One of the aspects I love about the fall season is the sense of renewal that I feel. I think it’s because fall is a time of new beginnings; a new school year, a new season, not to mention a new routine. After the ‘lazy days’ of summer – or rather the ‘lazy brain’ of summer – I am always left feeling hopeful by the reinvigorating effects of fall.
And yet for all its reinvigoration, fall is also a busier time. Whether you are a full-time student, a full-time employee or full-time caregiver or mom, things always – and routinely – ramp-up at this time of year. For my part, I fall into the second category – full-time employee – and find myself spending most of my waking hours in a cramped office away from my beloved home & family. Living as far as I do from the workplace – about an hour’s bus ride at the height of rush hour – I have only 2-3 hours left in my evening to prepare dinner, eat, and tend to the home.
And I have to admit, I’ve been failing to keep up. Like a deer caught in headlights – er, more like a girl caught in the dyer – I’ve managed to reach nearly every Sunday these past few – ahem, several – weeks, having forgotten to do key house chores for that week.
Photograph by Ryan McGuire
These have included finishing that last load of laundry (so that’s where those socks went!), leaving clothes or sheets in the dryer overnight giving them plenty o’ time to get wrinkled (must now iron – argh), not turning on the dishwasher for that overflowing load of dishes (I guess it’s breakfast for dinner again 🙂 ), not cleaning the ensuite bathroom for yet another week (cue very scary movie music), and not even considering the need to vaccuum the furniture which is a must for pet owners (hello balls of fur!).
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time to get my days back! Whether you are a student, young professional, stay-at-home mom or dad, and wishing to move from survival mode to taking charge of your home or, at the very least, wanting some sense of accomplishment, these 5 tips to reclaiming your homekeeping routine can work for anyone (I kept this list small as much for me as for anyone wanting to get back to a homekeeping routine; sometimes those ‘top 25’ lists can feel even more overwhelming!)
1. Create a PT List or ‘Priority Tasks List’
These are those tasks or chores that absolutely must get done each and every week. They may be as simple as laundry, dishes, bathroom(s), garbage, and vacuuming or whatever combination of chores that need doing. We can all get caught up with adding to that list with tasks that are not ‘needed’ but simply desirable. But if you are to regain and reclaim your routine, it is far better to have a smaller PT List with realistic, ‘bite-size’ chores that you actually complete, then to create a long laundry list (pardon the pun) of chores that are only partially completed by the end of the week and thus adding to your burden and overall feeling of failing, once again, to achieve your goals that week.
You are busy enough as it is. Don’t add to your burdens. Keep your PT List as short as possible. Set yourself up for success. And anything that you can achieve above and beyond the PT List will just be all that much more satisfying.
2. Complete 1 Chore A Day
Photograph by Jay Mantri
When we are in the process of reclaiming our homekeeping routine, it can be tempting to tackle too much too soon. We bite off more than we can chew and inevitably, we end up throwing in the towel and letting our chores pile up again. Or we leave everything for the weekend – guilty! – and end up spending our entire ‘time off’ cleaning and scrubbing our way to exhaustion by Sunday night! I cannot tell you the countless number of weekends where I have done just that. My Monday morning response to colleagues who ask ‘What did you do this weekend?’ is often followed by ‘oh, nothing special; just puttered around the house.’ When really, I should have responded – more often than I care to admit – with ‘cleaned my house till I dropped on the couch on Sunday night in a pool of my own perspiration and exhaustion!’
Let’s face it, house cleaning takes up the bulk of homekeeping. Whether it’s washing the dishes, running loads of laundry, vacuuming or mopping, these are essential to keeping a home running smoothly. And if you are anything like me, then staying motivated to clean your home is the most challenging part of tackling the PT List. So by focusing on just 1 home chore each day – one load of laundry for example, or sweeping the kitchen and entryways – you will feel a sense of accomplishment, be more likely to see your PT List as achievable and, best of all, stay motivated to stay on track.
3. Organize High Traffic Areas
Nothing is worse than trying to tackle your PT List while manoeuvring around papers, books, clothes and toys, or – if you’re like me – around craft supplies, half-consumed coffee cups, and crumpled up papers and tissues 😉 For some of us, reclaiming our homekeeping routine may include organizing key zones of the home first before tackling your PT List.
First, determine what these high traffic areas are. For many of us this will include the kitchen, living room, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Perhaps the entryway, mudroom and other zones could be tackled later, depending on their level of use in your home. Start one room at time – this can be done over a period of a week, if you are unable to set a day aside a day (or weekend 😉 ) – and start putting things away into drawers, containers, and cupboards and then hang everything else up.
To help you get started with some organizational ideas and inspiration, check out my post ‘6 Weeks to a More Organized Home.’
I’ve also created a Pinterest Board dedicated to some of the best tips and DIYs on home organization from around the web:
Sometimes we need a little inspiration from others to help us get started.
4. Be Realistic About Time
Photography by Ariana Escobar
Know your time! I think everyone can relate to those periods when we’ve underestimated just how long a chore or task will take. For some, creating a schedule, allotting a certain number of minutes (or even setting a timer) is helpful. But for many of us – myself included – this may cause more stress than is necessary.
Keeping a daily, 1-chore schedule and, most importantly, knowing which tasks to do in the evenings and which are best accomplished during the weekend, will save you from stopping halfway through a chore to go to bed or dash out of the house to make your doctor’s appointment simply because you’ve miscalculated how long it would take. If you can understand how much time you need to tackle your chores, this will save you from a lot of grief in the process.
Bottom line? Always give yourself more time to complete a chore.
5. Pursue Progress, Not Perfection
Photograph by Aaron Burden
It may take a few weeks to figure out how to schedule your chores, how much time to allot to each one, and to whittle down the PT List to an achievable, realistic set of tasks. In other words, you’ll need to give yourself time to evaluate and re-evaluate your PT List, including the order in which you’ll be accomplishing each item, and the time it takes to get each task done.
For these reasons, it is important to give yourself the permission to change your mind, move things around from time to time (even season to season) and, quite honestly, the permission to fail to accomplish everything on your list sometimes. Life happens; kids happen; work happens; school happens. We all need to focus on life’s priorities first, whatever they may be, so that we can return to our routines with the focus and attention they deserve.
Taking small steps in pursuit of your goals is better than pursuing a perfectly ordered home that will never happen. If you are a ‘perfectionist’ by nature – unfortunately, I can relate – then you may be tempted to say ‘if I can’t do it well, I might as well not do it at all.’ But that is a self-defeating approach that, quite frankly, never ever satisfies. When we set ourselves up for failure of this kind – because, let’s face it, nothing and no one is perfect – then we sacrifice making progress when we choose not to do something because it does not live up to our unrealistic standards.
Progress, not perfection should be the goal.
The more often we practice progress over perfection, the more likely we are to create a robust homekeeping routine that is realistic, flexible, and that can stand up to the ebbs and flows of life. Give yourself permission to do things ‘imperfectly,’ and see how much more satisfying your homekeeping routine will be.
Happy homekeeping 🙂
Top image photo credit: Karolina Grabowska
All photos credited to others in this post have been sourced from StockSnap.