We scroll through Instagram or Pinterest, admiring the white kitchens, minimal living rooms, and tasteful decor displayed by bloggers and influencers. Maybe we save a few of those photos. Someday, we’d like our home to look like that.
Then we stand up, stretch, and look around at our own homes.
Forget about decor. A new mantel arrangement will do nothing about the cobwebs in the corner and the crumbs on the couch. New couches don’t repel crumbs. New kitchen backsplashes don’t make dinner, and they don’t make cooking a neat and tidy affair.
Close your eyes as you walk past the kids’ bathroom. Let’s not even go there. Nope. Avoid their bedrooms also. Oops. What about your bedroom? A new bedspread would be nice; perhaps a few new throw pillows would add some visual appeal. However, would it really make a difference when you can’t remember vacuuming or washing the sheets?
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The transformation our homes need is not about choosing a color scheme or adding a wreath or flower arrangement or rug. What will bring about the biggest, best, most important change in our home’s visual appeal is cleaning routines that work.
The trouble with cleaning routines
The trouble with cleaning routines is that they don’t work all by themselves. Having figured them out, having written them out, is inadequate. We – the homemakers – have to actually do them (or at least supervise that they are done). On top of that, we have to do those routines daily and weekly – every day and week – if our planned cleaning routine is to work.
Cleaning the house isn’t a once-and-done project. It’s something we do on an ongoing basis, never stopping as long as life is lived within our walls.
Does that fact haunt you? Does it depress you?
It ought not. It doesn’t have to. It’s not inherently discouraging.
After all, messes made are evidence of life lived. So if our goal is about facilitating a flourishing life for ourselves, our children, our husbands, and anyone else who comes into our homes, then the cleaning is just one step of a beautiful goal. The goal isn’t to have a house that keeps itself clean. The goal isn’t to have a pristine showpiece of a house that’s ready at a moment’s notice for a photo-shoot.
Instead, our goal is to have home that functions as a stage for life. We’re the set managers, keeping everything running. Other people aren’t messing with our progress. The people are our focus, not the stage or the props.
With this mindset shift, we can tackle cleaning routines with a renewed vision, energy, and clarity. We can even juggle homeschooling and cleaning house.
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Housecleaning progress is possible
Although you might currently feel overwhelmed by the amount of work required to clean your house, progress is possible. A reasonably clean, functional, tidy-ish house can be maintained on about an hour a day – even for homeschooling families. Your kids will need to pitch in for at least 15 minutes (15 minutes twice a day is even better).
Once you understand the tasks that get you 80% of the visual and functional payoff for 20% of the effort, you can stop browsing internet cleaning schedules that think your blinds need to be dusted weekly and just do the actual work your own home and family needs to keep a busy, flourishing life possible.
It might take you a few weeks – six weeks, even – to get to that point, but with a steady program and guide, you can develop your own personalized routine that allows you to be a true manager of your home, not a grunt worker at the beck and call of any dust particle that decides to float by.
But the real difference in your home will come not when you have the routines in hand, but when you complete those routines with a smile instead of a scowl.
Where a beautiful home really comes from
We think the atmosphere and beauty of our home happens when we have hung the artwork and arranged the shelves just so, or when we’ve scrubbed down every surface so it shines. However, we ourselves as wives, mothers, homemakers, are the heart of our home. When we smile, our homes gleam – even when there are crumbs on the floor.
So even as we tackle cleaning routines, we need to do so with a smile. After all, we are doing the work to bless our families, not torture them or make them hostage to our aesthetic ideals. We can do that when we know and accomplish our own minimum viable home routines, and when we recognize that the clean house is only a prop, not the point.
Want a cleaner house and a better attitude about cleaning? Join Mystie at Simply Convivial for Sweep & Smile, starting February 23. This six-week coaching class will help you get a handle on your own home routines and practice them with a smile rather than a frown.
If your husband doesn’t notice a difference in the state of you and your home at the end of the six-week class, we’ll gladly refund your money. Sweep & Smile has helped hundreds of women clean their homes and keep them reasonably clean – while staying cheerful in the process.
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