Creating Your Own Homemaking Routines

Another blog post about homemaking schedules is probably the last thing the world needs. But I love this topic so I am going to write about it.

I have had two approaches to homemaking schedules over the years: not having one, and doing things as needed, and having one, obsessing over it, and letting it rule my life.

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When I first started out as a homemaker (or stay at mom, as it is more commonly called around here), my priority was to “my kids”. I think I imagined them reading at two, being champion soccer players, and generally making me look good everywhere we went. Never mind that I had one baby who slept all the time and was too young to fulfill any of my goals. The housekeeping part was an afterthought. I reacted to what needed to be done: laundry and cleaning as needed. I never organized, decluttered or planned ahead. I at least got dinner made, but I was still learning the tastes of my husband and spent a lot of time making complicated things no one really wanted. (Stupid craft projects, fancy desserts from scratch, sewing projects that were terrible and had to be thrown out.) I went shopping a lot too, even though we had very little extra money. I just wasn’t sure exactly what I should be doing.

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(Our old house.  Probably very messy under the couch.)

Five years, more kids, and different houses later. I read a book that finally convinced me a homemaking routine would be worth it. I liked the vintagey nature of it and it just appealed to my controlling nature. I had a newborn in the house and still hadn’t healed from delivery. But I decided to embark on a deep clean and organization of the house. So I downloaded some weekly printables and set myself on the schedule. Laundry day was Monday, so I would wait until Monday to do all the laundry and turn it into a big production. Cleaning day was Friday so I would vacuum and dust the whole house. I would add on a deep cleaning project like windows. If all the laundry didn’t get done on Monday, I would get panicky. I developed a weird habit of grinding my teeth because I was so worked up over the whole thing. It was very silly. To be fair, the book really emphasized being flexible with yourself, adjusting the schedule, and not letting it rule your life. I just didn’t listen.

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It was just recently that I was contemplating abandoning the whole thing. I still liked many aspects of it, though. My house was clean and company ready. But it was ruling me, not helping me. I started making tweaks: deep cleaning the kitchen a bit every day instead of once a week. I did laundry all throughout the week. I used laundry day as a day to do as many loads as I could and clean the laundry room. Instead of deep cleaning and weekly cleaning on cleaning day, I kept the house clean all week, did a deep cleaning chore 3-5 times a week, and on cleaning day went over the whole house with a vacuum and damp cloth. I found I just prefer to do things bit by bit. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still follow the schedule…. I just use it to get ahead, instead of catching up.

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Here is what I do:

Every day, I keep the house clean and picked up, dust and vacuum as needed, do a load of laundry as I can, add things to the grocery list, etc. These are things that don’t need to be put on a list. Just everyday housework.

Every day I also do one thing to deep clean the kitchen, one thing to clean each of our frequently used bathrooms, and one deep cleaning or organizing project. (Each of these things takes about 10 minutes.)

And then I do my weekly tasks, things on the homemaking schedule that I do to get ahead.

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Monday. Laundry Day.  All the laundry I can do, combining loads if necessary to get the baskets empty. This way if I have a busy week ahead and can’t get laundry done, I am not behind. I also clean the laundry room. It is also our mudroom, but it doesn’t take long. But every other day of the week I am doing laundry if I have time and tidying up the mudroom bit by bit. I am not intentionally leaving it for Monday.

Tuesday. Baking Day. Preparing things ahead of time to stock in the fridge or freezer. Sandwich rolls almost every week, as they are a staple. Cookie dough to freeze, salad dressing, meatballs to freeze, occasionally chili or a lasagna. In hot weather I will marinate a few things to grill later in the week, make ice cream or popsicles, or can something. We usually have pizza on Thursdays, so I get the dough made and put it in the fridge. Getting ahead.

Wednesday: Project Day. I spend an hour sewing or doing some other project. It doesn’t sound like much…but an hour per week adds up over a few years. If there is painting or decorating I want to get done, like hanging pictures or something, I will do it on this day. If we have a party coming up that needs decorations, I work on them. If there are gifts that need to be wrapped for that weekend or letters written, I get it done. This is a physically easy day, so I usually spend a little extra time in the garden, and I have to wheel down the trash cans.

Thursday: Errand day. Now that I am no longer driving into town for preschool, it makes sense to combine errands. I do the grocery store and library every week, and sometimes the bank or post office. I try to stock up as much as makes sense. That way, if for some reason I can’t get to the store the world will not end. But this is the least flexible of the days.

Friday: Cleaning day. Hopefully the house is pretty clean every day. But on Fridays I vacuum and dust everywhere, including bedrooms, steps, halls, etc. It doesn’t take long. Sometimes I move furniture and all that, but mostly not.

Saturday: Planning Day. I make a meal plan for the next week and write down any important dates for that week, like appointments, visits, etc. I also straighten the bookshelves.

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And here is the important part:

Some days I don’t do any of the weekly tasks. Someone is sick, or we are visiting friends, or the weather is terrible and we want to to go the craft store, or the weather is beautiful and we want to be outside all day. Or a shipment of berry bushes has arrived and we need to plant them, or an out of town guest is here. Or maybe we just don’t feel like it.

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When this happens, there is no need to cry, or lose sleep. That was the point of all it…to get ahead of the housekeeping. Now when life happens nothing goes awry. I just get right back into it next week, and eat one of those meals tucked away in the freezer. No catching up later in the week allowed. Cleaning day will come along again.  As long as days off are the exception rather than the rule, things flow just fine.

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I can promise you, from experience, that doing the overworked martyr act will get you no sympathy and is not attractive.  So I hope you are able to find a system that works for you…without grinding your teeth.

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It will take a lot of tweaking to find your routine, and it will change a lot. But it definitely helps you feel on top things, and allows you to take breaks without sliding into disaster.

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