I am not one for cleaning. Sure, I'd like to have a clean and orderly house, but the effort to get it that way seems to overwhelm me most of the time, so I don't even try. I'll do the basics - washing dishes, laundry, vacuuming once the layer of dust bunnies gets too thick, cleaning the bathroom when it starts looking really gross - but I don't do much more than that. At least not on a regular basis. I think my main problem is that in order to clean things first I need to get rid of the clutter (toys on the floor, piles of papers on the counters, etc), and it's the clutter that's really overwhelming. As well, the size of the task often seems daunting to me (washing all the windows, cleaning all 3 bathrooms). However, since it doesn't look like we'll be hiring a maid any time soon, I need to get over all that and make a change. I have been blessed with a beautiful home, as well as the opportunity to be at home full-time to take care of it and our children, and I need to do my part. I don't want to neglect my children in order to have a tidy house (I'm reminded of an old poem my mom has - it ends "so quiet down cobwebs and dust go to sleep, I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep"), but I think that it should be possible to find a balance in spending time cleaning and spending time with the kids.
So when I read about an e-book called "31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way" on my friend Tammi's blog, I thought that it might be the kick-in-the-butt that I need to get my house in order. She's also participating in a blog cleaning challenge, but I'm just going to be doing this on my own (mostly because I'm thinking it will take me more than 31 days to actually get everything done, and I'm a little late starting - the challenge started May 1). I've only started into the book, but I really like it so far. Each day there's a "Mary challenge" and a "Martha challenge" (as in the biblical sisters, Mary and Martha). The Mary challenges are reflective and/or encouraging, and the Martha challenges are specific cleaning tasks. The Mary challenges make you think about why you want your house to be clean, what your role in the home is (it's more than just "housekeeper"!), and how you can encourage and love your family by taking care of your home. The Martha challenges split up those huge, daunting cleaning tasks into little bits to do each day. I like that, because I don't often get hours of uninterrupted time to do anything, much less cleaning, so having the tasks laid out in manageable chunks makes it much more likely that I'll actually do them. Just from reading through the tasks, there are some that I think I might need more than 1 day to complete (like organizing the closets), but most of them I think even I should be able to do. I may not do them all on the recommended day, though. For example, I think the task for day 14 is washing the winter bedding and putting it away. Well, we took the winter bedding off our bed the other day, so I'll probably give it a wash in the next day or so, rather than leave it lying around for another week. But I think just getting things done is more important than doing them on the appropriate day. And probably by the time I get to the end of the list, it will be time to start it all again from the beginning!
I'm also going to try to implement a few of my own "challenges" during this time. One is to get Annika to help with cleaning up her toys each evening. We used to do this with her, but it's kind of fallen by the wayside. Sure, we'd end up doing most of the cleaning, but she would help with a few things, and I think it's important to start teaching her to look after her own things. The other challenge is for myself - I need to take control of the amount of paper that piles up around here. I'd like to deal with any piece of paper (whether that means file, recycle or put on the fridge) within 48 hours (or less!) of it coming into the house. If there's something that can't be dealt with in that time frame, then I want to have a designated spot for those "pending" items. Hopefully with doing these two things, it will help cut down on the clutter, and make actual cleaning easier to do.
Well, I should get up now - I need to clean my oven and microwave today, and that's a biggie!!