Clean House in a Year

Full Disclosure: I’m not using this method at the moment.

I want to get the kids more involved, and specific requirements seems to work best. We’re using the list Motivated Moms. To that, I add things that I want to get more attention (cook supper), and subtract things we don’t need (replace hand towels every 2 days). Each week we agree on the jobs that it only makes sense for us to do (I’m the only one with a driving licence), then take turns picking the rest. Any job that will take more than 20 minutes counts extra. (Dad already contributes 40 hours a week for the paycheque, plus anything to do with the roof (I hate heights), plus internet support, plus helping out as needed elsewhere.)

So far, so good. The fact that it’s an Official schedule, rather than one Mom dreamed up helps. So does everyone seeing all the work that gets done, and that they are doing no more than their fair share.

Will that deep-clean the house in a year? No, since it might not allot enough time to our worst corners, but the basics will get done. Most weeks there’s a “clean a drawer” or deep cleaning task, which can be used for the easiest, or most-annoying, space. There’s enough difference in the specific tasks that you don’t get to go through the same box each week.

The method I’m about to describe should work, but it takes more supervision and initiative. The task descriptions are much vaguer.

The system has three parts: Daily, Zone, and Project.

Daily, well, you don’t need a system to know which days to do them, or how much to do. Include a tour of the entire house. Carry a basket, and at least get everything back to the right room. Leave everything that can wait 10 days.

Zone cleaning is for things that the perfect homemaker does weekly, and for spring cleaning, except the spring cleaning is spread over the year.

Divide the house into 10 zones. Assign each zone a number. On days ending with 1, spend 15 minutes in zone 1. On January 5 you spend 15 minutes in zone 5, and on February 20 you spend 15 minutes in zone 10.

Each zone will get personalized attention every 10 days. That’s not weekly, but still pretty good. Do whatever will make that room more comfortable. Start with general tidying and routine work. Then work on deep cleaning. Even if half the session is routine, you’ll still spend 4.5 hours a year deep cleaning.

Only take out what you can finish in the allotted time. Do one dresser drawer at a time rather than dumping them all. Remember, anything you spread out will stay that way for 10 days.

The 31st of the month is for resting, or catch-up, or an extra session on a bigger project.

Zones 9 and 10 miss out in February. Treat them as missed days, described later.

Single rooms can be divided into 2 or more zones. Mopping the kitchen takes 15 minutes, so is a zone of its own. Appliances and cupboards might be a second kitchen zone.

A zone can have more than 1 room. If one room is erratic (my entry hall needs more work some seasons), combine it with a less-urgent room (my craft corner can wait till next season).

A corner or concept can be a zone, if attention every 10 days is suitable.

Over the first few months you might even finish a zone. When that happens, you can re-organize and combine rooms, or invoke the Project.

Only have one Project at a time. When you finish a zone with time left on the clock, work on the Project. With only one active project, you’ll only have one messy in-progress area. It will get attention frequently, and get done.

If you miss a day or two, you can either ignore them and stick to the calendar, or double up for a few days to catch up. (Only do half the time in each zone.) If you often miss the same days (month end at work means you often skip zones 8, 9 and 10), maybe reorganize the zones so those are a bit lighter.

If you miss several days, start with zone 1, but only do things that can’t wait. Then do the urgent things in zone 2, and so on, until the timer rings. Once the zone matches the calendar, go back to the normal schedule. Again, if you often miss the same days, maybe reorganize the zones.

Like I said, this season I need to plan with the kids, and make the chores specific. With any luck (and a bit of self-discipline), I’ll be able to keep it up when school starts.

So, I’m throwing the other system into the world to see what happens.

 

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