Hi everyone, I was trying to search for threads about maintenance and can't seem to get the hang of the search button. I think I'm getting all posts that have the word maintenance in them.
I'm looking for some info on maintenance from those of you who have gotten to the promised land! Lists, links, routines...how do you actually do maintenance? How many hours a week does it take? When do you know you're there? I think I'm halfway there - a few years back, I did a big purge and was almost there, but didn't really know what to do to make it stick!
I'm pretty much in maintenance, which I define as being able to walk around easily, and use every room for its intended purpose, in a clean and sweet smelling house. That's not to say that there aren't cluttered areas in my house, because there are! I'm working on decluttering my bookshelves and wardrobe this week, in fact. But for what it's worth, here's my routine/weekly list (in addition to cleaning up after cooking and things like that). I aim to spend as little time as possible cleaning, about half an hour to an hour a day maximum.
Monday: Kitchen! (I load the dishwasher, including the dog's bowls. I load, run and unload the dishwasher every day, but Monday is the day things like the teapot and the trays get washed as well. I wipe down the kitchen counters, cooker top, and table. I hoover the kitchen floor and then mop it.)
Tuesday: Hoovering the downstairs! (I hoover the living room, hallway, study, and den.)
Wednesday: Bathrooms! (I clean the shower room, bathroom and ensuite. In each one, I spray the mirror with cleaner and wipe off. I spray the sink, shower, bath and toilet with cleaner and wipe them down, using kitchen paper for the toilet. I squirt bleach around the toilet rim and into the overflow and plughole. Then I hoover and mop the floor.)
Thursday: The rest of the hoovering! I hoover the bedrooms, landing, and stairs. I also empty the bins and recycling if they're full.
Friday: Dusting! And I change the sheets and towels, and do a couple of loads of laundry.
Saturday: Special ops! I spend an hour either decluttering a cupboard or deep cleaning a room, which to me includes stuff like dusting the ceiling and the lampshades, changing the sofa covers, cleaning out the fridge - things that don't get done every week. If I'm tired or busy, this is the cleaning I skip entirely.
Hi Tangerine, I struggled for a long time to stay in maintenance and tried different things but lists and cleaning regulary has worked the best for me.
At first I made a master list by going around each room and listed what I would need to do to give it a good enough clean and then added a dailies list and an extras list for weekly/monthly things like library books, bills, paperwork, meal plans etc. I used that for quite a while, but do it automatically now. Added to that I try to do one or two extra deeper cleaning or decluttering jobs a week. I don't plan these as it puts me off so just do what takes my fancy.
I'm quite slow cleaning, but if I don't get distracted it's probably about 20 mins a room to hoover, tidy and clean, some rooms are quicker, but my kitchen takes bit longer. I'm working so tend to do as much as I can on my mid week day off and then the weekend is just what's left over.
Thanks for the link sidestep, looking forward to reading the thread tomorrow.
I'm far from being in maintenance, but there is one room in my house (my daughter's room) that is "in maintenance" (for less than 2 weeks though!). She's the one doing the maintenance, with guidance from me. I did a humungous cleaning/de-cluttering for her, and I want to make sure it stays clean and well-organized! What I've been doing with her is giving her some regular routines (ex: making the bed when she wakes up). But then there are things that I notice when I look at the room every day that aren't working well.
I can't remember where I heard/read this before -- I think maybe in the book "Organizing from the Inside Out" -- but it's important to look around and see what's working well, and what's not working. In my daughter's room, for example, we saw that there were a few things that were working well -- she had a garbage bin in her room and was putting all the garbage in it. She was making her bed in the mornings. And so on.
But the things that aren't working well, for example: when she finished reading a book, she didn't know where to put it. That sounds like a tiny thing, but I KNOW that all those "tiny" things add up, so one day it'll be a book out of place on her desk, and within a week or a month it'll be a much bigger problem. Same with clothes -- if she tried something on and it was too small, she didn't know what to do with it. She also likes art, crafts, drawing, writing, etc. and sometimes has a few projects on the go at once. And she brings home lots of schoolwork that was piling up.
So we saw what was working well for her and kept those things/systems in place, and for what wasn't working well, we figured out WHY they weren't working well, and worked out what to do about them. Our new systems may not work either, though -- but then we'll just have to tweak them again.
I think that's a key to maintenance -- once you work out some basic routines, make sure you keep an eye on what's working for you and what's not. For example, when my house was in better order, I used to try keeping my jewellery, watch, etc. in my bedroom. But things always ended up elsewhere! And often, it was in certain places; and those were the places I'd begin looking when I couldn't find my watch (ex: bathroom counter, kitchen counter). So, I decided to put a little glass container in those places, and that's where I put my watch. And since it was natural tendency to put it there, it almost always ended up in the right place! Also, with laundry -- since the washer/dryer are in the basement, whenever I see dirty clothes, I always end up throwing them onto the landing (where the stairs turn) between the main floor and the basement. So, I realized that's where I should have a laundry hamper!
I understand that at some point people feel as if they are "in maintenance" and I know that I'm not there yet; but one thing I have learned here is that you have to maintain any progress you make! So for example, most of the house may be a mess, but if you get ALL the dishes done, if it's not a routine already, keep doing the dishes every day -- don't let them pile up again. You could be "in maintenance" of a room or even a part of a room (ex: dishes).
"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing is the wrong thing; and the worst thing you can do is nothing". -- Theodore Roosevelt
"The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run." -- Henry David Thoreau
I guess it's been a long time since we had an ongoing thread about maintenance. We have had them, but as you have discovered the search capabilities here are somewhat limited and cumbersome. It doesn't like to search very far in the past and it doesn't like to produce large numbers of results.
But, you know, it's okay to start a new thread and ask people to share their experience with maintenance. New and fresh ideas as well as some of the old tried and true methods can be shared and we all benefit. PLEASE, feel free to start a thread asking for input, and you're bound to get lots of responses about what many others do for maintenance.
Sorry I couldn't get back to this thread until today...H decided we needed to get out of the house for the weekend. (I'm not complaining though!)
Immaculata...Thanks so much for posting your routine. I think there's something about seeing it in black and white that makes it more do-able. I really really like the idea of a "Special Ops" day.
Sidestep and Eagle ...Thanks for the links! That's exactly the kind of stuff I'm looking for.
Womble...thanks for sharing your method...it will help me get started.
Messyme...I saw the pics of your daughter's bedroom...it's absolutely lovely! Thanks for the advice...I thought I was in maintenance awhile ago, but realized I was probably just fooling myself, because every time I opened a closet or cupboard, things would come falling out!
This seems as good a place as any to START an ongoing maintenance thread. What do you do DAILY to protect your investment in cleaning. You can be protecting a 12X12 inch square or you can be maintaining a home. Most of us are maintaining SOMETHING.
This morning I got up and got all the kids to help make the beds. I got everyone fed. Got the dishwasher unloaded and reloaded, vacuumed the living room carpet, and I mopped the hard floors to remove Lake Urine and Puppy Puddles. I gathered up all laundry that was scattered. Most had made it to the hampers where it belonged but there were a few here and there items. I straightened the sofas and folded the throws.
I have set minor goals towards purging that I may or may not be able to meet, but I need to have the challenge out there.
I am about to feed kids lunch and then take them out for the afternoon for fun things.
I think that due to the curves that life throws at us we either get more or less done, but we just have to keep doing SOMETHING and keep reminding resident kids to do SOMETHING. -- put the game they were playing in the game closet, put their dishes in the sink, wipe up any of their spills, make their own beds, etc. No one person can do EVERYTHING. It's vital that everyone helps a bit. I know that I have it lucky in that someone comes in once every week or two to do the heavy cleaning: windows, vacuuming the sofa decks, vacuuming all carpets, scrubbing the bathrooms and dusting the ceiling fans. Just the heavy stuff that I can't physically do. General maintenance is my job, but I can get others to help a bit. It's amazing how helpful kids can be when they realize that they have responsibilities that they have to fulfill BEFORE we go out to have fun.
Maintenance does not come easy for me. It's not the way I am wired. I tend to overlook messes until they can't be ignored any longer and I am no longer in a place where I can live that way. It's a challenge to retrain myself to notice the minor things and deal with them before they become a problem. P.I.L.E. is much smaller but it still exists. I need to learn to totally clear the table on a daily basis but it's HARD to do so. I need to sweep daily and swipe bathrooms daily but it's hard to force myself to clean something that doesn't look dirty. I also struggle with keeping counters clear. I "forget" to put spices and other items away. It doesn't look bad, but it's the beginning of what could quickly become a problem.
I think that many of us live in messes because we don't understand "maintenance". How have the rest of you trained yourself to CLEAN when something isn't visibly DIRTY?
For me maintenance is easiest when I keep up with basic regular routines, just little things. For example, I used to hate cleaning the fridge, but I read here or on the FlyLady forum a post by someone who cleaned a shelf here and there, wiped up spills and threw away old stuff, as she got things out or put things in.
Today I had to clean the fridge as I am going on holiday. I wasn't looking forward to it as I knew I hadn't really been keeping up with it. It took about five minutes! I was amazed. I have been automatically cleaning my fridge without realising it. It looked brand new. Also, I have been trying to reduce waste and only buy what I am going to use, or use what I have before buying more, and that stops things accumulating in the fridge.
Another tip from Flylady is that each room has it's own 'hot spot or spots' and if I can keep these clear and clean things never get out of hand and the room looks clean enough all the time. Particular hot spots for me are the dining room, kitchen, and bedside tables and if I see a couple of things taking up residence I know it's time to take action before it gets out of hand.
The kitchen hotspots are the window sills, hob, sink and the area by the rubbish bins.
Another thing was realising I could just do one or two little things, I didn't have to clean a whole room. Same theory as the 'hot spots' really.
Mainly I finally realised that I needed to clean things, especially bathroom and kitchen things, at regular intervals whether they looked dirty or not. Before I would do these big cleaning sessions and then wait till it looked dirty feeling that I never wanted to clean another thing in my life.
I keep on top of the bathrooms and the dishes (we don't have a dishwasher). I try to make sure all the washing up is done before I go to bed. It doesn't always happen but mostly it's done. I leave it to dry in the drainer and put it away in the morning while I am waiting for my kettle to boil.
Someone here (I think it was BDG) posted about her method of doing things in small amounts of waiting or moving time. Going from room to room, waiting for things in the microwave and so on and I have found that really useful.
I have a card index system (I need to review this when I get back) and I make a note of when I do things so I can see how long it is and if I need to do it again.
I declutter as I go along. If I see something I can let go then it goes. I still give myself amnesty, I don't let things accumulate. If I get a new thing I try to get rid of something. So if I am going to a drawer or cupboard for something and spot something that can go then it goes right away.
I have trash cans in every room. I've always done this, it is a huge help, especially with children in the house. I used to have large ones but then I realised that I was just accumulating large piles of rubbish in the rooms, it was just neatly corralled. So I got rid of them and got small ones.
I aim to empty all the bins once a week even if they are not full.
It helps to have the right equipment. I used to have a large swing top kitchen bin. It was indestructible and the top was always filthy and horrible to clean. You needed at least three hands to operate it. Finally I got a smaller foot pedal bin. Fabulous. I still smile every time I use it. Why I didn't do that before I have no idea. Because the old one wasn't broken I think. Now I try not to get trapped in this sort of thinking.
I am a messy cook and have problems keeping the hob clean. Now I put a foil liner over it. This protects the surface and makes it easy to clean. I just whiz the foil off and put more down.
Basically I have formed new habits. Sometimes I lapse but it never gets back to where it was and gets easier all the time.
It is much, much easier once you are decluttered and desqualored.
I wouldn't say I am 'there'. It is a never ending process, but it does get easier. As for how long it takes. I have no idea! I try to cover the basics once a week and have a plan for the rest. Sometimes I feel able to devote several hours to a project. Some days it's all I can do to do the dishes.
If I feel comfortable for anyone to come into my house then I'm OK. But I'll never pass any 'white glove' test. And it's never going to look like a show house. I wouldn't want to live in a show house anyway.
Mail is either put in the recycling, dealt with, or taken to my desk as soon as it arrives. I have gone paperless for as many things as possible, bank statments, bills and so on. I often file what still needs filing while the computer is booting.
I must tell you about the oven racks. I used to hate doing these, I let them get bad and could never get them clean. Then I got a large, shallow, plastic tray designed for soaking things like oven racks in strong cleaning products and soaked them overnight in a strong cleaning solution - washing soda I think it is. The first time they were better but still took a lot of scrubbing and weren't really good. Today I did them for the third time (over two years later!) and they came really clean with just a wipe down after the soaking. They look almost new!
So this is now a really quick easy job. Into the tray, go to bed, wipe them down in the morning.
So, sorry about the long post, honestly it takes longer to read than to do! Hope it helps.
Another thing, or things. Sorry to double post, I was hoping people would post in between.
Something I learnt from my husband: when we come back from a holiday do all the unpacking as soon as we get back. No sitting down for a cup of tea or going through the mail. Unpack, put everything away.
It took me a while to really get this but it makes things so much easier.
I am terrible for not finishing jobs. I have learnt to force myself to finish. I remember years ago sleeping for some weeks in a sleeping bag because I couldn’t get the newly laundered sheets onto the bed. I think they were cotton and needed ironing first and I couldn’t get round to it. I had the time, that wasn’t the issue. In the end I stopped ironing it. As long as it was on the bed that was good enough.
Now I buy easycare bedlinen and I still don’t iron it. It goes straight onto the bed or folded in the linen cupboard. Works for me.
I don’t have an ironing basket anymore. I had a bad experience with moths and I never wore the clothes in the basket because I couldn’t get round to ironing them. I had no idea what was in there. So now if I don’t iron them as soon as they are dry I hang them up or put them in a drawer and iron as I need to. So don’t have a heap of clothes lying about anywhere. I have one basket for dirty laundry.
Hanging stuff up to dry or putting it in the dryer as soon as the washing cycle is finished and taking it out of the dryer as soon as it finishes really helps make the ironing easier. Often you don't have to iron at all.
'Motivation follows action' is something I learnt here. I procrastinate a lot and used to think I had to 'feel' like doing something. Now I try to force myself to do what needs doing regardless.
I do like my slogans which often come to mind when I am falling into old ways. Some are:
'Do the gotta dos before the wanna dos' and 'do it now or do more later'.
'Progress not perfection'
It all sounds like a lot of work. But strangely I have more free time and the best thing is the freedom from guilt and constantly thinking about housework and how I ought to be doing it and how fed up I am about the state of the house. My house makes me smile now, just like FlyLady says.
It all sounds like a lot of work. But strangely I have more free time and the best thing is the freedom from guilt and constantly thinking about housework and how I ought to be doing it and how fed up I am about the state of the house.