Remember when you were broke and you lived with 5 other people in a run down group house and squabbled over whose turn it was to clean the bathroom? You had a little wheel that was tacked up onto a cork board in the kitchen, alongside take out menus and posters for the latest save-the-world fundraiser you planned to attend.
Unfortunately, until you get a cleaning person, the problem of daily and weekly chores may follow you well beyond your group house days. James and I are 7 months into living in our house and nearly 10 months into parenthood and we still can’t figure how on earth to manage our lives.
About a month after my return to work, we got the bottle prep routine somewhat down, which means we normally get our dishes washed in a timely way. However, I feel like I’m standing in front of that dishwasher half of the time I’m home, whether its loading or unloading the dishes. Plus, at any given time, there seem to be stray toys, dog fur, mail items, and mason jars strewn around the house, not to mention a rack of diapers drying, a bag of pump parts to be shuttled to and from work, and towels, bibs, and burp rags hanging from anything loosely resembling a hook. Getting everything back into its home by the end of each day always proves to be problematic. We didn’t want to resort to schedules but each and every Sunday night, we ask ourselves where the weekend went and why we are still trying to get the house in order.
After weeks of rationalizing that full time working parents without cleaning help all have messy houses, we decided we needed an intervention. However, when I time how long it takes to do the dishes or wipe down the bathroom sink, I’m shocked at how few minutes each task takes. As much as I want to hire a cleaning person and sit on the couch and eat bon bons while someone else cleans up after me, I’m trying to believe that with a little bit of self-imposed organization, we can actually keep the house looking decent.
Enter the chore wheel.
Ok, its a list. James would prefer it look like a wheel but I’ll work on the aesthetics of it another time. Right now, we have a house to clean! Our list is based on the one found here on The Little Green Notebook. A quick online search of chore wheels revealed at least a handful of them are made by parents of very large families and all the children pitch in, just as I did in my youth. Since Isla isn’t too great at cleaning yet, we didn’t assign her any duties on this round.
Our rendition looks like this:
- Make bed
- Wipe down bathroom counters and put away loose items
- Unload dishwasher and prep bottles
- Load dishwasher and clean and put away pots and pans
- Wipe kitchen counters
- Take out trash as needed
- Quick sweep or vacuum and spot clean floor
- Pick up living room; all stray items on kitchen table and counter put away
- Check diaper stash; wash as needed
- Chore of the day (see below)
Monday: Swing day (see below)
Tuesday: Clean mirrors and windows
Thursday: Mop floors
Friday: Toilets and tub
Saturday: Vacuum (again!)
1st: Wipe furniture and cabinets as needed and laundry (clothes)
2nd: Clean oven, microwave and fridge and laundry (sheets and towels)
3rd: Wipe down all moldings, walls, doors and laundry (clothes)
4th: Spot clean upholstery and rugs and laundry (sheets and towels)
Surely we’ll have to make some modifications if we realize we forgot chores or don’t need to do some of them so frequently. And unlike our failed zero waste adventure, I’m really committed this time. Starting last Sunday, we are giving ourselves a month to see if we can maintain a clean house before we give in and hire a cleaning person.
I don’t really like bon bons anyway.
How about you? Do you work full time and manage to keep your house clean? How do you do it? Or do you prefer to enjoy your time and hire out the help?