A woman’s home is her castle, even if it’s covered in dust and pet hair. The days of toiling over household chores and supper are long gone, especially now that women make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce. Tough work schedules and family duties demand more time and leave less room for housekeeping. Yet, despite the increase in female employment, most women refuse to hire household help, even if they can afford it.
Maybe it’s guilt or a control thing, but working women and even those who just downright hate cleaning can’t bring themselves to hand over the broom. If busy women refuse to outsource help, they’re going to need shortcuts to make chores less daunting and ensure that they actually get done.
Don’t throw in the towel, ring it out and start cleaning faster and more efficiently with these helpful tips.
Helen Calvin, a Chicago-based working woman and MBA student at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management attacks clutter by creating designated “mess territories” throughout her house. Bit by bit, Calvin said she separates her messes such as dry cleaning and unread mail into individual stacks that are put away in bins, totes, and corners of the house. When the time comes to tackle these organized messes, she can easily go through the pre-sorted piles because half the work is already done. And speaking of bins, Calvin says these closed containers are lifesavers for covering up a dirty room in a flash.
“Every room in my house has loads of trunks, cabinets, umbrella stands, and oversized urns,” said Calvin. “If I have an impromptu guest, I start tossing everything into all of my containers. I pop on the lid, and my secret’s safe!”
When her home is less-than-spotless, Calvin decorates with fresh flowers. Seeing fresh flowers in the house are somewhat of an anomaly these days, she said. Guests tend to notice the fragrance and foliage before the dusty blinds. Don’t have time to pick up flowers? No problem; just reach into your spice cabinet and you’re bound to find something just as fragrant to use. When in doubt, Calvin bundles artichokes, mint, and rosemary together to create a scented centerpiece that’s good enough to eat.
Stay Ahead of the Clutter
Avoiding clutter can be just as hard as cleaning it up. Good organizational skills and the power to quiet your inner hoarder will help prevent clutter from accumulating. Remember, not all clutter is trash, nor is it always salvageable. You have to decide what stays and what goes. Find yourself on the fence about certain items? Experts at Real Simple magazine suggest boxing up the belongings you can’t part with and write down the date one year from now before tucking it away. If one year passes and you didn’t miss the items in the box, then it’s probably time to give them up.
De-cluttering is a tedious, ongoing chore, but the results make all the difference. Cutting out the clutter makes your home look tidier and allows you to easily find things. Less clutter equals less stress. And what working woman really needs more of that in her busy life?
Focus on One Task at a Time
When it comes to cleaning, it’s not always best to dive right into the clutter without a plan. This approach can overwhelm you to the point of quitting and can even leave you with a bigger mess than you started with. While some chores can be done on a whim, it’s much more effective to have a methodical plan before you start scrubbing away.
Instead of cleaning one room entirely before moving on to the next, Calvin finds it easiest to complete one task at a time. After wiping down all the windows in the house, she moves on to vacuuming the carpet, and so on. She said this method of tackling one chore at a time speeds up the process because you’re not constantly switching rooms and alternating cleaning products.
“I clean task by task,” said Calvin. “I get my Windex and rag and go through the house cleaning every mirror and window. Then I drop that task off and grab the vacuum, hitting every carpet in the house. It’s true that you don’t get the intermittent satisfaction of finishing a whole room, but overall, your cleaning is done much faster.”
Just because you can’t devote hours to cleaning doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing at all. In fact, breaking up your chores into 10-minute intervals may be just as effective for reaching your weekly cleaning goals and may help prevent burnout.
Pamela Gerik, a Houston high school teacher, cleans best when her chores are spread out throughout the week. Some days are harder than others to get motivated to clean, she said, but splitting up the tasks makes it much less daunting.
Newsflash: Cleaning does not have to be a one-person job. Chores can be shared with your roommate, partner, or children. The real challenge here is letting go of the way you do things and trusting another person to handle the chore themselves. Not only will sharing the chore load give you more free time, but it also allows others to take a newfound pride in the home.
Gerik makes cleaning a team effort in her household. She and her fiancé “tag team” everyday tasks like making the bed, washing the dishes, and cleaning the countertops to share the responsibility and make it go faster.
“Overall, I think it’s important to look at cleaning as an opportunity to spend time with your significant other, family, etc.,” said Gerik. “It doesn’t have to be looked at as a chore if you find ways to make it fun.”
Yes, that’s right … cleaning can be fun. If you find yourself lacking the motivation to clean, Good Housekeeping recommends listening to your favorite songs or using a hands-free headset to talk to friends and family while you clean.