An ideal homemaker is consistent in applying the best skills and methods she knows. She has a built-in self-starter. ~Daryl V. Hoole, The Art of Homemaking, 1967
I’ve fallen out of The Box. And I can tell. The housekeeping aspect of my homemaking is seemingly effortless when I have a routine. When I slip out of my routine, things start to fall apart around the edges and get left undone. The old maxim that it is easier to keep a clean house clean really is true.
Like many people, I thrive when I have structure in my life and my housekeeping routine creates the foundation for a calm home. It may not be absolutely spotless, but it is neat, tidy, and serene. It reduces the “on my mind” load so that I feel in charge of my life instead of being buffeted about from one crisis to the next. By doing today’s work today, I don’t tack my undone tasks onto tomorrow’s “to do” list eventually making it unwieldy and overwhelming.
Mrs. Hoole, in her book The Art of Homemaking, points out that our morning routines are the foundation for the rest of the day. She implores us to avoid getting sucked into other tasks–such as cleaning out a closet–until we have completed our morning routine and “today’s work.”
You may have seen the old kitchen towels with daily chores embroidered on them:Monday: Wash Day Tuesday: Ironing Day
Wednesday: Sewing Day
Thursday: Market Day
Friday: Cleaning Day
Saturday: Baking Day Sunday: Day of Rest
While we may look at the towels as being artifacts of the days when women were in their yards all day doing their laundry in a washtub, the ditty does remind us that we need to assign our housekeeping tasks to regular days instead of going about them haphazardly. For example, instead of trying to deep clean my entire house in one day, I clean one room per day. But I also designate how much time I spend cleaning that room–usually an hour. By using a timer, I am able to stay focused (and resist the urge to “check my email just for a minute”) and the index cards from my box keep me from flaking out from doing a good job. When I want to skip a task such as vacuuming under the sofa cushions, I ask myself, “If not now, when?”
Another advantage of using the timer is that when I’m following my daily and weekly routine, it doesn’t take me an entire hour to deep clean my designated room for that day. As I said before, it is easier to keep a clean house clean than having to start from scratch over and over again. So what do I do with that extra time? For whatever amount of time remains, I tackle other non-routine tasks such as re-organizing a drawer, culling clothes for donation from the closet, or making sure all of the storage containers still have matching lids…you know, all those little things that we always plan on getting done but never seem to get around to doing. The built-in time limit keeps everything in bite-size chunks. Will I clean out my entire closet in 30 minutes? No. But you’d be surprised by what can be accomplished in that time and eventually everything will be streamlined.
I like using the tickler file concept to help keep me on track. You can read about the system I use by clicking here. I use a combination of a “to do” list for the general outline of my day and index cards that provide detailed reminders. But, just because I use that system doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work for you. The goal is for you to create a system that works for you, not try to force yourself into a system and then beat yourself up when it doesn’t work for you.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go do my morning routine and today’s work…today.