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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Following Up on Last Week's Post "Tweaking My Morning Housework Routine"

I've been thinking about some of your comments from last week when I wrote about how I'm still tweaking my housework routines. Two related thoughts that stuck with me concern letting some tasks slide when life gets busy and prioritizing the work that is truly most important to me, personally and in my role in my family. 


While I personally want to remain healthy, it's also critical that I stay healthy (physically, mentally, and spiritually) for the benefit of my family members. For that reason, I dedicate a sizable chunk of my time each day taking care of the different aspects of myself. However, I can't spend all my time just on me. I do have a role to play in my household. My priorities in my role in the household echo some of my priorities for myself. It's my responsibility to ensure there is healthy food available, the house is generally clean, and that I do what I do with a budget kept in mind. I see myself as the support system for my fellow household members. So, those are my basic priorities. 

Letting some tasks slide

I can't always do everything I want to support my family, as life sometimes gets in the way of my best planning. When that happens, I've found that I need to have an idea of what can slide and what really needs to be done. One suggestion in the comments was to let some chores (such as making the bed) slide if I have to choose between doing those or taking my daily walk. For years, I've been doing a version of this, just not thinking it all through. 

When something comes up and I have to skip some tasks, I have a few items that I just cross off my list for the day. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but skipping a shower is usually the first thing I cross off. I can take a sponge bath in less time than it takes to get the water in the shower hot enough to get in. I also skip chores that don't accumulate doubly if I miss a few days or even a week, such as vacuuming or dusting. Laundry does accumulate, so I try not to skip that. So do dishes. Disorganization can really accumulate. So a daily tidying up is at the top of my list to do each day.

This past week, I was thinking about other jobs that I could let slide, if needed vs. those that I really do need to stay on top of. Here are my two lists so far:

Jobs to put off a few days or even a week without consequence, or as I like to call it "thoughtful procrastinating"

  • dusting
  • vacuuming
  • folding some types of laundry (socks and other undergarments)
  • grocery shopping (I can usually stretch what I have on hand by several weeks if need be)
  • ironing -- I've put off ironing for so long now, I don't even keep the big ironing board downstairs near the laundry room. I use a small table top ironing board when I'm desperate. I mostly wear clothes that don't need ironing, or I use my dryer as an iron. In contrast, my mother used to iron every week.
  • mopping the floors -- unless they're obviously sticky, a swept or even vacuumed hard floor makes the room feel cleaner.
  • fancy meal prep -- when filling stomachs has been the goal, bowls of oatmeal with dried fruit and milk has been enough for an evening meal.
  • cleaning the shower walls -- if I'm strapped for time, I will scrub the floor of the shower, but postpone washing the shower walls for a few days to a week. It's the floor of the shower and the drain that can look unsightly in our house.
  • cleaning the oven interior. Unless we're hosting a gathering, my family won't mind if there are a couple of small spills inside the oven.
  • organizing the pantry or other closets. While I would like to have them look orderly, I can get by with a slightly disheveled look to the pantry and closets.
Jobs I can't really put off without feeling the consequences
  • laundry -- I think we all know the "look" -- those clothes that we wear only when we are all out of everything else. And once those clothes are dirty, we're sunk until we do another load of laundry.
  • tidying up -- this is one task I try to do each morning. And now that my kids are grown, there isn't that much to do. It's often just a couple of items that need putting away each day. A tidy house can appear to be "clean" even when I haven't had a chance to properly clean.
  • cleaning the bathroom mirror -- cleaning the mirror makes such a huge difference in how clean the bathroom feels to me.
  • washing dishes/loading the dishwasher. There's no point in not keeping up with dishes. The job has to be done and only grows with each additional meal or snack.
  • taking out the garbage -- there's nothing so unappetizing in a kitchen as a garbage bin that is overflowing onto the floor. And if there's stinky garbage, the odor makes it twice as offensive. Ditto with the kitchen compost container. When it's full, it's got to go out.
  • despite going a couple of weeks (or more) with skipping the cleaning of shower walls, I feel it's worth the effort to clean the bathtub every single week. Why? I love baths, and a clean bathtub just feels better.
  • wiping out bathroom sinks takes just a few seconds and makes a huge difference in how clean the bathroom seems. No one likes to look at toothpaste spit in the sink, even when it's their own. But, I do encourage all of us to rinse the sink out after brushing teeth. It looks better and makes wiping the sink out easier.
  • wiping down the front of the fridge and the handle. If the front of the fridge looks clean, maybe no one will notice the interior shelves need wiping down is my thinking.
  • wiping the kitchen counters. This is not just a visual thing, but could be a health thing as well. So, we always wipe down the counters after meals.
  • opening mail -- the obvious, a bill could be overlooked by not staying on top of opening mail. But also, mail accumulates. I don't save time by opening 1 week's worth of mail as opposed to opening each day as it comes. Still, I've been known to fall behind on this task. Here's my advice to others with this issue -- at the very least, know what day of the month your bills usually arrive, and make sure you check on those days. 
  • bill paying -- I pay bills as soon as I open them or receive them in my inbox. There's no point in delaying, especially as you can often schedule a payment sometime in the future. And with late payment fees, there's every reason to pay on time or early.
  • hanging up clothing or putting into the laundry hamper. Picking up two pairs of dirty socks does take twice as much work as picking up one pair. Not hanging clothing promptly that could be worn again doesn't save any work. It only makes the item look rumpled when I finally do get to hanging it and putting it away.
Jobs I'm not sure in which category they belong 
  • cleaning out the fridge -- to a certain extant, it's important to keep up on throwing away leftovers. However, with the doors closed, it is definitely an out of sight, out of mind thing for me.
  • cleaning the inside of the microwave -- ditto what I said about the fridge.
  • I guess the same goes for cleaning out/wiping down shelves of kitchen cupboards, too.
  • meal planning -- I get it, planning meals in advance makes the actual dinner prep a no-brainer. However, I've also done okay "on the fly" at times. So, if I don't have time to sit down and write out a meal plan for the week, I can at least be thinking each day what I can make, well in advance of the afternoon dinner prep time.
So how about you? Which household tasks would you put on the "thoughtful procrastination" list and which jobs do you think should go on the must-be-done list?


  1. I started doing this years ago when my kids were small. I like to feel like I've accomplished something every day (yes, caring for kids is "accomplishing" something of great importance, but keeping up with chores is also important and impacts everyone). I found I really had to dial back on what I felt was necessary. There weren't enough hours in the day to get everything done that I wanted to do.

    My list is overall similar to yours. Keeping up with laundry, the dishes/countertops/table, and cooking meals are my have-to items on a daily basis. Weekly .... vacuuming (we have a cat--'nuff said!), cleaning the bathrooms, grocery shopping, changing out and washing sheets are my top priorities. I realize I am unusual this day in age for washing sheets weekly, but I sleep better on clean sheets. I *try* to wipe down my fridge shelves once a month or so but I fail at that. I wipe out the microwave when it starts to get on my nerves by looking icky. Twice a year I take our bedspreads/comforters/big stuff to the public laundromat to wash. They don't fit in my washer. I never know what to do about washing pillows--the foam pillows get bunchy and mis-shapen in the washer and I'm unsure about washing feather pillows, so sometimes I put them through the dryer on high heat hoping that kills whatever icky stuff is growing there. Once a year I do a heavy duty scrubbing of the walls, outside of the cabinets, and floors of my kitchen. I did it last week and boy, that's a job, but we invested in a kitchen reno a few years ago and I feel like it makes my kitchen look almost new again. Even though I rarely do any pan frying, there can still be a film of grease on surfaces if I'm not careful.

    Lili, I almost never iron. I will put wrinkled stuff in the dryer with a damp towel to get out the worst of the wrinkles. I only do it if I absolutely have to.

    I also frequently skip showers! Partly to save time, partly because I have eczema and showers can be drying. If I'm going out in public (work, church ... ) I shower, but if I'm mostly staying home, I skip a day. As I have gotten older and need to color my hair, I also skip shampooing as often as I can get away with it. Drying my hair in reality doesn't take me that long but somehow it seems time consuming to me.

    Most days I try to fit in about 45 minutes of exercise. There are days when this just doesn't work out, but overall I feel better and sleep better with a good workout session.

    It will be fun to see how people prioritize their days! BTW, no judgment here on what anyone chooses to do or put off--we each have our own set of circumstances. I won't judge your fridge shelves if you'll ignore the dust in my house. ;)

    1. Hi Kris,
      your list is interesting to read, especially with your explanations. I agree on the hair coloring and washing your hair. I stretch my washing (even with conditioner-only washing) as much as I can so I don't have to touch up the color as often. I think that's just the nature of the semi-permanent hair color.
      As you mentioned doing a deep cleaning of your kitchen, I thought I'd add this -- I try to clean our painted baseboards throughout the house a few times a year. Washing the baseboards makes them look newly painted.

      Do you have a large sink, like a laundry sink or farmhouse sink? You can also do this in a bathtub, but you have to be on your knees. I wash pillows in a large sink, then drain them in the tub. I wash them by hand, pressing the soapy water into the pillow. Then I rinse until the water runs clear, pressing all the while. I press as much water out as I can, then transfer to the tub, where I stand the pillows up on edge along the sides of the tub. After the pillows have drained substantially, like 8 hours or overnight, I press more water out in a couple of towels, by rolling the pillow up in the towels and squeeze. Then I put the pillows out in the sun on a hot summer day. This keeps the pillows from morphing out of shape. If they aren't fully dry by the end of a day in the sun I then put them into the dryer. they don't become misshapen this way. I wash the pillows about once a year using this technique. And I've washed foam as well as feather/down pillows by hand this way.

      Thanks for adding your comments, Kris.

    2. My two cents about pillows; I wash them in the washing machine two at a time.My washer is a top loader.I use the same amount of detergent and vinegar as softener as usual.Afterwards I put them flat in my lawn chairs for a couple of days in backyard.I do this in the hottest part of the summer and they come up fluffy from the sun.

    3. Thanks for the suggestions! I've tried the washing machine method several times and it never works for me, for whatever reason. Lili's method might work. Too bad we don't have the right weather for outside drying right now. This is my quiet time of year when I try to get cleaning projects done.

    4. Hi friend,
      I have washed our pillows in the machine, as you do, 2 at a time for balance, then drying outdoors. I've used the gentle cycle on my machine, which doesn't twist everything quite so much. I think this does work for some pillows. (I've had mixed results over the years, so just decided to go with hand-washing them.) I think it depends on the composition of the pillow. I wash winter jackets in the machine, 2 at a time, too, balancing the load. In any case, drying flat outdoors seems to be best to preserve the shape of the pillows.
      Thanks for your input and sharing your experience.
      Also, I've never added vinegar to washing pillows. Does this help with fluffing up the pillows, maybe helping to rinse out the detergent? I appreciate that tip.

  2. Baking, when time is tight I just buy baked goods like cookies, rolls, pizza dough, cakes. It saves the time making it and the time cleaning up. It doesn't taste as good and it costs more but I've discovered that WinCo makes better pizza dough than me and it's cheaper than ordering pizza.-Kathryn

    1. Hi Kathryn,
      Baking is a good one, as it is time consuming and leaves such a mess. I think this is an excellent choice for skipping when you don't have time or energy. What section of WinCo do you find the pizza dough? Do you have to ask for it or is it in a freezer someplace? I've heard of folks buying pizza dough, but have never seen it in a store myself. That's a great tip -- to buy the dough mixed and kneaded, then assemble the pizza at home and bake. Thank you!

  3. It interesting reading about how people manage the chores they need to do. I always keep up with the laundry, maybe because I don't mind doing it, as well as it's something that needs to be done. As far as cleaning in all areas, I don't have a schedule, but try to clean something when I notice it needs it or add it in when I'm in the area cleaning something else. That mean's I might sweep the baseboards as I'm sweeping the floor in the area. I'll dust here and there as I notice that it needs it. It's not as organized as it needs to be, but we seem to be generally keeping up with things. However, I love a schedule and have made them for household chores, but never seem to stick to them.


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