"An increasing number of households do housework without any system, schedule, or routine, more or less reacting to each situation as it arises. This makes things harder, not easier. With systematic housekeeping, most of the time you live comfortably: supplies are not exhausted; dirt and laundry do not overaccumulate; plans and resources for at-home occupations and entertainments are in place.
"In nonsystematic housekeeping, chores are tended to only when the resources are exhausted: when there are not clean clothes or linens and there is school in the morning and stale beds tonight; when it is the dinner hour and the cabinet is bare; when dirt and disorder are beyond tolerating.
"When you keep house like this, domestic frustrations and discomfort begin to be felt long before you reach the point where you decide to do something about them. But when this point is reached, often the troubles cannot immediately be remedied because, without rational schedules, nothing ensures that time or resources will then be available to tend to the house. . . . And, worst of all, the only time you get to experience anything like a well-kept house is immediately after the emergency response measures are taken. The rest of the time—most of the time—you live badly."
—Cheryl Mendelson, Home Comforts (paragraphs added)
I've been meandering my way through Home Comforts again. I read and loved it several years ago, but this time I'm reading it with the idea that I'll go slowly and integrate some of its advice as I go along. The passage above really struck me as I read last night. I've been slowly drifting toward a more reactive form of housekeeping, and I love how it's laid out so clearly for me here why reactive housekeeping tends to feel more frustrating.
In honor of this passage, here's my new daily and weekly schedule. I find that I have to revamp my chore lists every few months to match our constantly changing schedules and lives.
Clear kitchen countersPick up
Sweep and vacuum as needed
Fake-clean bathrooms and change hand towels
Preschool with Pip
Monday: Clean upstairs and change beds
Wednesday: Clean downstairs
Thursday: Grocery shopping
Friday: Odd jobs (deep cleaning, baking, projects)
Saturday: Outside chores
We'll see how that settles in!