“Clean your house in 15 minutes a day!” At the beginning of 2020 I saw multiple Facebook advertisements from mommy bloggers promising to sprinkle magic over my house. Their gimmick was a daily planner of to-do lists designed to help me tidy up my life.
Each planner was a little different, but the concept was the same. Daily tasks plus day-of-the-week tasks plus rotating monthly tasks equals a clean and orderly home. All I needed to do was shell out $49.99 to purchase one of the planners.
I have to admit, I was tempted. But for the past few years I’ve used a free planning app called Cozi that allows everyone in my family to see and modify our joint calendar. Plus, I have my own housecleaning system that’s worked fairly well for over a decade.
Monday: Change sheets and water houseplants.
Tuesday: Clean bathrooms.
Wednesday: Dust and vacuum.
Thursday: Clean kitchen.
Friday: Finish the laundry.
Did I really need to pay another mommy blogger to tell me how to clean my own home? No, but I’m an easy victim of advertising. I was really tempted to buy one of those planners because maybe their systems were better than mine.
Instead, I opened up the Cozi app and created five cleaning lists, labeled Monday through Friday. (If you don’t use the Cozi app, a word processing document would work just as well.) I typed in all of the daily tasks that keep our home running.
Daily tasks: Make beds, pick up clutter, unload dishwasher, load dishwasher, wipe down kitchen counters, dry-mop kitchen floor, take out trash and recycling, start a load of laundry, finish a load of laundry, and wipe down bathroom counters.
Then I layered in my day-of-the-week tasks for each day. Instead of writing generic descriptions like “clean the bathrooms,” I spelled out every chore so that when my kids helped complete the lists it would be crystal clear what was expected of them. It’s not enough to wipe down the sink and scrub the toilet — cleaning the bathroom also means things like disinfecting the outside of the toilet, emptying the wastebasket, cleaning the floor and vacuuming the bathmat.
After I incorporated the daily and weekly tasks into my Monday through Friday lists, I thought hard about what rotating monthly tasks might be.
Monthly tasks: Wash outside windows, launder dog bed, clean oven, donate old clothes, organize coat closet, tidy front porch, clean out condiments shelf in fridge, wash afghans, etc.
Finally, I printed the lists out and laid them before me. As I stared at all of the housekeeping chores, one thing was crystal clear: It takes way more time than 15 minutes a day to keep a house clean, which explain why we struggle to keep a tidy home. At least I remembered that without spending $50.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.