Yup, my head went up with yours! I’m sitting here listening to the whir of the washer and dryer. But unlike a few months ago, when that would have completely stressed me out, I’ve figured out how to pace myself, stay on top of the cleaning, and keep a spotless house when I’m exhausted.
If you’ve found your way to this post, you’re likely a stepmom or a woman with chronic illness, like me. Either way, you know EXACTLY what I mean by the exhaust. To make matters worse, if you manage to find the time and energy to get everything clean, you’ve probably overdone it and set yourself back for tomorrow.
Unfortunately, being tired and out of energy doesn’t keep the dust away. Or the dishes clean and put up. And it certainly doesn’t keep the dog from shedding.
So how do you overcome the bone-deep tiredness to stay on top of the housework? Stick around and I’ll break it down into a few manageable chunks so you can stop worrying about house cleaning. I’ve lovingly named this the Small Chunks Cleaning method and I’m positive you’ll find it helpful.
Years of working in the professional realm gave me a minor addiction to Google apps. Ok, if I’m being honest, it’s probably a little more than ‘minor’.
I LOVE Google Calendar. And Google Drive. And all things Google. For me, this is a convenient love because I also happen to be really good at navigating the apps and using them in helpful ways.
You don’t oversee dozens of local, state, and federal elections without getting good at using a calendar. So now that I work from home, what better use for that passion and skill than applying it to my everyday life!
I’m going to make a few assumptions here. You probably have one of the two problems:
Problem 1: Your house isn’t as clean as it could be.
Prediction: You want an easy solution to one/both of the previous two problems.
Well, if we combine those problems with Google Calendar, we have a really handy solution. However, before we get there, we need to cover some basics.
It’s not reasonable to assume you can clean the whole house once a week if you’re a busy stepmom or fighting a chronic illness. The Small Chunks Cleaning method takes that into account and utilizes an amazing, free, accessible technology to keep you on track and help your house stay spotless.
You’ll find a lot of my advice starts with making a plan. Granted, making a plan will never likely cover all circumstances. But it puts you in the right frame of mind to move forward and prepares you to think critically about what you might or might not face.
In this case, you need to know what your limitations are and how to navigate them.
If you can’t clean a full bathroom in one day, don’t plan on doing it. You’re setting yourself up for failure. If your step kids come home on Wednesday afternoon, it probably doesn’t make sense to clean the kitchen floors on Wednesday morning.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there days/times I am not available for housework? This could be because you’re working. Or you have a standing appointment. Perhaps there are times you feel worse (I cannot function as well in the morning).
- Are there days/times when it doesn’t make sense to do a certain task? I previously gave an example, but this could be anything for any reason. If you’ve got an upstairs neighbor who hates your vacuum and is home every Tuesday, that would be a good thing to make note of.
- What are my limits for any given day? This could be a set time – not more than 30 minutes of cleaning, for example – or a single activity.
- Are there tasks that I can reasonably delegate? If so, please do it! We oftentimes feel like we have to do it all when there are people who are willing and able to help. Or at the very least will say Yes if you ask.
Hopefully, these questions help you wrap your mind around limitations and timeframes. Once you have a good handle on it, move on to the next step.
This part should be pretty easy. I’ll bet you already have it in your mind and just need to put it on paper.
You just need a list of all the tasks that should be done to keep your house clean. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a list, you can get one emailed to you below with a worksheet to help you through this process.
At this point, this list doesn’t need to be broken down. Just take 5 minutes and put everything you think of down on paper.
Once you have your list, take another 5 minutes to write how often a particular task needs to be done to keep your house clean. For example, I want to clean our bathrooms every two weeks. The dishes need to be put up daily.
This is the repeated requirement for each task. Unless you have a reason otherwise, this repeat requirement should follow each task through the next step.
If you’re thinking “there’s no way I can clean all the bathrooms every two weeks” you are probably right. If I did attempt all three bathrooms in one day, I’d be flat on the couch for multiple days every two weeks. And much too tired and cranky to spend quality time with my step kids.
That’s why this step is one of the most important. And also relies heavily on the question you answered for yourself when you were making a plan.
What you should do now is break every item down into a more manageable chunk. Of course, your list might look different depending on how much time and energy you are able to spare for each item.
Instead of cleaning the bathroom, you have clean master bathroom floors/sink, clean kids’ bathroom floors/sink, clean showers, and clean toilets.
It is important that no task be longer, or require more energy than you can reasonably expect to give in a certain day.
By now, you should have:
- A basic idea of your schedule for cleaning
- A list of manageable cleaning tasks
- A repeat requirement for each task
Essentially, you are picking days and times that work for each task. You can then use the built-in Google Calendar functionality to set the task on repeat. I’ll put a summary of steps below, but I recommend watching the video to get a full step-by-step.
- If you do not have one, create a Google account.
- Click on the Google Apps button to go to the Calendar, or go to calendar.google.com in your browser.
- Click on the day/time you’d like to do a particular task. I wash my sheets on the first of every month, for example.
- Enter the task title.
- Click the drop-down that says Does Not Repeat.
- Select the Custom option on the drop-down.
- Select how often you want the task to repeat.
- Re-schedule any tasks that are doubled-up or you can’t do on a day, if necessary.
One of my favorite things about this method is that once you’ve caught up, it starts to go quicker and quicker. A shower that was cleaned two weeks ago, for example, is much easier and quicker to clean than one that wasn’t cleaned in recent memory.
I’ll admit it takes a little hard work to get going. But once you do, you’ll notice that it takes 15 minutes a day instead of 30. And you worry about the state of your house MUCH less than you did when you didn’t have any control over what was being cleaned and when.
If you have pain or fatigue problems, there are a few extra things you can do to make this plan even more manageable. I would recommend some of these accommodations to keep you on track, out of pain, and successful:
- Be willing to adjust. Adjusting is not a failure. If you’re having a terrible health day, move your task for that day and don’t stress about it.
- Get the proper tools. A duster on a pole, for example, for cleaning fans. And a mop instead of getting on your hands and knees to scrub floors. And be sure to pick out a vacuum that you can manage and isn’t too heavy.
- Have the tools handy. If you live in a two-story house, have a set upstairs and down. You can also have cleaning supplies in each bathroom if you struggle to carry things across the house.
- Go at a reasonable pace. It’s not a race and if you need to sit down, please do.
- Be careful of chemicals. This might not apply to everyone, but people with chronic illnesses often have multiple chemical sensitivity. You can read more about that it my survival guide to Fibromyalgia. If this applies to you, try to find chemical-free or less harsh cleaning agents.
You may also be interested in checking out this excellent advice from another chronic illness blogger, The Spoonie Mummy, on cleaning the house with chronic illness.
With any luck, you’re feeling a lot more confident in your ability to keep your house spotless even if you’re exhausted. This is a task that is hard for everyone, not just those of us in particular circumstances.
However, assuming you set a realistic cleaning schedule and got Google on board to help you stay on track, you should be well on your way to a clean house in no time.
Don’t forget to sign up below to get a free copy of the Small Chunks Cleaning method worksheet and cleaning tasks list.
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