Friday, February 08, 2008

You can tell me, I won't tell.

It's a quiet night here at my wit's end. I am still under the weather, or rather, more like once again under the weather. I cannot tell if I've been reinfected or just been blessed with round two of what I thought I had recouperated from last weekend. Suffice it to say I'm still sounding like Bea Arthur, coughing like a consumptive and sleeping every chance I get. On the bright side, Man-Cub, bless him, is finally better and returned to school with a spring in his step this morning.

In my convalesence over the past few weeks, I've had lots of time to think and plan my re-entry into productive housekeeping. As you can imagine, my house has kind of gone feral while I've been lying low. I had managed to tame it enough for safety's sake, but after a few weeks' neglect it's reverted back to its wild ways. And, I fear it's going to take a lot of muster to bring it back from the brink. A lot.

I think I may have shared this before, but I'm not the best housekeeper. Don't get me wrong, I've learned a lot and am worlds better than I was before, but I'm still not that great. I have tried to keep my house clean all the time, really I have, but it is just impossible for me. I'm just not wired that way. I am one of those women who would benefit greatly from having a live-in housekeeper. I can hear you all spluttering, "Pffft! Who wouldn't!?" But I'm serious! I'm not talking about a nameless, faceless maid who comes and goes while I'm out shopping all day, like an office night-cleaning crew. I'm talking about an old-fashioned, kindly, older, possibly widowed woman who lives with us and becomes part of the family. The kind who polishes furniture and airs linens and works alonside me making beds and preparing meals. Sort of like Mrs. Doubtfire. Or the housekeeper in every Rosamunde Pilcher book I've ever read. Or Aunt Jamesina, Rebecca Dew or Susan Baker in the Anne of Green Gables books. I would be brilliant with one of those!

But they don't exist anymore, do they? So, since I don't have an unmarried, but spry Aunt who needs a place to live and a family to love, I'm on my own. And I have set myself to the task of always improving on my housekeeping abilities and habits. It hasn't been easy. I grew up with a mother who was practically a Bohemian. She hated housekeeping (still does) and only ever did it if someone was coming over. Someone she wanted to impress, that is. We never tidied up for just our friends.

I never learned any proper housekeeping habits, except how to make hospital corners and fold sheets. I was married before I knew most people dust and vacuum once a week and make their beds every day. Isn't that horrifying? You can see what I was up against. Fortunately, I have a most patient and supportive husband who never complains and does his best to help me in my quest.

As a result of my never-ending endeavors to improve, I have become intensely interested in other people's routines. I've spent hours looking through blogs, scouring websites, studying books. I've created chores lists, chores schedules, goal lists, you name it. I haven't yet gotten things running as smoothly as I'd like, but during this last bout of enforced idleness, I've been tweaking things and I'm ready to get started again.

So, I'm wondering: what is your routine? Daily, weekly, monthly or more? Are you one of those women who rise early, shower, dress, enjoy a cup of coffee and have a hot breakfast on the table by the time your family comes downstairs in the morning? Or do you (like some people who shall remain nameless) tear yourself out of bed at the very last possible moment, stumble down the stairs behind the children in pjs and bathrobe, blindly shake some dry cereal and a splatter of milk into two bowls and slide them across the island, praying for a phone call that pipes have burst in the school building and everyone can go back to bed? I want to know!

What do you do before you go to bed at night to prepare for the day to come? Do you set out clothes for everyone, set the table for breakfast and set backpacks, purse and car keys by the door? Or do you just make sure there are enough clean clothes in the dryer, enough fixin's for everyone's breakfast and lunch and take your chances that each shoe, bookbag and school paper will be in the last place you remembered it at 7:55 the next morning? I want to know!

Do you keep yourself strictly to a chores schedule, or do you just "feel" what needs to be done and then do it? What do you do first? Make your bed, have breakfast, take a shower? I want to know! How do you manage your weekly chores, such as dusting, mopping, cleaning the bathrooms and other such things? Do you assign them each to a day? Do you do them all in one day? What about Saturdays? What about the kids' jobs? I want to know!

I'm not trying to pry, I'm just trying to find out from normal, every day women what works for them. What are your secrets for a smoothly-running, comfortable, homey household?

Tell me your housekeeping secrets! I want to know!

P.S. Spell checker STILL not working. Of all the dirty, rotten, low-down...


Jennifer said...

I tear myself out of bed. Seriously.
I shower the night before so I can have even MORE time in bed in the morning.

I see a lot of myself in your post! I strggle so much with this whole keeping a house clean, and so does my husband. WE are quite a pair.

I probably won't be much help... plus I don't have kids... but here are a few things I have learned over the last couple years.

1) I do the laundry right when I get up. I walk the dogs and let them out to play, and wash and fold laundry while I watch them through the back window. I used to waste that time just watching them.

Lesson: Find the wasted bits of time when you are essentially waiting for something else to happen, and find something to fill it that is mindles sand can be started and stopped at any time (like laundry)

2) Same with dishes. I eat toast every morning. It takes about as long to unload the dishwasher as it takes for my toast to pop up. :)

3) I ignore what I don't care about. Wrinkly clothes? Eh!

4) DH and I split up tasks... sort of on accident, but they work for us. He takes out trash and recycling. I deal with compost. Etc.

Those are just my ramblings... I look forward to seeing what everyone else says, too!

Diane Fay (littlealma) said...

Ah - yes I just made myself a note to see how others do it also! I too am very handicapped in that area! I often feel like a terrible person, that other people can keep their houses clean and for some reason I can't! I usually joke that when I was born I didn't get that gift. Sometimes I dearly wish I had it, other times I don't care! So I will be watching to see if I can learn anything also!

Have fun! Diane

(I also have an old home-like a farmhouse-with no closets, no garage, and no real basement! I try and convince people this is the reason my house is the way it is)

We are in said...

I'm not the worlds best housekeeper either, and my children are all grown so hat's off to you that you're probably doing more my 10 am than I'll do all day.

Here are a couple of things that I've found through the years that have helped some:

I found it was easier to keep up with if I didn't keep all my cleaning supplies in one central location. If I had to walk too far to get what I needed the chances of my just skipping it greatly increased.

Putting one of those little plastic caddy thingys with a bottle of windex, a can of polish, and a couple of rags and maybe one or two other items that might be helpful on every floor of the house eliminated a lot of unnecessary steps and some of my procrastination. If you can afford to have a vacuum cleaner on every floor - that's just heavenly!

As far as routines, I don't know if I have one. I shower after breakfast. Make the bed sometime after that. I force myself to hang my coat in the closet when I come in the door and usually kick my shoes in at the same time. I make myself put my purse and keys on a hook so I can find them. I say "force" because my first instinct is to throw everything on the nearest chair.

Aside from that, pretty much anything goes. I vacuum and dust when I can see that it's needed. Or if company is coming...

Amongst The Oaks said...

I like to get up early before the kids so I have some sane time. I make my bed while I'm still in it sort of. You know; throw the pillows off, sit up straight, flap the covers, slither out, put the pillows back. It helps that we have a down comforter, cause they always look lumpy.
Then I blog (very important chore), wake the kids, take a shower, get ready for work, tidy the bathroom, and take the dirty laundry to the laundry room.
In fact, when my kids were little I invented DPRs. Daily Personal Responsibilities. Everyone has to make their bed, get cleaned up and dressed, take their laundry to the laundry room, eat breakfast, brush their teeth and get ready for the day. I made a list for each kid and we still use them. Well, now that they are teens, that old pre-frontal lobe issue makes them forget sometimes, but we try.
Then I drive them to school and go to work and when they come home at 3 they are supposed to do their homework, unload the dishwasher and set the table for dinner. Then me and LOM make dinner and they clean up and start the dishwasher.
I do grocery shopping and laundry on the weekend, WHICH I HATE, because I'd rather be doing fun stuff.
I hardly ever really clean the house. Horrifying, isn't it? I just do what needs to be done when I see it. Like sweep the kitchen, wipe off some finger prints, etc. I think the reason it works is because I am constantly putting things away. If I'm going in the kitchen, I pick up any dishes I see and take them with me. If I'm going the other direction, I take clothes to put away. I figure if it's tidy, no one will notice the dust.
A few times a year though, it gets to me and I move all the furniture, use the Webster, dust really good and wash the windows. And I figure that's good enough. A house should be lived in first and just clean enough to be healthy.
Now, let's go have some fun!
Laura from Amongst The Oaks

Decorina said...

Two magic words for you: Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell. Book changed my life forever. I still order his products (Red Juice rules) and use his techniques. I even used his method and cleaned for other people.

I love your blog and look forward to reading more!

BTW - is this Wit's End as in Adventure?