House & HomeMom's LifeThe KitchenWork and Passions

Giving housecleaning a PR boost

by Meagan Francis on February 9, 2011

Feeling cranky about sweeping, scrubbing, and folding? It might be time to put a new spin on "keeping house."

We’re liberated, educated women. We can do anything we set our minds to. So why would we want to spend our time, yuck, cleaning? Well, because we kind of have to. It’s tempting to look at mopping floors and scrubbing toilets as mindless, menial work. But what if we looked at cleaning up after ourselves as simply something that civilized people do, rather than something that’s beneath our abilities and pay grade?

Let’s face it: unless you can afford an around-the-clock cleaning service or your husband is so into housekeeping that he begs you not to involve yourself in it, the fact is that some of this work of cleaning and organizing is going to fall in your lap. So how can you face that sink full of dishes with optimism and a sense of purpose, instead of resentment and drudging duty?

  • Get inspired
    It’s easier to do almost anything if you feel good about it. Here are a couple ways to give yourself a fresh perspective on homemaking:
    • Read classic literature about hard-working women. Call it housekeeping porn: there’s something about a description of an all-day, feather-tick-emptying, cast-iron-stove blacking cleaning fest in a Little House on the Prairie title, or one of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s descriptions of immaculate pantries in the Anne of Green Gables series that gets my inner homemaker’s blood churning. Whether it’s the way good housekeeping was valued as an economically-necessary virtue (instead of menial or frivolous) in those days, or whether it’s because I’m so darn grateful not to have to turn a crank to wash my clothes, I’m not sure; but either way, I find that reading literature about bustling, busy–and yet, still happy–19th and 18th century women inspires me to do try a little harder.
    • Check out inspiring blogs about modern homemaking. Here are a few to get you started. A lot of the best ones are written from a Christian perspective, which may not be your thing; so I’ve tried to give enough variety–with descriptions–to steer you in the right direction for your preferences:
  • The New Homemaker. I’ve been a fan of this site for many years. It’s secular, with a green/natural/crunchy slant. Not as much new content as there used to be, but the archives are packed with good stuff.
  • The Urban Farmhouse This one definitely breaks the conservative Christian mold! “To show the world that someone can be a stay-at-home wife, mother and homeschooler and also be secular (even an atheist), feminist and liberal.”
  • Passionate Homemaking “Simple, natural and intentional living” from a Christian perspective
  • The Nester It’s more about decorating and design than cleaning and organizing, but this blog will definitely inspire you to put more thought into your home and surroundings.
  • Don’t Go It Alone.
    Remember my comment about how lonely cleaning can be? That’s one of my biggest obstacles. Two ways around it:
    • Team up. I loved this comment on my last post from Alison: “The one thing that has helped me the most with housework is having my sister-in-law come over….It’s so much more enjoyable to clean with someone you like.” I LOVE this example of teaming up with a good friend or family member to make cleaning more tolerable and fun for everyone. Let’s face it, ladies, we were never meant to do this stuff alone. I also find that getting another person on board makes it that much easier to tackle a big project, like organizing a closet. The moral support makes taking that first step so much less overwhelming.
    • Phone it in. True, I’ve been preaching a lot about mindfulness and doing one thing at a time lately–but I’ll never begrudge somebody who finds a social way to distract herself from mopping or scrubbing the toilet. My favorite way to zone out? Make a phone call to somebody I love chatting with, slip on a headset and start roaming around the house. Next thing I know, it’s an hour later, I’ve been having a great conversation, and the bathrooms and kitchen are sparkly clean. Win-win.
  • Use products that make you happy. I’ve got a thing for the scent of Mrs. Meyers’ Lemon Verbena-scented counter spray in my kitchen, and Method Pink Grapefruit cleaner in my bathroom. When I make my own cleaning solutions from vinegar or baking soda, I use a bit of essential oil to give them a nice scent, and have fun experimenting with new oil blends. Why would anyone want to inhale bleach or ammonia fumes while cleaning? For the record, vinegar is a proven anti-microbial, though perhaps not quite as potent–though also, not as potentially dangerous–as bleach. Lavender essential oil also contains germ-killing properties and makes that vinegar-water solution smell really nice.
  • Make a little bit of cleaning part of your daily routine. Waiting for some special day or 3-hour chunk of time to tackle basic cleaning is a recipe for being overwhelmed. I think Jennifer of Mommy Tries said it best: “The secret for me is doing a little bit each day….This bit-at-a-time method means the house is never totally clean at any given moment, but it also means it’s never a complete disaster–and I can live with that.”Me, too.

Got any great tips, resources, or ideas to share that help put a new spin on cleaning house?

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah February 9, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I used to view cleaning my house as total drudgery, and lamented it the whole time. Then I realised like anything else in my life, I was making it worse by looking at it so negatively.

For four years I owned my own retail store. I mopped that floor every morning and never once begrudged that time. It was simply something I had to do – it was part of making my store look beautiful. So why was I getting so cranky about mopping the floor at home every three days?

In our house, cleaning is one of my jobs, and I look at with a new perspective now. Much easier!

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Olivia February 10, 2011 at 8:00 am

I think the last point is one of the toughest for me to accept. I daydream of hiring a cleaning crew to clean the house from top to bottom so I can experience a totally clean house for once. I’ve started a serious campaign to get new carpet for our whole house after we get our tax return. So, maybe if that happens I will get my wish for a totally clean house because we will have to move furniture to get it installed.

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Taylor February 10, 2011 at 8:40 am

Put on a favorite high-energy song and challenge yourself to see how much you can get done while that song is on. When the song ends, you’re off the hook. I started doing this with my pre-schooler and found out that it works for me too!

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Rachael February 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Jennifer’s a-bit-at-a-time method is exactly how I want our housekeeping routine to work! Actually, that’s probably the only way it could work—none of us has hours at a time to give to much of anything.

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Charlie September 29, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Great article! When I have time I need to come back to read some more of them.

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