11.02.2010

My Minimum Maintenance

Since quitting my job and becoming a SAHM (and then getting re-hired to be a WAHM) I’ve been reading blogs. I had never really been a reader before, but I was spending a lot of time sitting on the couch with an infant who will only sleep if she’s being held. I had one hand free, and surfing was about the only thing I could do. I was also having a hard time coming to terms with the amount of time I actually have in a day for doing all the things I expect of myself – cooking, cleaning, volunteer work, paid work, relaxing, doing something creative, exercising… the list went on and on, as I sat on the couch holding a baby.

In clicking through some blogs, I read about Minimum Maintenance. The premise is basically to do the absolute minimum amount of work necessary to make your home hygienic and livable. It was a an amazing thing to read. I don’t have to scrub! I don’t have to mop! I just have to do what’s “good enough” for now. I never make the bed, I sort the laundry just before putting it in the machine. I clean as I cook (but only what’s necessary) and I try to do things in a way that minimizes mess, all day long.Tomorrow I’ll need to do something else, maybe mop or scrub something, but not today.

So I put the Pie in the wrap, and turn on the timer and race through each room, getting as much done as I can in 5 minutes. Sometimes things get left half done, and I don’t get to everything. But the room is at least picked up, and the parts that need to be clean are clean. I have a sense of accomplishment, my house isn’t a disaster, and I allow myself to be realistic about what I can get done with my baby who must be held. If I’ve done all the rooms and I still have the time & energy to clean, maybe I’ll finish some of those half-done projects. But I don’t have to. And who looks at baseboards, anyway?

I’ve also been silently following a blog called Home Sanctuary. I earn points every day for doing one “simple thing” like putting away all the rogue shoes in the house, or cleaning my coffee pot, or sanitizing doorknobs. Accomplishment and reward, in a matter of a couple of minutes a day!

Having a baby is hard. It’s wonderful, but hard. I sometimes realize I’ve forgotten to brush my teeth and I haven’t showered in days. But I have done what I could do today so that my house is not adding to the chaos. I can sit it my living room and choose to ignore the imperfections, because the mess is not taking over. I’ve done my minimum maintenance. My home may not be a sanctuary yet, but it’s a pleasant place to be.

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