Help for the Home-Harried?


Since I was very young, I took to housekeeping like a cat takes to water.  (Cats can be very efficient swimmers, but they just don’t seem to enjoy it much, and avoid it whenever possible.) 

You really wouldn’t think it would be too difficult to keep up with a house. (After all, how fast can a house move?)  But somehow, this is an area where I have been soundly left in the dust over and over again.  To those of you who have been in my home, I can see you out there, either shaking your head sadly or rolling your eyes and saying, “not this again?”  You’re doing either one or the other, according to your temperament and degree of compassion. 

Yep, I’m going to talk about that again.  Sorry.  No, no, please don’t leave.  If you are the primary home-maintenance person, I just want to ask you one little question: 

Do you have routines in your housekeeping?

Like for instance, do you do certain things on certain days of the week?  Do you do a particular job at one specified time of day?  Do you plan your day?

And one more question:  If you do have routines, how did you develop them?  Did they just sort of “happen” without any conscious effort on your part, or did you have to work to make them part of your life?  If the latter, how did you accomplish that?

(Did anyone notice the double entendre in the second paragraph?  It actually wasn’t intentional!  ) 


And a side note that gives you a glimpse of my day.  While I was reading aloud to my kids during school, a fascinating book about India, one of the boys interrupted.  “Wait a minute…You know Opie on Andy Griffith?  Is that short for Opium?”  The other one was quick with an answer.  “Nah, it’s short for Opossum.” 

This may give you an idea why teaching is a full-time job for me.  Who has time for housework?



About dayuntoday

I'm a wonderer. I spend a lot of time mulling, pondering, and cogitating. This is just a place to park some of those thoughts.
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26 Responses to Help for the Home-Harried?

  1. Anonymous says:

    LOL, i’m so unorganized in this.  I have no plans at all.  I just see what needs doing, and do it.  Though we’re on septic, so we have to do laundry once a day.  We kind of plan that.

  2. Routines?? You mean I’m supposed to have a routine??? A routine happening to me without any conscience effort would be nothing short of a miracle. LOVE the opium story…sounds like your days are very similar to mine.  I have found to be a good resource.  I do NOT even comes close to keeping her routine’s but I have signed up for her e-mails…so it’s like a tweek to my conscience on a daily basis that yes indeed there is laundry to be done…and toilets to clean..and…well you get the picture.  I’m right there with you on the housekeeping…not my forte….Flyladie’s control journals are great…you can print them at her website and they definitely give you a workable routine.

  3. mrcolorful says:

    What was Opie short for?I don’t clean unless I absolutely have to and due to my extreme tolerance for messes, that “have to” is almost never inspired from within.

  4. fwren says:

    Since our kids are grown and gone, I only clean really, really well when they are coming home or when guests are expected!  The rest of the time, things stay in their places now, for the most part, and I kind of ignore the dust.  I didn’t notice your double entendre until you pointed it out, but I do notice that the second “either” in that paragraph has two “i’s”, and since you cannot stand spelling errors, I knew you would want to know!  LOL!

  5. homefire says:

    @mrcolorful – What was Opie short for?–  You know, I’ve been wondering that all afternoon.  I was sort of hoping someone would tell me!@The_Ragged_Edge – Fly Lady…I just can’t get away from her, LOL.  I was one of her early failures.  Years ago before she even started her site (we were both on a chat board together) she worked hard to make me wear shoes…  well, I still don’t.  And I tried to make a control journal once–got it about a fourth done before I lost interest.  I didn’t know she had downloadable ones–I really should check out her site again.  Haven’t been there for years.@Papillon_Mom – That’s pretty much what I do, only I am a bit like Mr Colorful–I can tolerate a whole lot, so “seeing what needs doing” is the first place I fail.  And then the remembering…I mean, how in the world do people remember that they put a load of laundry in the washer an hour ago?  It’s a mystery to me.  But thanks for mentioning that.  I did, and it’s done. 

  6. Anonymous says:

    @homefire – LOL!!  Maybe you should do what i do.  Make to-do lists.  They are a God-send!!

  7. homefire says:

    @fwren – Thank you, ma’am.  ‘Tis fixed! 

  8. homefire says:

    @Papillon_Mom – Oh, I do that sometimes.  But how do you remember to look at them?    I may be laughing, but it’s all too true, unfortunately!

  9. Anonymous says:

    @homefire – LOL!!  I’m the same way!

  10. mrcolorful says:

    @homefire – According to “Opie Taylor was named for Opie Cates, a prominent band leader of the 1930s and 1940s whom Andy Griffith and Sheldon Leonard, the show’s producer, both admired.”

  11. homefire says:

    @mrcolorful – well, shoot.  That’s doesn’t tell us a thing.  (or maybe it was short for opium?? )  Thanks for doing the research, though. 

  12. mrcolorful says:

    @homefire – According to Wikipedia, Opie Cates’ real name was Opal Cates.  So Opie isn’t short for opium.  Of course he might have been dubbed Opal and Opie because of opium, we really can’t know…

  13. P_Obrien says:

    Some houses, particularly home schooling ones can move pretty fast.

  14. homefire says:

    @mrcolorful – Opal?  For a man?  Never heard that one before!@P_Obrien –   Good point.

  15. mrcolorful says:

    @homefire – I don’t know.  He apparently was born in 1909 in rural Arkansas though…

  16. nidan says:

    Try doing it with teens coming and going every five minutes.

  17. BooksForMe says:

    LOL  Funny post.  (I missed the double entendre.)

  18. SheLuvsGod says:

    You remind me of me! I am such a neat freak. When/if I get married, my husband will be impressed with my housekeeping skills. I hope they compensate for my lack of cooking skills…

  19. georgene says:

    I was not ‘born organized’ or born a ‘good housekeeper’. I know people who are a natural at it. That was/is not me. I have had to work at it, learn from others over many years to get to the place I am today. I’m not a perfectionist but generally I could have someone drop in on me and I would not feel uncomfortable (and more importantly not make THEM feel uncomfortable). That is important to me. I use Flylady’s routine.

  20. homefire says:

    @georgene – Sounds like you have mastered it!  The “drop in” test is the biggie, and I would fail it an awful lot of the time.  One thing about it, I have learned to swallow my pride.You mentioned perfectionism, and that’s something that actually contributes to my problems.  I have always tended to be a perfectionist in the little things.  Like my drawers and closets were all perfect, but the middle of the room was a cluttered mess.  The spice rack was alphabetized, but the sink was piled high with dirty dishes.  The problem was that I never did anything until I could do it right, which meant that lots of things never got done at all.  I have relaxed in this a lot as I got older–had to force myself to let kids do things imperfectly, to put things away quickly rather than letting them pile up, or we’d have all been buried in the mess.  Now I’m not so much a perfectionist, but still, unfortunately, messy.  @ISpeakLife – I’m trying to decide why I remind you of you…neat freak would NOT be the way I’d describe myself!    So do you have routines?

  21. Yep, I have routines.  Wouldn’t know when to do things otherwise.  I have certain days that I do laundry especially.  Learned that from my mother who was a very adept housekeeper.  I’m not up to her speed, but have adapted my routine to fit my family unit better.  Routines have also kept me motivated to do things that I don’t enjoy. The biggest problem with routines is what to do when I can’t be home at the routine times.  It kind of throws me and I have had to LEARN to be flexible.  Cleaning is not a big thing for me and I’ve learned that it doesn’t have to be perfect-dust the most obvious and sweep the walk-throughs in a pinch. Having said all that…hubby still wonders sometimes if his jeans are clean (4 pairs-4 days) because I’ve forgotten what day it is. OOPS!

  22. I almost spit coffee when u said the spices were alphabetized but the dishes were piled high!! I’m tellin ya, we’re long lost twins!!! I refer to myself as the politically correct procrastinating perfectionist Believe it or not I’m slowly getting things back together!!! I love flylady’s take one room/area a week and work on deep cleaning it. I would set my timer for just 15 minutes a day and work in that area. You’d be amazed at what you can get done in 15 minutes, especially if the kidlets help. It’s fun to race the clock. Preparing for the next day the night before is SUCH a big help.(cough cough as I sit here looking at dirty socks and cups strewn about from last night  lol) Making sure everything is picked up, trash taken out, prepping any food for the next day, set out clothes, throw a load of laundry in, maybe set the table for breakfast, whatever you can do to wake up to organization not chaos. Once I had that down, I moved on to the morning routine, then the afternoon, etc…I love routines but others don’t. I’ll tell ya who I love and refer back to often is Kym Wright and her manual Women Living Life on Purpose  A fabulous fabulous manual!!Blessings,Renee

  23. homefire says:

    @RebornLovingHim – “it doesn’t have to be perfect-dust the most obvious and sweep the walk-throughs ”  That’s something I really need to learn.  When I dust, I dust everything.  I tend to think, “Why bother, if you aren’t going to do it right?”  Which is stupid, I know, but I get stuck in one job and never move on.  I once spent hours cleaning the oven and looked around at the end of the day to realize that the rest of the house was a disaster and the oven dorr was closed.  So then I pretty much quit cleaning the oven–I mean, who sees it anyway?    Seriously, I am not very good at going over the top.  Maybe I should make that my focus for the next week or so.You said, “Routines have also kept me motivated to do things that I don’t enjoy.”  How?  Why is that motivating?  I have, at different times in my life, set up schedules for my housekeeping.  They tend to just make me resentful.  (I don’t FEEL like cleaning the living room today, so there, schedule!)  I guess I’m just rebellious rather than motivated…   @littlelambsx6 – Yeah, you understand me, sister!    (Have you ever read the Messies Manual?  It’s terribly funny and describes us to a “T”)  Boy, I wish you lived next door!  I just need to get re-motivated and do some of those things again.  After all, I have read pretty much every housekeeping book on the planet.  Oh, no, I haven’t read Kym Wright.  I get her newsletter, but it’s not about housekeeping.  Have to go check that out.

  24. dotmarie says:

    I live and breathe routines. I discovered in my first 2 weeks of being a housekeeping married woman that I would have to have a routine or everything would be disgusting before I ever got around to cleaning it. So I made a 2 week schedule, writing down what I needed to do each day so that everything gets done either every week, 2 weeks, or 3 times in 2 weeks. I also have a continuing list of stuff to do “in spare time.” Like clean out my car, wash the walls in ___ room, wash windows outside, etc.

  25. I had to train myself to hit the top because I was taught at home to do things RIGHT!  And I’m thankful I was.  Before I had children it was not hard to do everything correctly, but was impossible afterwards.  So…I now hit the top and most of the time it is possible to spruce up the house in less than an hour if we would like to have company (DH is not a planner) or if someone pops in I’m not totally mortified, just a little embarassed.  I do think different people have different areas they concentrate on though.  For example, I do not like to wash windows, so my windows are usually dirty.  Some people would not call a house clean if the windows are dirty.  I figure it will rain anyway, so why stress?  You asked how routines motivate.  I think that the more you do something, the less of a big deal it becomes.  We have a waterbed and it is a PAIN to wash the sheets and put them back on, but I know that’s just what I do on Wed. morn, so it is less of a pain.  My daughter noticed the same thing with unloading the dishwasher.  She admitted the more she did it, the easier it became.  Hmmm, I think we’ve slid a little in that area.  I definitely don’t have all the answers, but that’s just what works for me most of the time.

  26. homefire says:

    @dotmarie – Why does that not surprise me at all?    And this makes it quite obvious that such things are not a product of training but simply an extension of one’s personality, right?@RebornLovingHim – ” the more you do something, the less of a big deal it becomes”   You know, that’s probably true.  Everything related to cleaning seems like a huge deal to me right now, and that’s probably why.  On the other hand, a few years ago when I was having houseguests every week or two, the whole thing became sort of routine.@littlelambsx6 – Ouch–that book is $20!  I doubly wish you lived next door–I’d borrow yours! 

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