My parents are creatures of habit. For as long as I’ve known them, they’ve always woken up before the crack of dawn. After which they’d express their dry humour – ‘since we’re up everyone should be up.’ And so the day always started early for me and my siblings. My mom drilled down to us that house chores were done in the morning. This is the way I’ve operated even after I came to Germany, away from her watchful eyes. Until two months ago when everything had to change.
After we got married, I got the feeling that the chores just didn’t come to an end. Despite my husband being helpful at home, I felt overwhelmed and to some extent depressed. I would wake up early to vacuum the house and load the washing machine with the previous day’s dirty clothes. Then I would start working, towards lunch I was preparing lunch for us to eat, then cleaning up afterwards. And work still had to go on. After work, I was cleaning the apartment to perfect everything – folding and ironing laundry, polishing here, buffing there, the chores were endless.
In reality, the chores weren’t that much. True they had increased but so had the help. Nigel took care of vacuuming and cooking on most days, so why was I feeling burnt out? Then it dawned on me. I was holding on to traditions and practices that didn’t serve me anymore. I was holding on to the way my mother told me to operate, which was great, except it was burning me out. I was competing with my mom’s standards, not the house chores.
See, my parents and their generation took pride in hard work and waking up early. Their generation believes in doing strenuous work for it to be satisfying. But I don’t pride myself on the same ideologies. I rather find joy in working smart- I am always asking myself how can I do this in the most efficient way but with the least amount of effort.
So I stopped. Is the apartment dirty? No. Is my husband satisfied? Yes. Am I burnt out? No.
So all I’m trying to say is, do what works for you in your context. Don’t stress yourself and most importantly don’t hold on to traditions and practices that don’t work anymore for you. I still keep our house clean and in top notch order but according to my standards and no one else’s. In case you’re wondering, I did talk to my mother, and I told I’d started doing things differently. She laughed and called me crazy. Which I probably am.
Now that this is off my chest, let’s talk about the cleaning schedule I’ve been using. I boiled it down to a simple idea -keep all rooms in a clean constant state, then deep clean one room a day for 30 mins. This allows me two days in the week where I don’t clean at all. I split the cleaning into three levels:
These are daily tasks we need to do to keep our home orderly. We like to cook most nights so a quick wipe down of kitchen countertops is a must and spreading the bed.
What you do will depend on your lifestyle, so those with kids might include a daily load of laundry, for example. I used to do this but I stopped – laundry is now done during the weekend.
These tasks shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes and it’s assumed you’re already doing this as a bare minimum, so they aren’t included in the 30 minutes.
Each day is dedicated to a room in our house and we spend 30 minutes cleaning it. We don’t need to do everything because we’ll be back again during the weekend to do a deeper clean. The idea is the longer you stick with it, the cleaner your house is, and the easier this becomes.
Each Saturday is reserved for focusing on less frequent jobs, such as cleaning the oven. This ensures that the big deep cleaning jobs don’t get missed. And vacuuming the entire apartment
You can try out my method, If it works for you – you’re welcome. If it doesn’t – consider it research and continue searching for what works for you. If you’re interested in my cleaning template, you can download it below.