Thursday, January 15, 2009

Figuring out when "good enough" is really "good enough"

I've been sick, as in lie in the bed all day, every day, since I got back from my trip to Miami. Today is the first day I've been able to get up, get dressed, and take the poor dog out. Is there anything more depressing than lying in a sickbed, on sheets that could be fresher, watching the dustbunnies multiplying by the minute-- but feeling too awful to do anything about it? As the dust mites assaulted my tender sinuses, I was lying there thinking, HOW DID THIS GET SO BAD? I was only gone 5 days!!

My normal daily cleaning blitz usually consists of:

  • airing the bed
  • cleaning the kitty boxes
  • vacuuming spilt litter
  • vacuuming the family room and our bedroom (i.e., doing "the middle of the floor")
  • rinsing out the bathtub and mopping up any standing water on the tub surround
  • swiffer-sweeping the bathroom floor
  • making the bed
  • washing, drying and refilling the pet bowls
  • emptying the dishwasher
  • restoring the kitchen to order if I've cooked (wiping counters, stovetop, putting away food, loading the dishwasher, etc.)
  • washing and drying the dog's food bowl (he eats twice a day)
  • checking the fridge for food beyond its prime and tossing it
  • wiping up any spills in the fridge
  • cleaning the kitty boxes
  • wipe out the microwave
  • running the dishwasher
  • swiffer-sweeping the kitchen (if I've cooked)
  • swiffer wet-jet the kitchen (if I've cooked)
On Wednesdays, I also:
  • disinfect the pet bowls
  • strip the bed
  • change the bed linens
  • do the laundry
On Saturdays, I also:
  • strip the bed
  • change the bed linens
  • do the laundry
  • do the weekly cleaning
My DC helps me with the weekly cleaning ("heavy housework") on Saturdays.
He does the bedroom and family room (i.e., vacuuming: under the bed, under the sofa, the sofa cushions, the mattress, the stairs, and dusting)

I do the kitchen and baths:
  • wash the fridge
  • clean the oven
  • remove everything and wash the counters and backsplashes
  • scrub the floors
  • wash and disinfect the kitchen trash can
  • wash the combs and brushes
  • wash the toothbrush holder
  • clean the tubs, toilets, sinks
  • wipe down the cabinets
  • wash the mirrors
  • clean all the appliances
  • change the cat litter
  • disinfect the pet eating areas
The daily cleaning isn't bad-- it takes me about an hour a day. Luckily we live in an apt., so there's not as much to clean.

The weekly cleaning is a pain, it takes both of us 2-3 hours. The nice thing is, if I don't finish all the weekly stuff on Sat., I can either squeeze it in during the week or it can wait-- AS LONG AS I KEEP UP WITH THE DAILY CLEANING.

And that was the problem: I was too busy getting ready for my business trip to do the weekly OR the daily cleaning on 1/3 or 1/4, and I left on 1/5. While I was gone, DC ran the dishwasher and finished up a load of wash I didn't have time to dry, but otherwise, he didn't have time to do anything else. I work out of our home, which makes it easier for me to get the daily stuff done. DC is trapped at his office from 8-6 most days, then when he gets home, it's on to job #2.

Yikes!! Since I was too sick to do anything, I missed the weekly cleaning this week and the daily cleaning, too. In fact, the last time before today I did daily cleaning was 1/2, weekly cleaning, 12/27. No wonder the house is such a wreck!

Conclusion: I need an emergency routine that can tide us through hectic times, illness, etc. In thinking about it, what was really driving me crazy the most when I was too sick to move?

Honestly, not dust, smudgy mirrors, or the hairy sofa.

What was bumming me out:
  • The family room and bedroom carpets (with 3 pets, and 2 of them long-haired, things degenerate FAST)
  • stale bedclothes
  • overflowing laundry hamper
  • filthy pet bowls, breeding heaven knows what biological weapons
  • ditto, the bathroom
  • ditto, the fridge
  • stinky cat boxes
  • piles of dirty dishes in the kitchen
  • counters strewn with partially-empty pizza boxes (actually not this trip, but it has been memorable in the past)

Of the weekly cleaning, I think what absolutely has to get done is:
  • wash the fridge
  • wash the kitchen floor
  • clean the tubs, sinks, toilets
  • wash the bathroom counters
  • make sure the towels and underwear get washed
  • change the bed linens
Of the daily chores:
  • vacuum the family room and bedroom
  • clean the cat boxes (once is fine)
  • wash the pet bowls
  • put away food
  • put dirty dishes in the dishwasher, run when full
If all that gets done, it won't be perfect, but the house will still be mostly clean and pleasant. And that really IS good enough.

So next time I'm getting ready for a business trip or am under deadline, it's back to the bare minimum. When I'm sick, or out of town, between my DC and my DS, the bare minimum daily chores should not be too much for them to handle.

Lucky for me, they are ALWAYS glad to help out. My guys are THE BEST!


  1. Wow your house must be very clean. I am kinda picky to.

  2. Well, my house is certainly cleaner than it used to be! If left to my natural instincts, I am a complete pig, LOL, so I absolutely have to have a cleaning routine and stick to it. Otherwise, things degenerate into a filthy mess. Which is just depressing. Also unhealthy, since all of us have terrible allergies, too!

    It really hardly takes any time at all to do the daily cleaning (really, it's more KEEPING things clean). And we're pretty good about the weekly cleaning. But monthly tasks, like washing the windows, are still hit or miss.

    You are lucky to have your mom there to help out with housekeeping! :)


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