three rooms: living room, bedroom, office) and vacuuming (those same three rooms) I am thinking about what I want to write about. The dusting and vacuuming only take about 15 minutes and the house looks amazing after those 15 minutes. What I have learned from this simple routine is that the daily dusting motivates me to put things away after I’m done with them instead of putting it down “until later.” Without visible clutter, our home is soothing and calming.
When I was working, I’d spend 15-20 minutes cleaning one room per day. I clean the front room on Monday, the kitchen on Tuesday, the 2 bathrooms on Wednesday, the home office on Thursday, and the bedroom on Friday. Because I didn’t have much time, the cleaning was basically about making sure there weren’t any cooties growing that would cause us to recoil in alarm. But now that my homekeeping time is my “me time” and “writing percolating” time, I spend about an hour deep cleaning each room. Some of that time is often spent on organizing. Last Friday, the closet was partially cleaned out and organized. And, as is often said, upkeep is much easier and enjoyable than original cleaning.
Since changing my outlook from “chores” to “me time,” I have developed a certain intimacy with my home. Contrary to what the ads would have me believe that I have to exert lots of effort, my home and the homekeeping process comforts and nurtures me.
Next week, I’ll add the sweeping of the stoop and the walkway to my daily routine. I’ll be “grandma clean” in no time!
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