Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cleaning, Cleaning and more Cleaning!

Spring cleaning is in session at our house!

So let me just start off by saying that our house is 4,000 square feet with six bedrooms, four full bathrooms and three floors, and as much as I enjoy living here, when it comes to cleaning it's a BEAST. I sometimes have a real love/hate relationship with this house. I love having all the space to spread out, I love all the storage and we're happy here. But sometimes I feel like my house is eating me alive. I feel like a hamster on a wheel and as hard as I try I never manage to get anywhere. We'd get the upstairs clean and the main floor is a mess. We'd get the main floor clean and the upstairs is a mess. With a toddler in the house there are days when EVERYTHING is a mess. Living in a mess drives me crazy, but keeping up on all the housework around here feels like a full time job that sometimes I don't have time for.

When we just had two kids we somehow managed to make it work and the house was generally pretty clean. I don't know what knocked it over the edge when we added a third child but suddenly I couldn't keep up anymore. Shawn is an awesome helper. Probably the best helper of any husband I know. But even between the two of us we sometimes feel like we're just spinning our wheels. The toys and clutter get picked up on a regular basis, but some of the deep cleaning and other projects have been put off much longer than they should have been. We're busy and we put off projects, we stick things in a closet to deal with another day and all of a sudden recently we kind of looked around and said "holy crap, what has happened to our house?". There is dust in places that shouldn't be dusty, there are closets I would be mortified for anyone to peek into, there are half finished projects and crumbs in the couch and sticky toddler fingerprints on the walls and suddenly we realized that we couldn't take another minute of it.

So over the weekend we got to work. We had a long talk with the kids about working together as a team and getting back to a clean, organized house, and we went to work. We organized shelves, we scrubbed walls and baseboards, we cleaned under beds, we fixed things that were broken, we dusted and wiped and vacuumed and shined. For two and a half days we all worked together to get our house back in order. In a house this size it's not easy task to clean the whole thing from top to bottom, especially when you're deep cleaning things that haven't gotten attention in a while. We all worked really really hard and then went out for ice cream when we finished.

It's still not perfect, we still have a few things on the list that we didn't get to yet, and there are still a few problem zones (mainly a few scary closets!) that need addressed, but it's amazing how much better it looks and feels around here now. We spent a long time with the boys going through their bedrooms and reorganizing all their toys and getting rid of things they've grown out of and they are loving their newly organized bedrooms.

My favorite part is the bookshelf project I spent an entire morning on. We have a gigantic built in bookshelf at the top of our stairs that we've been shoving books into for quite a long time. We have a TON of books, I'm a bit of a book hoarder! I took every single book off the shelves, we fixed the shelves that were sagging a bit, we dusted everything really well and then I went through every single book, decided what to keep, what to donate and then reorganized everything back on the shelves in a specific order (kids book on the bottom shelf, church and non-fiction on the second shelf, Shawns books on the third shelf and mine on the top) and now it looks amazing!

But the greatest part of all is the chore chart system I came up with to keep the house looking as nice as it does now. We realized that part of the problem around here has been that the kids haven't been helping enough. They do have some chores, but we didn't have an effective system and they haven't been helping around here as much as they could be. I broke up the house into five zones and assigned everyone chores in that zone each day. Instead of trying to tackle the whole house at once, which is impossible, we'll just focus on one zone every day, which is much more manageable. The day to day clutter will still get picked up like usual, but when it comes to deep cleaning we'll focus on one section of the house a day, which means the whole house gets deep cleaned once a week like it should be and I'm not going to be going insane trying to keep up.

I also assigned everyone a laundry day, which I've done in the past and it worked great until we got off track with it a while ago. Basically, everyone in the family has their own laundry day and on that day we only do that one persons laundry. In the morning they bring down their basket and I wash it in the morning and whoever it belongs to takes it out of the dryer in the afternoon, folds it and puts it away. It is SO much easier to fold laundry and put it away when it all belongs to one person. No sorting socks, no figuring out whose jeans belong to who. There are five people in our family and five weekdays, so it works out perfectly. On Saturday I do sheets and towels.

So we now have a handy dandy chart on the fridge that I created which lists everyone's laundry day, the kids chores, it has a dinner menu on it, a schedule of what activities we have going on during the week and a spot for notes in case something comes up that we need to remind ourselves of. Everyone can consult the chart to find out what's for dinner, what the cleaning zone is, what their chores are, what appointments we have that day and any other important information.

And now my life is MUUUUCH easier. :) The boys have been awesome about all the cleaning we did and about their new chore schedule. They weren't so thrilled about it when we started but as soon as we started organizing their rooms and they saw how much nicer it was going to be they got really excited and were totally on board. Now when they get out their Legos or books or whatever else they do in their bedrooms, they're putting everything back when they're done because as I pointed out a million times over the weekend, it's WAY easier to do a little maintenance now than a complete three day overhaul later. I don't think anyone wants a repeat of what we just had to go through over the weekend to whip the house back into shape! It's easier just to stick to the schedule and keep it maintained on a daily basis.

 So between all the work we did on the outside of the house over the past month and all the work we did on the inside of the house this past weekend, life is feeling SO much better! Everyone is happy and organized and enjoying the house inside and out. Aahhhhhh.....:)

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