I must admit that sometimes, my house is just a mess.
As a stay at home mother of a sweet and energetic little two-year old and another baby on the way, there are times when just looking at the trail of toys, the clutter, the pots, the pans, and the dishes exhausts me…or sends me to the verge of tears.
The task in front of me seems overwhelming, and I wonder how I will, yet again, get it all done. The duty of cleaning seems like an endless one that I repeat every single day. And these times with my little girl are so precious and fleeting that the last thing I want is to have to spend all day cleaning!
I have often struggled to find a balance between all that there is to be done within the home, and being intentional about the time I spend with my daughter during the day. I want to create a home that is a peaceful haven for my child and husband, yet I don’t want to be so busy with tasks that I let these sweet times pass me by.
But, I have to tell you about a little method of cleaning I read about that I have adopted over the past few months that has been so helpful: I have been setting the timer in my kitchen for 15 minutes as a race to see how much cleaning I can get done within that time. It’s that simple. No rocket science, no special equipment required. Just a timer set for a very reasonable amount of time to get me into cleaning mode.
Looking at a messy house can feel daunting, and scrubbing it from top to bottom can take some time. But the good news is, our homes don’t require complete scrub downs every day, just maintenance type cleaning.
Fifteen minutes may not sound like much time and goes by pretty quickly, but it’s amazing how much you can accomplish within that time frame if you just really focus on the task at hand. And if you do this every day (or even a couple of times a day), then it actually helps your home not need as many day-long scrub down sessions, because the house is already staying at a better level of cleanliness. 15minute cleaning
Here’s an example of a recent day. I had just put my little girl down for a nap, and the house needed some cleaning. I started a load of laundry (I try to do one load a day), set my timer, and I was off! My dishwasher needed to be emptied and I had a pile of dishes to be loaded, so it took all 15 minutes to clean up the kitchen.
However, by focusing and working quickly, I was able to get the entire kitchen clean during that time. I unloaded the dishwasher, reloaded it, wiped down the counter tops and scrubbed the sink, and then took my wash cloth and “mopped” the floor (I sometimes mop with the cloth under my foot and it actually does a great job without the mess of a mop and bucket when I am short on time).
15 minutes later-relief. And I don’t know about you, but if my kitchen is at least clean, then the worse part is over.
Now, if I hadn’t had all those dishes to do, I could have gotten even more done around the house. My fifteen minutes was up, but I was now on a roll and motivated by how much I had already gotten done in such little time. So, I set my timer for 15 more minutes, and got most of the basic surface cleaning done around the house. I picked up all the clutter on the floor left by ‘hurricane Emily’, and put all of her stuff by her door so that when she woke up I could put it away. I put my clutter away, dusted the major surfaces with a damp wash cloth, then took the cloth and wiped down spots on our leather couch, cleared the clutter off our other counter top , and even managed to sweep the foyer and entry way, the dining room, and the living room. I moved pretty quickly, but it was well worth it!
This 15 minute cleaning principle can be helpful in so many different ways; you can use it for cleaning the kitchen, light surface cleaning if the house is clean but just needs a good straightening, or you can use it and focus on a bedroom, a bathroom, the mountain of clothes to be ironed, or even a closet that needs some work. I originally learned about it from FlyLady.
It’s amazing, if you just set your timer and get to work, how much you can get done! I tell you this to encourage all of you busy ladies out there -whether you are a stay at home mom, or a tired working woman-that if you will just set your timer for 15 minutes, your house can look MUCH cleaner in a matter of minutes! I’m not talking about having perfectly de-cluttered closets and drawers, (though setting a timer for one of those would certainly help as well and might not be a bad idea!) but just having your home be more of a restful, peaceful haven.
I love doing this just before or at the beginning of nap time because I feel like I can then breathe a bit easier and actually take some time to relax knowing my house is clean, and I also love for my husband to come home to a less cluttered house. This is also a great thing to do before bed, because waking up to a tidy home is always so nice.
So the next time you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the mess that surrounds you, be encouraged. Take a deep breath, set that timer, and get to work! However you think this could help, whether it’s light ‘pick up the clutter in the living areas’ type cleaning or tackling that messy kitchen, I encourage you to try it. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish in just a little 15 minutes here and there!
Nancy is a pastor's wife and stay at home mother to their two year old daughter, Emily, and is expecting another baby this coming May. She loves "all things domestic", including cooking, organizing, decorating, and crafts, as well as running and photography. She can also be found at her recipe blog, Casual Cuisine, where she regularly posts new recipes she's cooking up.