Casual Friday + Maintenance Cleaning

  • It was another one of those up-and-down weeks. Wednesday morning I woke up feeling…blah. Tuesday I was a powerhouse of productivity – we had a great walk to school, I tackled a bunch of lingering administrative tasks, I was proactive on work responsibilities, I started thinking through year-end/corporate taxes (always daunting) and had a call with our accountant, I paid credit cards, I updated business banking, I went to the grocery store, I fit in a solo run…and then I got an e-mail that just deflated me. It’s a work responsibility completely out of my hands and something that has been an ongoing stressor for years now. Every once in a while the problem rears its ugly head and I just felt so…vulnerable. The e-mail tone was one of utter frustration and even though the take home message was: “I know this isn’t your fault,” even though my head knows I’ve put 100% into this project and the issues aren’t my fault, it still feels like my fault. I want everyone to be happy. I want my hard work to translate into everything falling in to place. But this doesn’t always happen and that can feel hard. So yeah…there was that. Currently working through how to process this (it has happened before and I know it will happen again on this particular project) and be okay with people being disappointed and realizing it’s out of my hands. Sigh.
  • Rewinding a bit – Halloween was…great. It was supposed to be raining – with high winds – the whole day. Not exactly the best weather conditions for a homemade cardboard costume held together by hot glue, tape, and some paperclips. About 4:00 pm the rain started slowing and by 5:30, when we headed out trick-or-treating, the sun was out and there was a GIANT rainbow in the sky over our house.
  • This is the first year Abby went off with another family + friends, so it was just our Superman in tow. Both kids declared it to be their favourite Halloween yet. It was mild, everyone was deliriously happy that we could actually go out (we were debating setting up little stations inside our house if the torrential rain continued and handing out candy to the kids), we all got home early enough to get settled for bed at a reasonable time + John and I even squeezed in a Sunday night date.
  • The kids are off today and we don’t have a full week of school again until the end of November. I’m working on getting some childcare in place (outside of the preschool era, we haven’t outsourced any childcare). We’ve always worked from home and managed to fit things around the kids schedules. While this is still doable, I’m questioning if it makes sense to do it. I have a lead on a high-schooler that could come home with them after school one day a week and am excited to get that set up!
  • I survived my first solo-parenting duties in almost 2 years. John returned from Las Vegas on 13 March 2020 and didn’t set foot on a plane again until this week. It has been a huge shift for our family (he travelled about 50% of the time pre-COVID). For almost two years there were no middle-of-the-night taxi trips, no jet lag, no perpetual suitcase in the corner. The kids feel a lot older now (Levi was still in preschool in 2020), and I still have the muscle memory for it. Plus, there were no blizzards or trips to the emergency room or – and this has happened more than once – both issues on the same night. It was fun to pick him up at the airport and see the little trinkets he brought home for the kids (I forgot how much they loved this part; lounge candies, conference swag, hotel toiletries = best gifts ever). And it was just so nice to have him back home again. Moving forward, work travel will be minimal. I’m glad of that – though wish we could have avoided a pandemic to get to this point. I’m also proud we survived one short foray back into a world that was once so (too) familiar.
  • It’s getting colder. I looked ahead in the forecast and see temperatures in the negative digits in the not-so-distant future. BELOW FREEZING?! Ugh. The time changes on Sunday, though, and I’m excited to not be eating breakfast in the dark…
I saw this at a local store and nearly died laughing. I should just wear this around my neck as a perpetual excuse for any bad moods over the next 6 months or so – which is exactly how long winter seems to last in Eastern Canada.
  • Also, early nights mean we have more excuses to cuddle up and watch The Junior Bakeoff together. The kids LOVE this show, and I love this show and it really is just the best way to spend thirty minutes before bedtime. We’re still watching old seasons and everyone is so invested (#TeamEliza).

Maintenance Cleaning

My decreased posting schedule means discussions on cleaning have taken a bit of a back-seat and lack the continuity I had first imagined, but I thought I’d wrap things up with a brief chat about maintenance work.

To me, cleaning is distinct from clutter-clearing, which is really the part of the process where I enjoy cleaning. I’ve gone over most of our family habits around dealing with excess clutter and I’ve written about chores, generally, and how we portion up various household tasks. I’ve discussed kid’s clutter, and who does what (and when) to keep our clothing laundered.

But if your household is anything like mine, beyond the clutter and the deep-cleaning, there is always regular maintenance work that needs doing…

do you have a cleaning schedule?

Every two weeks we have someone come and deep-clean (floors + bathrooms, mostly). I only dust every two weeks, but the other cleaning I try to stay on top of in the interim.

I don’t have a schedule for keeping the floors clean; I tend to tackle these frequently, dust-busting/sweeping every day or two. Once a week or so I will task one of the kids with doing this while I clean up the kitchen after supper. We have a long-handled hand vacuum and this works well for them to maneuver in the nooks and crannies (especially under the kitchen cabinets and around the dining room table, the biggest sources of crumbs/dirt). My husband tackles this, too, and is almost fully responsible for floors in the basement.

I try to clean the bathroom sinks + toilets exactly a week after the cleaner has come and I’ll switch out the handtowels at this point as well. I don’t touch the mirrors or bathtubs! This keeps the bathrooms presentable (though I don’t use the kid’s bathroom very often, so will warn impromptu guests I’m not sure of its current state).

what products do you use?

I use a mix of products. I went through a stint of using vinegar and water, but have to admit…I just don’t love the smell. I’ve tried masking it with essential oils, but it just smelled like lemony vinegar.

My favourite is Method all-purpose sprays, especially the Grapefruit scent. It makes spraying down the counters a pleasure.

I remember reading The Power of Habit years ago and never forgot the example Charles Duhigg gives of Febreeze and how they marketed the product in such a way that spritzing a room gave users a satisfying reward. As someone who studied operant conditioning in honeybees, and loves the “Altoid” clip from the Office, I’m not above admitting this works on me, too. While I often just wash things with hot soap and water, using a good smelling spray does make it that much more enjoyable!

what do the kids do?

I’ve already discussed the main responsibilities we give the kids (a few different times), but they are also expected to participate in the maintenance work as required.

I have them clean up their rooms periodically through the week, and will often send them on random errands of the housecleaning variety. Emptying garbage cans, straightening shoes in the entryway, picking up toothbrushes scattered around the bathroom (or kitchen – sigh) sink and putting them back in the toothbrush holder.

do you have daily chores?

No. I remember my sister sweeping her floors every day. I try to do laundry every two days, run the dishwasher when it’s full, and sweep when I notice enough accumulation of dirt and other things the kids may have tracked in that it’s obvious and annoying to me. I almost always tackle all the dishes by the end of the day (loading the dishwasher + handwashing anything that can’t go through the dishwasher). I wipe down the stove every day or two when I’m cleaning the kitchen. But nothing (aside from making my bed, which isn’t exactly “cleaning”) that I do every day.

My husband is great about getting the table well cleaned; our son loves honey on toast and so there are always little sticky drips dotted around his places at the table. It really needs to be deep-cleaned every day or two.

While I wish things stayed clean longer, by staying on top of things (mostly), it has just become part of our wind-down ritual at the end of the day. Putting things back in their place, leaving mostly clean surfaces for the morning – when it will all get undone again, because that’s life.

6 thoughts on “Casual Friday + Maintenance Cleaning”

  1. I am sorry about your work project. It’s frustrating when you’re giving your best and things go haywire because they’re out of your control. Rationally knowing that it’s not your fault, and emotionally feeling it are two different things. I do hope things get sorted out.

    It was great hearing about your cleaning schedule. I love that you have someone come deep-clean every two weeks. My sister (also a full-time working mom of two kids) pays someone, too and I think it’s the right thing to do. Life is too short to deep-clean when you have a job, kids, pets to take care of šŸ˜‰

    The rest of your schedule sounds doable. We try to just clean up after ourselves as we go, as to not create a big mess… I do clean/mob bathroom and kitchen once a week and dust/sweep as needed.

    1. I feel like there is always a mess of some sort. It’s mildly frustrating, but I do like to de-clutter/put things away so that’s good – but I defintiely spend more time doing that sort of thing than I likely should! There just aren’t enough hours in the day šŸ™‚

      Thanks for the well-wishes with work. It’s a new day and I’m heading off to send an e-mail to try to help smooth the issue out a bit before we head in to another week!

  2. Sorry to hear about the work issue. I am very sensitive to situations like that, even when I know I didn’t do anything wrong to cause the email. It’s still defeating, though!

    Our cleaning has really changed post-pandemic. We used to have a cleaner come every 2 weeks. My husband now does it because he doesn’t want to go back to paying for that service. I would prefer we hire it out so I frequently ask if he’s still willing to clean and will say what needs some attention. I am hoping he tires of cleaning soon so we can re-hire our cleaners. They did an amazing job that neither of us could replicate so I feel it was money well-spent!

    1. I handle almost all of this sort of cleaning (floors, bathrooms), so if we didn’t hire someone it would fall to me. It has been a great addition (we only started outsourcing this about 18 months ago), but I DO find it creates some stressors of its own. I feel obligated to clean up any messes so she has a clear working space and I do some of the jobs (like dusting, putting up furniture) ahead of time. I figure I put in about an hour every two weeks to prep before she comes…but I never have to deep-clean my shower, which is such a blessing. I think I’d find it more useful if it was every 4 weeks, but then it would likely need to be longer and basically everyone cleans on a 2-week rotation. I may try to tweak somewhat, though?

  3. I love a clean house but I hate cleaning. We used to have a cleaning service but it got ridiculously high and then my longterm project ended and I had more time at hand so I decided to do it again. Then shortly before Covid I tried out a few services again. Just end of February 2020 we had one girl here who actually stole from us. Ever since we didn’t feel like having people at the house (Covid and bad experience) But I wish someone would do it. I posted about a cleaning schedule a couple years ago but I probably should read it again myself and re-introduce and/or adapt.

    I great that your Halloween turned out to have sunshine and rainbows in store for you.

    Also very sorry about that work email. Those can push you right into a hole and give you all sort of funny thoughts. I have no good solution as on how to deal with it. If you find one let me know.

    1. That sounds terrible – it would leave me feeling very vulnerable and insecure having someone steal. We’ve been very blessed so far – it is new for us to have someone help with cleaning, but both of them have come highly recommended and also clean for other people we know. I feel like that level of accountability/living in a small town where everyone seems to know everyone really helps!

      Yes, Halloween ended up being lots of fun!

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