De-Stress December: Cleaning House

Confession: Our house looks a bit like we have vacated it, and frat boys have moved in. Hordes of them, along with a herd of cats. It could qualify for federal disaster relief up in here. What happened? I can answer that with two words:

Final exams.

We’ve been so focused on statistics, microeconomics, and myriad final papers (both writing and grading – the double whammy!) that we’ve let little things like laundry, dishes, and sweeping the floor fall by the wayside. Today, though, I finally finished my work for the semester, and I was beyond excited to have some time to put my house back together. I find that I feel more calm, more sane, and better able to focus in a house that’s clean and cozy. One of the secrets to reducing stress, I think, is having a place to come home to that makes you feel good. So today I scrubbed, and sorted, and at the end I did feel a lot more zen.

Here’s the breakdown of how I spent my time:

  • 10 minutes: put things back where they came from (hairbands, shoes, sweaters, books…our stuff has migratory habits that could rival the monarch butterfly, but less orderly)
  • 10 minutes: file stray papers (this is our major clutter culprit; I try to stay on top of it)
  • 10 minutes: unload and reload dishwasher
  • 30 minutes: 3 loads of laundry (wash, dry, fold, put away. Repeat).
  • 10 minutes: switch out all towels for clean ones; change sheets
  • 10 minutes: sweep the floors
  • 10 minutes: minify (I always, always pick a few things to give away, and bag ’em up to go to the thrift store. It’s the most important part of cleaning house)

I also plan to surface clean (dust and wipe down sinks and counters) later today, but that’s how I clean house, maybe once a week. My husband does the cat box and takes out all of the trash and recycling, so I never have to do those steps, and every day I try to at least make sure the dishes get done – that’s the one cleaning must-do on my list! I don’t have any sort of regimen for when I mop or scrub windows or wipe down the baseboards – I’ve seen other minimalists’ routines for cleaning, but I guess I’m just not that structured. I think the three basics of a livable home are:

  1. clean kitchen (especially dishes)
  2. decluttering (and taking the trash out – never let that pile up)
  3. clean sheets and laundry

so during times like finals week, I don’t worry about the rest. I figure I’ll get to it when my papers and exams are over – and it feels so good when I finally do!

What about you? Do you have a cleaning routine? Do you think it leads to less stress, or do you think a less structured approach helps maintain a relaxed home?


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