Housecleaning: The family in full force
David Milan (The Freeman) - October 27, 2019 - 12:00am

Cebu, Philippines —The home is the most comfortable and safest place to be. It’s no wonder, therefore, that most people want to stay at home most of the time. And when they do, they tend to make some mess.

Okay, making mess around the house may not really be intentional. It’s just that when people are in this very familiar environment, they tend to be less watchful of their actions. But even if people were conscious and careful, the mere fact that there are a number of them together in the home just results in some mess.

There’s meant to be dust flying around, certain things pulled out of their proper places, cuts and ends here and there. It’s a natural part of family living to be frequently confronted with mess. And it can be really a challenge to get everyone to deal with it.

Many parents, for example, complain of how frustrating it is to get the kids to be more involved in the housecleaning. And kids also complain of how Mom – and at times Dad – tends to be overly concerned about tidiness, that make them so restrained in their movements around the house. But then again, freedom comes with responsibility – those that enjoy the freedom in getting the house messy shall also be responsible of cleaning it up.

Melissa Maker, at www.cleanmyspace.com, offers strategies to help get the whole family in the groove when it comes to cleaning. She cautions, though, that it might involve having some ‘uncomfortable’ conversations among family members. But once certain resistance is resolved, Ms. Makers says it’s all going to go smoothly.

Common Goals. Understanding what “clean” means to each family member is an important starting point. The idea is to get everyone on the same page about cleaning and why it’s necessary. This way everybody in the family understands the common vision and goal – which is a clean house.

Most Important Areas. Figuring out the most important areas of the house is really important because it’s impossible to clean the whole house all the time. So, it makes sense to figure out those areas that are really important to family members. These are the areas that get that guttural reaction from everyone when they see these messy, and make them feel good when clean.

The family needs to sit down together and everyone needs to talk about what areas are important to them. The living room, the bedroom, the dining room and the kitchen may naturally be counted, since these are where the family gathers frequently.

Who Likes to Do What.  There’s no sense in assigning a cleaning task to someone who won’t do it. It shall be decided during the initial talk which task goes to whom. Everyone in the household surely has a cleaning task that he or she actually likes doing – or at least doesn’t detest.

Challenging Routines or Spaces.  Everyone has to get their dirty laundry out with the rest of the family in discussing the housecleaning challenge. Everything shall be out in the open; everyone shall have the chance to air what they think – if something is going to be overly time-consuming, or frustrating, or difficult – because if they keep it in and then agree to do something that’s not really doable, it won’t lead to anything positive anyway.

If there’s a bunch of cleaning tasks that no one really likes doing, but it’s clearly something that needs to be done, something creative may be considered, like putting all of the tasks in a hat and each family member draws one out until all the tasks run out.

Tweak Routines. A family cleaning routine is a living, breathing thing. It’s going to evolve over time. Family members might take tasks on and realize that it’s too much for them to do, or maybe just too time-consuming. So, tasks may be customized, clustered, tweaked and changes made along the way.

This is how to come up with a cleaning routine that really works, and make everyone in the family happy and willing to help out.

Consider Timing. Timing is a critical discussion point when it comes to housecleaning because everyone always has other ‘urgent’ things to do. The whole week, parents are working and the kids have school. The weekend is everyone’s only breather and so there’s not an abundance of hours to carve out to focus on cleaning.

Housecleaning time need not be in a big bulk. Maybe two hours of cleaning every week is too much. Well, 10 minutes of cleaning a week can make an incremental improvement. So, when it comes to timing, it should be realistic with the time available and the possible time to do cleaning. Whether it’s late at night, early in the morning or on a weekend, whatever works for the family’s varied schedules is what should be allocated.

Unrealistic expectations or an all-or-nothing mentality is never going to get any cleaning done and everyone is just going to feel like they’ve failed before they can even get started. By setting the bar low, it’s easier to meet that baseline and then creep it up little by little.

Schedule the Larger Jobs. When it comes to housecleaning, the family may sit down and have strategic “cleaning meeting” where they can think about the larger cleaning tasks that need to be done. For example, how frequently are they going to clean the appliances, or clean the garage?

Whatever the task is, if just left unassigned, isn’t really going to get done because no one feels accountable to do it.  But if the family sits down and plan it out, they’ll be able to book in dates and times, and assign tasks to people. When it’s booked and assigned, it can get done – because everyone knows what they need to do.

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