Frustrated and overwhelmed by a one-size-fits-all cleaning plan? Maybe the plan is the problem, not you. Try new things and find out what works for you!
By Hilary Bernstein, Contributing Writer
I was at my wits’ end. Looking around at my messy home, I didn’t know what was wrong. Why couldn’t I get a better handle on my housework?
I Googled possible housekeeping routines and searched Pinterest for solutions – yet nothing seemed to work.
Over and over I would try different cleaning plans and they would work for a couple weeks. But then a busy couple of weeks would happen and knock me off track.
Once my home started to look like a wreck again, I’d find a new plan to try and repeat the cycle.
A lot like yo-yo dieting, I became a yo-yo homemaker. When my home was clean, it was really clean. And when it wasn’t … well, it wasn’t.
I thought something was wrong for sure – I read all about bloggers and their homemaking routines and schedules, yet all of it seemed impossible to me.
The perfect fit
Finally, one day something clicked. No one else’s printables and cleaning schedules worked for me. And there’s no way I should’ve expected them to work. They were a perfect fit for the creator … not for me.
It had been nice that someone else went through the hard work of figuring out a routine – but it just wasn’t a fit for my personality or my home.
So I tried to create my own cleaning plan – not for anyone else, but for myself.
- I knew how clean I wanted certain spaces to be … and how dirty I could tolerate other spaces.
- I understood the specific cleaning challenges I had in each space of my home.
- And I saw my schedule and knew free times I had to clean.
I began caring for my home on my own terms. And I was able to keep things clean, find time to purge, and transform my home into a haven.
By forgetting about anyone else’s suggested routines, I could focus on what worked well for me, my family, and our home.
And slowly but very surely, it became easier to keep up with caring for me home.
(I’m not the only homemaker who has made this freeing revelation! Erin has, too … and she’s found a homemaking rhythm that works well for her.)
Finding what works for you
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your own home – and feeling like none of the cleaning plans you’ve tried works, give yourself grace. Be encouraged that it might not be you.
The issue simply might be that what you’ve tried just isn’t a good fit for you.
Instead of feeling like a homemaking failure, don’t give up. Keep trying with a focus on figuring out what needs cleaned in your home, when you have the time to clean, and how clean you like everything.
(If you could use a little a jumpstart with your cleaning, I’d love for you to join my new, FREE 14 Days to a Cleaner Home Challenge. Just click here to join!)
Once you find what works for you and your home, you’ll discover it’s not about the housework. It’s all about your approach.
To help you figuring everything out, Hilary started My Own Clean, a program that will help you create a cleaning approach just for you and your home. You can find out details here.
This is so true for the longest time I struggled with this!!! No one has the same things, schedule, family, etc.. and so no one can have the same cleaning routine. When I realized this it was defiantly a game changer. Great post thank you.
Thanks so much, Millie!
Have you ever read the book “The House That Cleans Itself”? It’s probably the first book about organizing and cleaning that is tailored to finding your own rythymn, and making your house work for you and your own habits.
For example, I used to keep a laundry hamper in the bedroom, but since I undressed in the master bathroom most of the time, I’d end up jusing dropping the clothes on the floor and telling myself that I’d move it to the hamper later. Which I didn’t, and would feel guilty about when I ended up with a pile of several days of clothes in there. That book helped me to accept my habit, and working with it by putting a laundry hamper in the bathroom, rather than trying to change my habit. It sounds basic, and in a lot of ways it is, but it is the kind of basic that you won’t see even with it staring you in the face. 😛
I’ve never heard of that book before, Rebecca, but you’re right … it makes a big difference when you keep things close to where you use them!
The best thing is finding your way of handling things – your career, your home, your everything. I really don’t like these one-size-fits-all attitude towards life 🙂 Good you’ve figured it out 🙂
When I went back to school for my nurse practitioner degree, all progress in my home came to a complete halt…..and just piled up. 3 years and an insanely messy house later ( with 3 boys and their stuff too)….. I cannot get a hold of the crisis level my home is in. One of my biggest challenges is trying to decide what to keep, what to give away, and what to throw away. ( clothes, TOYS, momentos from my boys, etc.) Any guidance?
I just stumbled on this site- It looks great! I happen to be a neat- yet not OCD keeper of the house. My 2 daughters and daughter in law struggle. As I see it, there are some pretty simple “habits” that could change things for the way better.
I was a single parent so I had live in help to clean my house and clean up dinner but…I taught my help what to do. They didn’t kill themselves and the house was always pretty clean and pretty neat. Guess my daughter’s didn’t get the opportunity to learn the basics…but growing up I DID! I am blown away by how overwhelmed they are as non working moms.
Just like anything, it starts with some simple changes: Be more organized.
Start cooking in a neat kitchen. Not one where the breakfast dishes are still in the sink because the dishwasher hasn’t been unloaded from dinner the night before. This doesn’t have to take an hour- figure 15 minutes. This may sound crazy but I still load my dishwasher for EZ unloading.
Put spices and other ingredients away right after you use them- not allowing them to spread out all over the kitchen.
Teach the kids to PUT one toy, game or puzzle away before taking out another- Start that when they are age 2- even if they just see YOU doing it at first- you’re still teaching. They’ll have to do that in school anyway and it’s a great life skill/habit which will serve them all through their life.
As I see it the worse part of a “messy” house is that clutter creates mental kayos rather than a peaceful environment. Kids should not be allowed to wreck the place. You don’t have to be OCD to want to live in an orderly neat peaceful environment.
Sort laundry so it’s EZ to put away.
Sorry- a messy house is not the sign of happy kids.
I’d start in the storage areas- get rid of stuff from there FIRST to create space for anything new you want to store or save. Resist shoving MORE in those places.
Do one room at a time then keep it orderly- which is easier to keep clean anyway.
I always started with the easiest- which motivated/inspired me to keep going! 🙂
Get the kids to help where they can- so they can feel proud and be more likely to keep it neat.
Neat is first- clean is second. Trying to clean a messy house is pretty impossible.
I agree with Fran, Brenda … I’d start it one part of one room and slowly work your way around your home. It may take a long time to clean this way, but if you work on a little bit every day (10-20 minutes), you’ll start to make a dent. I’ve found that setting a timer – and knowing I just have a few minutes to focus on work – helps me stay motivated to race the clock and see how much I can get done.
As for what to keep and what to give away, I’d highly recommend asking yourself with every single thing you own if you love it or need it. If you don’t, it’s time to pass it along to someone else who could use it. With kids, you may end up with more than you’d necessarily like – in my home, we’re storing things (clothes, toys, books) our kids will grow into. But at least you can get a good start at creating a more manageable home by doing this.
‘Keep trying with a focus on figuring out what needs cleaned in your home, when you have the time to clean, and how clean you like everything.’
Straight to my point. It’s not that I do not like other suggestions. Sometimes it’s just better to clean by your rules. No offense. Do it like you like. It’s not a science.
I agree 100 %. You just have to figure out what works for you, and included in that is how high your housecleaning standards are and how much time you’re willing to give to it. I, personally, am a random homemaker :). I love “systems” for a few days, but then I get bored with them and I’m onto something else. Variety keeps me interested. So I have no guilt at using 3 x 5 index cards (a la The Sidetracked Home Executives), then the go-around-the-room Mount Vernon method (from author Sandra Felton), then FlyLady’s 27 fling boogie. I use them all for short periods. I think the secret is that there actually is no secret. Every homemaker’s life and schedule are constantly changing so there is a perpetual adjustment going on. Love this topic, it is so helpful to let go of the guilt and just do your best, whatever that looks like.