Cleaning and Organising the home - The Basics for Newbies

Although the book has literally been written over and over and over and over again, I’m going to talk to you about basic housekeeping. I am not re-inventing the wheel here, merely showing newbies how to start turning the wheel that has been turning in other homes for centuries now. Seeing as this blog is frequented by new mums and newlywed women who aren’t overly confident about how to keep the home in order, this ones for them.

So basically keeping your house clean enough to impress a king, just like many other things in life, is about prioritising & routine. As dull as that sounds, it works, and when you see the results, it don’t seem dull no more.

There are hundreds of methods on how to keep your home sparkling and it takes time to figure out what works for your home, your family, your watch, your style. So the ideas expressed here are just some of many, many ways to get it done, but they are certainly proven and successful ways.

First, write down a list of everything you could possibly think of that needs doing inside and outside of your home. Things that need to be done constantly, and even things that may only need to be done every few months. It's to be as exhaustive a list as you can make it. Your list could include (but not be limited to) tasks such as these:

Dishes, washing, ironing, window and mirror cleaning, bathroom clean, toilet disinfect, mopping, vaccuming, sweeping, polishing, general tidying, organising paperwork, keeping cupboards neat and organised, dusting, sweeping patio, watering garden, weeding,  etc etc etc

Don’t think that what works for your sister, mother, friend or neighbour will work for you. Although you should definitely go to people who have it together for advice, tips and how-to’s, remember to try things out, but dont be afraid to mould them to suit your home and family.

The Smith family might need to do a load of washing or two every single day because they have 6 kids and the husband is a mechanic. Wheras the Jones family may only need to do a load of washing twice a week as they are a couple who have no children and work in an office so can wear there clothes more than once before washing.

The smith family may live in a windy suburb where leaves and dirt fly onto the patio constantly, and they also entertain alot, so Mrs. Jones may need to give the patio a quick sweep 3x a week to keep it presentable, wheras the Smith family may live in a location which barely gets a breeze and the patio doesn’t get much use nor get much attack from the elements, therefore Mrs. Smith may only need to sweep the patio once a fortnight, and perhaps the day before guests are coming over.

So do determine what your home needs, take into account where you live, who lives there and what you do in and around your home.

With that said, the next thing you do once you have your list prepared, is decide how often things need to be done. Take into account everything said above when doing this, and know that this can sometimes take time to figure out. You may decide you only need to clean the shower once a fortnight sincey ou and your partner take alot of showers at the gym anyway, or you may find because your area has hardwater there is limescale build up within a week which needs attention weekly. Once your list is pretty much set right, you will find it easier to keep on top of things and it will become second nature to just do what you need to do, when you need to do it.

Mastering this list will also cause you to know which things to plan to invest in to make it easier. If you find your spending forever in the kitchen because you not only cook for 5 but love to bake and feel like your a human dishwasher, it may be time to discuss saving up for a dishwashing machine. It will save so much time and water! Or if you have a large house fully carpeted, and spend hours vaccuming with a cheap and nasty vaccum from kmart that needs you to go over the same spot 5x before its done properly, it may be time to save up for a decent hoover or Kirby perhaps which will cut your vaccumming time in half at least. Just a side note: A good quality vacuum cleaner is especially a good idea (id say absolutely necessary) if you have dogs and or cats inside your home. For hygene reasons and for guests who come over with allergies, a powerful vacuum cleaner will really help you keep on top of the fur.

Working harder isn’t always the best option. Now hard work certainly does make for a sparkling home and there is much to be said about a woman who is willing to do what it takes to make her home a haven for her family and guests, but don’t be a martyr and do things unnecessarily or “the hard way” just because your mother did it that way. If we all thought that way, we would still all be washing our clothes with a board, bucket and bar of soap, and be on our hands and knees scrubbing the floors with hard brushes and sudsy cloths instead of using a convenient mop and bucket.

The other side of that of course, are the “lazy susans”(sorry anyone named susan, its not a nice stereotype is it? Lol) who just choose to shortcut there way through everything. Wiping the bathroom down with a wet flannel when it really needs a scrub with vinegar and bi-carb or a serious disinfectant... or quickly rinsing dinner dishes off with just hot water & a scourer, half drying them and sticking them in the cupboard to fester with leftover invisible food bacteria until next use is just wrong... and lazy. There is a time and place for speedy-cheats such as using a baby wipe to get the hairs and dust of the bathroom sink before short-notice guests arrive, but it should not be your usual routine as it is unhygienic to not give things a good and proper clean regularly.

To keep the house generally spiffy, a good routine is the “15 mins per room a day” thing. If you choose 3 or 4 rooms a day not including the kitchen which obviously needs daily attention it means your spending up to an hour a day giving your home a good clean up, and the rest is just general tidying and kitchen duties. This does work, even for big, messy families. Especially if the kids are old enough to make their own rooms the clean-zone of there lives.

You can do alot with 15 mins. Especially in bedrooms. Bedroom clean? Bed made? Floor vaccumed? Bedside tables organised... done...right? nope. You can still use 15 mins well. Look up, do you need to get rid of cobwebs on the ceiling? Have you dusted all the surfaces lately? How are your clothing drawers looking? Need some sorting? Under the bed? Yes 15 mins will see to it that each room is more than presentable and cleanly. Plus, when you have rooms on rotation, by the time you get back to that room youll find it needs these things done all over again.

Same goes for bathroom, living room and dining. Although bathrooms do need extra attention sometimes as 15 mins isn’t all it takes to scrub mould off a tiled wall with a toothbrush and soak a shower curtain clean etc. In saying that, if your keeping up with cleaning schedule, the big jobs wont be so big when spring cleaning time and the like comes around.

If you cant afford alot of cleaning products, fear not. The cheapest remedies are often the best for not only your home but your health. White Vinegar can replace floor cleaner, washing machine cleaner and much more! Bi-carbonate soda can work wonders on dull clothing in the wash and also making your jewellery shine! Not to mention mixed with vinager it can eat away at alot of bathroom scum. You can use old rags, ripped up cotton shirts or microfiber rags to do alot of dusting, polishing and cleaning. These rags can be put through the wash and used until they start to wear thin! Unlike un-washable purpose-made towelettes, super-cloths and so on. Look into cheap alternatives to harsh chemicals. Youll cut down your product use by at least half, save yourself alot of money, and be a sensible “green” housekeeper.

To get motivated, you could get a friend involved. Make sure that they are as focused as you are. You don’t want to plan a day of cleaning only to sit down for 3 hours drinking coffee and yapping about everything and nothing. You can spend one day at theres, and one day at yours spring cleaning,or helping each other organise cupboards and bedrooms. Its more fun together, it gets done faster, and the other person might have an eye for things you don’t and vice versa. Or, you could babysit for each other. If getting your big cleaning jobs done are getting impossible as your bub becomes a toddler or your toddler becomes a little “helper”, then work out with a trusted friend who has children to take turns at taking each others kids for a half or full day. Half day should cover it though. This makes it easier for both of you, and gives your kids time out of your house, somewhere different, which might just set them in a better mood the next day, as playing at home isn’t as boring when youve been away.

If there is nobody to help because you live far out from anyone you know, or you just don’t really have those kind of friends, you’ll just have to make like many many other mothers and learn how to clean with bub/children in tow. It is very possible, it just takes a little imagination and alot of patience! I shall blog about how to do that at another time.

If you get yourself into routine, you will find that cleaning duties take up alot less of your time. You will find you have the time to sit down and read for a while, even if just a short while, or time to spend in the bath, painting toenails or whatever it is that makes you feel good, without the guilt of “I really should be cleaning out the bird-cage and mopping the floors right now” lurking over you. “HAH me time?” you might think “Lady, I have kids. Even if i did get the house organised, my time will be on them.” Not so my dear. Yes, youll have more time to spend with the little ones, more time to focus on their vast-attention needs. But this is a GOOD thing. When your kids know that they will have your undivided attention for a good part of the day, they will be more willing to let you go about your business at other times instead of hang off you starving for a look in. Plus, how many evenings have you just finished off the ironing instead of curling up to a good book, or tidying up the family room and dining room instead of taking in a movie with your husband because the day just flew and your working overtime after the kids go to bed? If you have it all done before the night falls, you have the evening to yourself! A luxury to some, but very possible to attain to.

Don’t forget, in all your routine and organising, prioritise! Dont bother vaccuming the window sills and weeding the yard two hours before your kids have a friend sleeping over. Focus on the childs room being clean and dust free so the guest sleeps well even if they have allergies,and get the living room kid-ready and tidy. Sometimes we get caught up in the insignificant, or things that can wait and forget the simple things that should be done. This goes for routine as well. Friday may very well be bird-cage clean, ironing and vaccuming day... but if your getting your car serviced in the morning and going out to a wedding in the evening on Friday, you will need to see to it that the car gets a clean-up and you don’t get so caught up in your routine that you leave time too short to properly get yourself and kids well groomed and dressed for the wedding. Use common sense and it will go a long way. Dont stress if things fall behind a little bit. If you stick to your routine as often as possible, it wont take too much to get back on track. Plus if you know something out of the ordinary routine is coming up, schedule it into your week so that things still get done instead of lots of things being left out or put on hold because of bad planning.

Prioritising and Routine. The path to sparkly lemony fresh surroundings.

You CAN do it!