If you're longing for a truly tidy home, one fell swoop of decluttering isn't going to make that happen. Neither is a marathon of cleaning. Both of those feel feel either thrilling or horrifying, depending on who you ask. (I am obviously deeply in the thrilling club). I love the joy of loading my car with donations, knowing that's less stuff in my home. I relish in a clean home after hours of scrubbing and polishing and dusting.
But without commitment, none of that is sustainable. The clutter will return and the dishes will pile and the dust will gather. Let me preface this by saying that for some people, that's okay. Maybe more than okay, but the desired normal. They may want to focus their time on their family or be exhausted after working 80 hours a week or battling depression or just not care so much about a squeaky clean home. If that's where you are, then I'm probably not your kinda person, at least not in this season of life.
I belong to the critically clean club. The club where I try not to go to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink and don't let the laundry piles explode. I like my home clean, and I like my home in order. It's easier to think and live and breathe and just enjoy life in a home that's tidy. Unfortunately for my husband, I become a monster of a person when the house is a mess. The time we spent two weeks living out of half our house because we were replacing the kitchen floor? A nightmare. To spend less time on the house and more time on things that matter, and to automate things that need to get done, we have certain routines that are followed in our home.
Routines are at the heart of my sanity. A routine saves my mental energy because I don't have to remember the last time I did something, or when I need to do it again. I have a designated day or month to complete tasks. Boom. The end. No stress.
Your routines might not focus on tidiness or cleanliness. My sister prioritizes her health and fitness, so she has specific routines about exercise and healthy eating. While I consider those things important, I don't give them as much mental energy or time as she does. My routines before becoming a mother looked different than they do now. We are all constantly adapting to the season of life we are in, just as we should.
Our habits have been greatly shaped by our daughter, and making sure her needs are met. I've learned to not worry so much about a schedule and instead focus on a routine. Things may not get done at the same time every day, but they will get done and in the same general order.
No matter how early I get up, there is never enough time before I need to leave for work during the week. My morning must-do list is short, because I never want to overwhelm myself.
"[Making your bed] will give you a small sense of pride. And it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed." -Admiral William McRaven
My family tends to accomplish much more when there's not a time crunch of needing to get out of the house.
All these routines, big and small, help our home run more smoothly and give us time to focus our energy elsewhere. Keeping track of all of the routines, however, requires some extra tech help.
Daily and weekly tasks can be stored mentally. For things that get done less often, I use Google Keep to track when to do things. I have monthly and annual lists that I just make copies of everytime I need a fresh template.
I've learned to embrace the digital calendar. For a long time I resisted the calendar app on my phone. I wanted to just remember things, or use a paper calendar. Then I got pregnant. I never realized until then that pregnancy brain is real. And for someone like me, who strives to be on-time and dependable, pregnancy brain was a killer. Raising a child makes it even worse. Pretty sure my brain peaked at age 25, you all.
I was late for two different children's ministry meetings when I realized my system no longer worked, and I needed help. Enter phone calendar. All my events go in my calendar, with a reminder days or hours before. My phone is always nearby, so it's easy to check and see when that meeting or doctor's appointment is. My hairdresser has even started using the calendar to schedule appointments and invite clients, so it comes up on both our calendars. Love!
I also use my calendar to set reminders for things that need to get done but I typically don't remember. For a while, Addy's morning nap fell in the hour before church, and since Austen's clothes are stored in a closet in her room, he sometimes had to go in to get church clothes. Cue crying baby and frustrated momma. So, I set a reminder on Saturday nights so I would remind him to get his church clothes out. Austen is always happy to take Jersey to the vet for her nail trim, but doesn't always remember when it's time. Now he has a reminder in his phone every two months. And when Austen was working in Indiana for three months, I got a reminder to take the trash on Wednesday afternoons so I'd do it soon as I got home from work, since he wasn't there to do it. Making your calendar work for your needs removes the stress of feeling like you *should* remember XYZ, because you have the routine of being reminded when it's time.
I'll preach the greatness of routines until the day I die. Find your routine, write it down, and change it when you need to. We shape our routines to fit our day and rest easy at night knowing we accomplished what needed to get done.