Recently I ran a Cleaning Routine in 20 Days Challenge. I received a lovely email from the wonderful Anna from
Hatchling letting me know she was loving the challenge so I asked her to share her experience with you!
Don’t forget, you can still try the challenge yourself! You won’t receive the emails daily but you can go through the tasks at your own pace. Make sure to read each post so you know what to do and you can find the final list of tasks here.
My name is Anna and I am domestically challenged. More specifically, I am mess-aholic. I was born that way. To be honest, it wasn’t something I was ever particularly bothered by. Some people have blue eyes, some people eat meat pies and some people are chronically messy. I’m quite happy in my little dusty domestic dwelling.
Don’t get me wrong, I recognise when my house needed a good clean to prevent it from becoming actually dirty and would always have a good clean up before anyone came over for dinner. Other than that, there were always books to read, work to be done, wine and cheese to be consumed and the everlasting temptation of blog reading.
Then things changed. I had a baby. I stopped going to my shiny beautiful office with my shiny polished desk that someone else polished every day. I spent a lot of time on the couch feeding my beautiful shiny new baby. I watched dust bunnies turn into tumbleweeds roll past my feet and realised that my home just wasn’t that comfortable any more given that I was now there 20 hours out of 24.
This was of course to the fact that our house was due to be demolished and a shiny new home was about to be built instead. I knew that my messiness was connected to the fact that my house is old and therefore hard to keep clean (you would be surprised how long I stuck to that excuse). Still, on the weekends when my husband cleaned the house, it was undeniably nicer to be in. I couldn’t keep doing whirlwind big clean ups every mother’s group was at my place or when someone came to visit. For one thing, there was a baby attached to my boob, which makes doing anything in a whirlwind manner quite difficult.
Things changed again. Husband went back to full-time study and the new house was no longer an option. My baby grew a bit and I had some personal body space time but I preferred to spend that doing something fun rather spend hours frantically cleaning. I also needed to be able to fit in work and study. Due to both work and study commitments, both husband and I had to do some tag team parenting. Neither of us wanted to spend precious weekend time cleaning the house. The house got even messier.
I started to clean. No matter what I did, it seemed the house was always messy. Kids will do that plus I like to cook. I’d cook then I’d wash up and clean up the kitchen. Feel quite proud of myself and then see the rest of the house. Sigh. Give up.
Things had to change. I read Lisa Bloom’s book Think. Specifically the chapter titled Housework is not your job! It is a job, she writes, but it is not your job. She wrote about not trying to be everything and do everything. When I thought about it, I was taking care of a child full time, teaching most nights and also trying to do post grad research. Plus I was trying to be a better housekeeper and failing miserably. Bloom writes “Don’t you want to help out a female small business owner? Because that’s what most house cleaners are. Don’t condescend. She is an independent contractor looking for accounts. Pay her a fair wage, give her referrals to your friends and a nice holiday bonus, and feel good about helping a sister grow her business.” (2011, p 146)
I did the numbers. The hours I was spending cleaning could be spent earning more money than it would cost to hire a cleaner every fortnight. So I placed an advertisement, had some crazies apply and then the amazing Wendy came into my life. At her first visit on a Tuesday morning, I realised how truly challenged I was in this area. Wendy worked at three times the speed I could, didn’t have a toddler on her arm and actually enjoyed getting my house tidy. I went to the park with my girl and came home with a tired out toddler who happily had a nap and I did some work in a clean house. Win/ win.
Tuesday nights were awesome. I was doing it all, motherhood, working and the house was tidy. By midday Friday, the house was messy again. By Sunday, it was a disaster. Both husband and I needed a system so that we could keep the house maintained and still enjoy the luxury of having a cleaner. I discovered Cassie and her Flying Drunken Monkey. I identified so strongly with her tag line of “one woman’s struggle against house work”. I HEAR you sister. I signed up for the daily emails and started the “Cleaning Routine in 20 days”.
I’m not going to lie. I know the tasks were basic by most peoples’ standards but it was a huge learning experience for me (yes, even with a cleaner) but I persevered. Even though Cassie’s daily tasks started off simple enough (“make your bed”) as the days went by, the list got a bit longer and I went off track a number of times. The benefit of Cassie’s structured routine meant that I did not feel overwhelmed if I missed a few days. We have been able to catch up easily enough. Most days we would do at least 75% of the list. Even Wendy the cleaner has noticed (high praise indeed!).
The biggest lesson I have learned is that even the smallest amount of time can have big payoffs if you do it consistently. I don’t know why I didn’t understand this in relation to keeping my house tidy. I mean, I am constantly telling my students the same thing in relation to study and research. Putting the washing AWAY every day has been a revelation to me. I had no idea how much the piles of washed yet unfolded laundry were doing my head in. Having a house that is fairly tidy means I’m not so keen to escape which is especially useful on those days when Miss Two decides she would rather stay at home.
Another lesson I have learnt is that through cleaning, I have become more aware of how much stuff we have. The 15-minute de-cluttering is devoted to cleaning out one drawer at a time. I have become a regular poster on Freecycle and am hoping to shortly make a small fortune on Ebay (which will pay for Wendy for the next six months!). We have also become more house proud and are slowly framing up artwork and thinking about the aesthetics of our daily living rather than thinking “this will do until we bulldoze”. We are enjoying what we have, rather than fantasising about what we will do in the future. Who knew that cleaning could bring about this kind of change?
So, yes I know I have a cleaner so my testimony to how the “Cleaning Routine in 20 days” may not resonate deeply with many of you but if you knew me in real life, you would be astounded at the changes I have made. As I write this, my husband is giggling at the fact that I have been asked to write about cleaning. Thank you Cassie for sharing your wisdom. You are a true sister!
Thank YOU Anna for your kind words! I’m so glad you loved the challenge and I can’t wait to hear if it continues to help you. And I’m so completely jealous of your cleaner!!
Anna is a sporadic blogger but avid blog reader. Addicted to design magazines but home looks like a Uni share house. Non-crafter but excellent connoisseur of wine. Phd candidate with the world’s best deferral rate. Enjoying the motherhood journey but would like a better salary, more commensurate with workload and conditions. You can find her at Hatchling.