One Day to Clean a Dirty House

Can you believe it only takes ONE DAY to clean a dirty house – top to bottom – one day.  I promise, because I did it, and you can too!  Come mid-week, you’ll be searching for things to clean, like lint in the laundry room!

Your guests are arriving in two hours, and your house is not-so-tidy. Your adrenaline kicks in and, whoa mama, did you really just “clean” your whole house?! Seriously. That overwhelming mess was no match for your determination, right? That’s me too! I am what you would call a “procrastinating perfectionist.” If I can’t do it ALL, do it WELL, and do it COMPLETELY, then, I CAN’T DO IT. So, whatever I am intimidated by or feel that I don’t have enough time to accomplish…I put off. And that is almost always the housework.

Trouble is – I have this motto. It’s this nagging motto, that I actually want to live by, but can’t seem to consistently, because of my little character flaw mentioned above.

A Clean Home is a Calm Home.

And I believe it 100%. Or at least, I feel like it’s calmer. Maybe because I am calmer, and there’s a trickle down effect happening with the children, and my hubby catches it…it’s glorious. Calmness is glorious.

But what happened?! How did I end up here, in utter desperation?

Well…  We held our daughter’s birthday party here at our house in early May. Like every other time we have company coming, my hubby and I busted our tail-feathers the night before and morning of to get the house in respectable order. Mail piles were stashed, not dealt with, laundry stacks were straightened, not put away, surfaces were cleared and dusted, and the floors were tended to, BUT…the house was not clean and the calm that came after the exhausting hustle would be gone within the first hour of the following day.

That’s what kiddos do, right? Destroy a”tidy” house in just minutes.

The laundry is put off a little longer; the vicious cycle continues.

Forget getting down to the nitty-gritty levels of clean, because you’re just looking to maintain a little sanity and have your home not resemble a warzone come 9PM nightly.

I try following cleaning schedules like Clean Mama’s (she’s my favorite by the way), but on vacuuming day, I was like, “But I would have to CLEAN the mess off of the floors to vacuum…” Wahhh!  I would end up frustrated and overwhelmed. It affected me, my kids, my husband. I couldn’t keep my head above water.

I even had the kids sit down and watch an episode of Hoarders with me during our usual Sesame Street time-slot in hopes it would give them a proverbial kick in the rear. It didn’t. Three and five year olds apparently don’t care if Miss Mess lives in squalor. They can’t see how it relates to toys constantly underfoot.  Then, the straw came that broke the camel’s back in form of a bug…a carpet beetle.  Ewwww!

I loathe bugs. I keep watch for them. They don’t stand a chance in this house. I had seen a little beetle like this before. I googled him, after I flushed him good-bye of course, and I read that they are common in homes and show up in the springtime. And what do they eat? Organic matter. Ick. I didn’t want any parts of it. So, how do you keep them at bay? Vacuuming. Yes. The chore I most often neglected, because I could never get down to the bare bones of cleaning before bedtime, and no one would dare touch the vacuum while the three blondies were snoozing.

That’s when it hit me. The idea that I could clean, really clean my entire home in just ONE day. It works, friends. My husband has asked me what I have been doing differently to keep our home clean. It’s that clean, folks. It looks clean, it feels clean, it even smells clean. I love it!

When I shared my process (that works perfectly for this adrenaline-loving, procrastinating perfectionist), he said, “You know what you did, right?” Me, I responded with a blank stare… “You created a project plan.” And then he joked that I needed a GANTT chart, and I had no clue as to what that is, but I took it as a compliment, because, seeing that he’s a Director of PM, it must have meant I was doing something right.

All it took was a list, an estimation of my time, and a challenge – a challenge to beat that list and the estimations.  The desire to beat the times that I had listed is what gave me that rush of adrenaline I needed.  That same feeling of, “Come on; let’s do this!” that you get twenty minutes before the doorbell is due to ring.  And you know what? It worked. Every time I tested it. As you’ll see in the attached video, this was my process:

  • Grab a sheet of paper
  • List each room in your home
  • List each task to complete in each room in order to consider it “clean”
  • Attach an estimated timeframe to each task
  • Mark you starting and finishing times as you go
  • Enjoy your clean home!

A few tips:

1 – Notice, I don’t always get to finish a room in one fell swoop, so if I spend one hour in a space or ten minutes, I mark my list accordingly.  It may take three or six “visits” to that particular room, but it will eventually be completed.  I want to stay true to my chart and make sure my times are accurate, so I stay on task for those minutes or hours and focus on the space that I am in.

2 – Clean the rooms/things that make sense.  Don’t try to clean bathrooms while your kids are in the kitchen eating lunch.  You know that they are going to need you anyway.  Why make yourself extra crazy?  Allocate meal prep time and eating times to coincide with doing the dishes, wiping down the appliances, cleaning out the refrigerator, clearing a mail pile…  I chose to clean the playroom in the morning while the kids were in there playing.  I told them each to grab one thing, I put in Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast on their mini tv, and I went to work knowing that they were going to be entertained.  Because I was in the room with them, they were on-task, playing nicely, and we were able to have conversation easily while I worked.  I was able to clean everything with the exception of my fabric stash.  I wasn’t too concerned with that, and it wasn’t a goal on my list anyway.  I tended to it later, after they were in bed.



3 – Consider doing this on a Monday (if you stay at home).  Mondays kind of stink for me anyway, and so I’d rather devote one day to hard work, so the kids and I can enjoy the rest of the week.  Knocking this out in one day also allows you the opportunity to do the nitty-gritty stuff over the course of the rest of the week.  For example, I was walking around yesterday morning actually looking for things to clean.  I cleaned the stair banister (which honestly hadn’t been really cleaned since we moved in almost TWO YEARS AGO!)  It was gross.  That’s a perfect example of something that looks clean, but really isn’t.  Those things are often overlooked and neglected because we are trying to stay on top of the obvious areas.  Today, I plan on tackling the shoes piled next to the front door.  I don’t recommend stretching this out over more than 2 or 3 days, though, and here’s why:  KIDS.  Small children will destroy those spaces you’ve conquered faster than you can blink.  My girls knew that “today, Mom means business,” and they kept themselves a little more in-check.  When I’ve tried to clean at a prolonged pace, it has backfired every time.  My estimations told me that I could have a clean house from top to bottom in 7 hours, and by golly, that’s exactly what I needed.

4 – Follow a schedule throughout the rest of the week that involves LIGHT cleaning.  Like I said, I love Clean Mama’s.  I now have a routine of Five Habits that Kickstart a Good Day (post coming soon), and plan on devoting just 10 minutes of every hour to tidying up.  That’s what I call, 10 Minutes to Better.  

I am proof that this method is effective.  It’s great exercise too! Lol!  Think about it…it’s honestly like going to work for ONE day a week!  I know our job as mama is the toughest, most-involved and time-consuming job in existence, but you can do this!  

I used to buy into the, “The kids come first, forsaking all housework” stuff, but let’s be real here.  When your house stinks, your day kind of does too.  You feel overwhelmed.  You feel defeated.  You even feel like a failure.  

You’re not!  You’re not any of those.  Take it from me.  I considered selling things off to afford a cleaning service, because I felt so out-of-control.  

I thought I needed outside help with four small kids, but I did this, and we’re on top of it now.  I like my home now!  Even with the unfinished-project to-list staring at me, I.Love.My.Home.  You can love yours too!  And in just one 7-hour workday, I was given back the chance to enjoy what really matters…

 photo 1b022a50-35d1-4d8c-b805-559814920dc3_zps6jpicxgu.jpg

Comments

  1. says

    You did a great job! I feel like I'm always running around like a chicken with my head cut off right before people arrive. This will be a huge help next time. Thanks 🙂

    (stopping by from I Heart Organizing)

  2. Mae says

    I have never been a great house keeper, I absolutely hate cleaning! I will start on one area and get distracted by another but your idea of setting a time limit and trying to beat it might be just what I needed!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *