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    Lorraine Espenhain

A Room A Day Keeps The Frustration Away

woman with tea

Psst! Are you one of those people who slowly become unraveled and unglued when you get behind on your housecleaning?

If you are, pour yourself a cup of tea and sit down. I want to talk to you. If dust bunnies don’t bother you, sit with me anyway. Perhaps you can pass on the information that I am about to share to someone you know who desperately needs to hear it.

I wish that I could be one of those people who genuinely is not bothered by dust, grime, and crumbs, but I’m not. If a month goes by, and I haven’t cleaned the house, these miserable feelings of not being in control come over me. I think that it’s this that bothers me the most, and not so much the dust bunnies. I don’t like the feeling of being in over my head. That feeling of not being in control causes me to stress out.

At first, I tried doing what most people do, which is to clean the entire house from top to bottom every Saturday. There were several reasons why this method fizzled out within a few months. First of all, like you, I work hard all week long. Home schooling is hard work. After teaching, cooking, and doing laundry all week long, the last thing I wanted to do was to spend my weekend doing more work. I felt chained to my mop and broom. When an opportunity to do something really fun over the weekend came up, I would say, “I can’t. I have to clean the house.” Enter seething resentment and God-displeasing attitude.

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Not only this, but when Saturday morning arrived, I would wake up in a bad mood because I knew that I was going to spend the entire day cleaning instead of enjoying my weekend and doing things that bring me pleasure. Most people in a normal state of mind look forward to Saturday, but I had actually come to dread it. Housecleaning does not bring me pleasure. And yet, it has to be done.

If you have older children who can help out with the housework, that’s one thing. But when they’re still young, and your husband works crazy hours, you’re pretty much on your own when it comes to getting the cleaning done.

When I went to the library last month, I spent a few minutes chatting with the librarian, who also happens to be a member of my church. Somehow, we started talking about housecleaning, the bane of our existence. She told me that she cleans one room in her house a day. If it takes two weeks for every room in her house to get cleaned, then so be it. But it’s better than just letting the entire house go for several months.

I decided to try it, and I have to say, I don’t feel so over my head anymore. I typed out a Housecleaning Schedule that looks something like this:

HOUSECLEANING

  1. Living Room
  2. Guest Bathroom
  3. Master Bathroom
  4. Kitchen
  5. Dining Area
  6. Office
  7. Bedroom #1
  8. Bedroom #2
  9. Bedroom #3
  10. Hallway/Laundry Room

DONE

  1. ___________
  2. ___________
  3. ___________
  4. ___________
  5. ___________
  6. ___________
  7. ___________
  8. ___________
  9. ___________
  10. ___________
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I started to clean just one room a day. I found that by doing only one room a day, I was able to clean that one room better than if I had rushed through trying to get all of the rooms cleaned in a single day. Housecleaning doesn’t seem so burdensome and overwhelming when you only tackle one room a day. I also felt like I was in control, and not the housework.

When I let the housework go for several months, every time I see the dust and the grime, it cheats me of my peace. If I try to write an article, pray the Rosary, or read a book, in my peripheral vision, I can see the dust bunnies. They torture me in their own quiet way. They speak to me and will not let me become completely absorbed in anything that I put my mind to. In my overactive imagination, I can hear the little “terrorists” say, “Ahem, we’re still here, and we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon! You belong to us. When you put down that book, we’ll be waiting for you!”

By tackling one room a day, I shut them up.

If it happens that I cannot clean a room on a particular day, I simply do it the next day. I do not double up on the rooms.

I truly envy people (like my husband) who can walk through a house that hasn’t been cleaned in two months and not even notice. But I’m not like that, and I have to accept the fact that I never will be.

You might be thinking that just cleaning one room a day isn’t much, but psychologically, it’s everything! It’s not the housework itself that is causing you stress; it’s the fact that you don’t have time to get to it that is causing the stress. When you clean even only one room a day, psychologically, you feel like you’re doing something about the housecleaning. You feel like you’re in control and not the housecleaning.

If you are feeling overwhelmed because home schooling is causing you to get behind on your housecleaning, and you couldn’t turn a blind eye to dust bunnies if you tried, try the one-room-a-day method.

You just might be pleasantly surprised!

About Lorraine Espenhain

Lorraine Espenhain
Lorraine Espenhain was born in Philadelphia, PA. She presently lives in New Mexico. She is a wife, homeschooling mother, religious instructor, and freelance writer. In the past, she wrote for her local daily newspaper, but then moved on to writing for Catholic.net, where she has over 200 articles published. She also has her own children’s column at Agua Viva, which is the official newspaper in her diocese. See her full page here.
  • Jamie

    Wonderful Lorraine! For the longest time I’ve had rooms assigned to days: bathrooms on Thursday, etc. That really stressed me out. But if I just make a list of rooms and do whichever room is “next” regardless of the day, I’ll be less stressed and more likely to have some clean rooms around here! Thanks for a great sanity tip!

  • Albee

    There is a “system” of home management promoted by a site called “Flylady”,
    which has been very helpful for me. It just doesn’t attack how to clean one’s house in a systematic way, but also addresses the psychology of letting one’s home/relationships/health become cluttered and disorganized–if these issues are problems in life and relationships. As it is, I think most families have these issues whether their lives are homeschooling or not. Personally, keeping up on housekeeping duties is a challenge. Your post, Lorraine, reminded me that I need
    to get to back on a schedule again via the “Flylady” method. The coming new year is a great time to address these issues and start anew….again!

    http://flylady.net/

  • Vanessa

    Very, very good advice! My youngest child is 18 and I started this about 3 months ago….it took me 26 years to figure this out! Oh well, better late than never! Thanks, Lorraine for a well written and very practical article.

  • Abby

    Awesome article Lorraine!!! The messy home does have a tendency to call my attention sometimes louder than the clamor of my own children. When we moved to our cottage, we designed it so that a majority of the rooms were small enough that it would take only five minutes (yes 5 minutes!) to clean up. I actually look forward to cleaning our entire cottage once a week. Cleaning is such a contemplative act for me and some of my greatest inspirations for writing come about while I’m cleaning. And it takes less than an hour to clean our home since it’s so tiny! Thank you so much for the awesome idea! Will definitely try it out during super crazy weeks!!!

  • Lorraine Espenhain

    Hello, Everyone!
    Thank you so much for your encouraging comments! I usually try to respond to each comment individually, but this week as been absolutely insane! The one-room-a-day plan is working very well over here. Yesterday, I was so busy that I didn’t even have time to clean the one room that I had planned to clean. But that’s okay…I’ll try again today. No more bondage! What doesn’t get done today is tomorrow’s problem. Love and hugs to all of you!