For the majority of the time I lived at home, my Mama didn’t work (outside the house). Even now, she runs the house, volunteers, is active at church, and has a great social life. As busy as she is, her house is always immaculate. You can tell people live there (the couches aren’t covered in plastic), but I’m always amazed at how she keeps up with the chores. Though I’m still learning (and its tough with a 7 month old underfoot), here are the top 5 lessons my Mama taught me about keeping house.
1. Set a timer: Its often tough to get going when you’re faced with 40 minutes of “free” time. We all want to crash on the couch and watch some TV, but that’s not reality. Choose one task that you need to do, and set the kitchen timer for 10 minutes. Wash dishes, fold laundry, or iron clothes for those 10 minutes. You’ll be amazed at how much you get done in a short space of time, and the feeling of accomplishment often gives you the boost you need to keep going.
2. Clean as you go: Staring down a sink-full of dishes or a gunky bathroom fills me with dread. I know it will take ages to finish, and I often leave things longer than I should. Mama’s solution? Clean as you go. Every time you brush your teeth, wipe down the sink, tap and counters. Use a coffee mug in the morning? Put it in the dishwasher or wash it and put it away. A twenty-second investment now saves you a twenty-minute chore later
3. Do what you like: Its hard to know where to start when you’re faced with a 40-minute naptime and an 80-point to-do list. But everybody has that one task that makes them feel accomplished; for Mama, its vacuuming or steam-cleaning. Start with the most enjoyable task; you’ll feel like you got something done, and it won’t drain all of your energy off the bat. (If you hate cleaning…choose the *least* hated chore. For me, that’d be folding laundry)
4. Clean & tidy are two different things: You need to decide what level of ‘clean’ you’re comfortable with in your home. For Mama, her house is always clean AND tidy. For me, if I can manage clean, I’m happy. The difference? Clean means healthy; germ-free, no smelly garbage or gunky dishes lying around, a swept kitchen floor. Tidy means visibly orderly. No papers on the counter top, toys put away in bins. Choose which you’re content with; if you can handle a pile of folded laundry on the stairs, don’t stress about it. If clutter drives you crazy, figure out how to simplify. To each her own.
5. Take time to rest: Mama does all of this while dealing with chronic, debilitating pain & fatigue. So she knows the value of a rest. As a new mom, I’m also grateful for time in the day to sit down. Whether you set a timer for a 20-minute lay-down during naptime, or you allow yourself a second cup of coffee during Ellen, take a bit of time for you. You’ll feel more accomplished, better rested, and generally happier during the day.
What valuable lessons have you learned from your mama?