I recently managed to get a full-time job after almost a year of working part-time, ad-hoc hours. I maybe worked two five-hour shifts a week and had lots of time to myself. Therefore, for the past year, I was responsible for keeping the house nice, and enjoyed having nearly all day every day keeping the house clean and tidy. When I moved to full-time work I realized that I would not be able to manage to keep the house as clean and tidy as I was able to when I was out of full-time work.
I found that these three things have helped keep the house habitable and the housework manageable.
1. Change your desired result
You are not able to spend most of your day keeping your house clean now you managed to find “that job.” You will not be there to clean up when your cat knocks the plant pot off the sideboard — you will find it when you get home from work and are looking forward to your dinner. You’ll find that you just don’t have the hours in the day to do the deep cleaning projects — I liked to clean inside the cupboards and behind all the furniture. So, as part of adjusting to working life, you need to include your expectations of how clean and tidy your house should be.
2. Know the important things to keep tidy
You want your house to be nice to be in after working hard all day. This isn’t about keeping your house ready for your mother-in-law, or the “dust inspectors” to drop in at any moment. It’s barely about making it ready for your friend to pop in for a cup of tea. It’s about enjoying being in your home rather than despairing at how much you have to do. To achieve this know what makes your house look good and inviting to you.
For me, it’s making sure the sofa and coffee table are clear so that I can sit down and relax, and the kitchen counters being clear and having clean pots to make my dinner. This means that each morning I unload the dishwasher and then refill it with the dirty dishes, pots, etc from the night before, straighten up the cushions on the sofa and anything on the coffee table. This doesn’t get my house ready for visitors, but it does mean that I enjoy making my dinner and feel relaxed while watching TV, browsing the net or reading. You may enjoy a made bed, no laundry pile or a clean and sparkly bathroom and would rather spend time on that.
3. Know yourself
I get up 10 minutes early so that I can get in some house tidying time, and then do my make-up on the bus. I know that I am a morning person — I wake up and am keen to get on with my day, and I know that I’m one of those people who can do make-up on the bus. But are you someone who would rather go to bed a bit later, using the time in the evening to tidy up so the house is lovely for you when you wake? Are you someone whose caffeine kick hits just as you get through the door and likes to get things done then? You will need to take time to get these needed chores done so that you don’t have it all to do on your day off. You know when you have some time and energy to get things done so use this time to do your chores.
These three things are a help but they do not result in a spotless house Martha Stewart would be proud to call her own. I have found that I have to be dedicated to do the laundry so that it gets done and need to spend an hour doing the other things that need done at least weekly: changing the pet bedding, cleaning the bathroom, changing the sheets.
But these three things do help keep the house feeling habitable and the housework manageable and I have eaten a lot more home-cooked meals and sat on a lot less piles of stuff since I implemented them.