I was at the Jimmy Buffett concert with a few friends the other night and having a great time so that inspired the name of this post although it’s content has nothing to do with the concert or the song per se. I’m talking about something I’ve implemented here in the Messy household that seems to be helping. I’m hoping it’ll stick and it has to do with 5:00pm.
I’ve been lamenting my inability to create any sort of cleaning routine in the new house. I attempt to do a little after the Munchkin goes to bed, mostly picking up all the trip hazards the little tornado has left behind, but usually I’m too tired and too happy to get some peace and quiet to do much else. I’d much rather veg on the couch watching TV or reading than doing the adult thing of cleaning the house, and in all honesty, who could blame me?
But sitting on the couch not doing a little bit of cleaning for nights on end results in fur floating through the house. Hardwood floors are beautiful until you realize that you can’t disguise the dirt and hair as “speckled” carpet anymore. We don’t have dust bunnies, we have fur tumbleweeds, and my ignoring them doesn’t make them go away…they just get bigger! I have added The Fly Lady’s missions calendar in my Google calendar. You can also have it sync with Cozi if you’re using that app as well (Disclaimer: I left Cozi for a few different reasons but it’s still an amazingly useful app and I would still recommend it). I also have CleanMama’s weekly cleaning routine printable (sidenote: she’s got a lot of great free printables and then some even more amazing ones for a nominal fee) hanging up in our current (unfinished) command center. I’ve known for a very long time that I want to clean a little each day to keep the mess under control as opposed to letting it go and getting annoyed by it until I’m (we’re) spending all day cleaning. Until recently I had yet to be able to find a way to make that a habit but I’ve been trying out something and so far it seems to be working.
It came to me one day where we had approximately 30 minutes until we had to leave the house and the Mr., the Munchkin and I were just kind of standing around wondering what to do with ourselves. It was one of those DUH moments where we probably would have spent it doing something that may have been fun, may have been mindless (ahem scrolling through social media), but definitely wouldn’t have been productive. Now, I’m not saying you have to be productive all the time (Exhibit A) but I see a lot of people complaining that they should do/be more but they “don’t have the time”. I am not innocent in this, I often think to myself all the wonderful things I would be doing if I “just had the time” but then I can sit and watch 3 episodes of “Gilmore Girls” before going to bed and realize all that time was just used. I’m not going to say binge watching, scrolling through social media or relaxing in some other way is “wasted” time because it is incredibly important to relax in whatever way you see fit. However as a home-owning adult there are things that I need to do and sometimes getting those done first makes my relaxing time all that much better because the things that need to get done aren’t hanging like the Sword of Damocles.
But I digress, so there we were, a family with 30 minutes to spare. What were we to do? I ended up dishing out tasks. I took the Fly Lady mission for the day (which are generally short…her philosophy is 15 minutes), the Mr. started cleaning the bathrooms (the CleanMama task for the day) and the Munchkin got some baby wipes and started “helping” in the best way she knows how. In those 30 minutes we were able to give the bathrooms a respectable clean (at least enough to keep the health inspector away) and complete the Fly Lady mission (which is usually something I wouldn’t think of doing but as an aforementioned home-owning adult probably should be done).
After this I started setting an alarm for 5:00pm to go off named “Clean the House” and when the alarm goes off, the three of us spend 15-30 minutes just picking up around the house, doing the CleanMama task or the FlyLady mission (usually all 3!!) and then can resume whatever we were doing when the alarm went off. Five o’clock is a good time for us because the Mr. is usually home and showered from work but it’s before we really settle into dinner plans so unless we’re out of the house nothing too pressing is usually happening then. With all three of us, we make quick work of anything we’re doing. It does not necessarily happen 100% of the time but for the majority of nights when we’re in the house we have been able to stick to it making a big dent in the messiness.
As a wife, mom, woman, adult, person, etc… I always feel like my brain is going a mile a minute and I have a gazillion internet tabs open in my head trying to keep track of everything. This results in me struggling with being truly present around the Mr. and the Munchkin some days because I’m concerned about everything else going on or cataloging everything that needs to be dealt with; this habit has allowed me to make cleaning up around the house part of (almost) daily life without making it miserable and by giving the reminder over to my phone in the form of an alarm I don’t have to think about when the house is going to get cleaned.
An added bonus to this is that we do it as a family; the Munchkin sees her father and I working as a team to take care of the drudgery and she gets to help. She can collect shoes, use baby wipes or the swiffer(r) to dust/sweep up, or pick up her toys. I think it’s important for her to realize that this is part of every day life and she has a responsibility to help without it being oppressive or obnoxious. It also gives the Mr. a focus with the day-to-day tasks. While he is great looking at the big picture, construction type stuff in the house he is crap at recognizing the little stuff that needs to get done every day so we’re not living in a mess.
I think it’s important for everyone to be a caretaker of their environment; we live here, we all make the mess and we should all be responsible for cleaning it up. I am not Mrs. Hannigan and it doesn’t have to “shine like the top of the Chrysler building” (showing my age, here??) but there is a healthy balance between clean and dirty. I want to strike that balance with my family so when there is some relaxing or play time I am truly there to relax or play and not worried about ticking things off my to do list.