Keeping Housework Simple and Cleaning Basic during Times of Stress #5368
The primary housekeeper has an important job in maintaining a safe and inviting atmosphere in the home. A housework checklist, whether it is written down or simply kept by memory, is an important tool in keeping track of what is necessary for the basic functioning of a household and for what is uniquely comforting and relaxing for each family. This checklist can be essential for the physical and mental wellbeing of the entire family during difficult times.
We all function better during stress if we can maintain or re-establish a clean, comfortable, consistent base. We all want to depend on the ability to wash in clean water with soap, and to dry our hands on a clean towel. We expect to be able to sit down on a comfortable chair or to lie down on a clean bed. If our clothes are clean and we can eat a nourishing meal, it is easier for us to cope with life’s challenges. But, because the primary housekeeper may need to expend all of his or her energies on the crisis or problem, it may not be possible for them to give their houses a thorough cleaning during a stressful time. Whether the stress is caring for a new baby, meeting difficult deadlines at work, caring for a family member after an accident, surgery, or during an extended illness—or if life has been disrupted by a long-term power failure, a fire, or a natural disaster—we and our families still have basic needs to be met. Keeping a clean house in stressful times can be a challenge. These are the times to focus on the basics and to keep things simple and clean.
If you have a basic housework checklist, and if you concentrate on the chores that will make the most difference to you and your family, you can let the rest of those chores go until life settles back down. If everybody has clean clothes, if there are clean dishes to cook with and eat from, if the garbage is collected and removed from the living areas, everyone will feel a little better. Everybody has different household stressors. Some people can let everything else go for a while as long as their bathroom is clean. Other people are uncomfortable if their beds are not made. Still others “have to have” their kitchen floor washed immediately after cooking a meal. These stressors are unique to your family, and should be on your basic housework checklist.
Remember to prioritize while you are focusing on the basics of simple and clean. Focus first on the basics: dishes, laundry, and garbage. Rinse dishes immediately after they are used. Load them into a dishwasher if one is available—or soak them in hot, soapy water until the water cools, rinse them, and let them air dry. Be sure to keep towels, bedding, underwear, pajamas, and comfortable, casual clothing clean, folded, and put away. If your laundry room is already set up with a basic detergent that is safe for most fabrics and if you have an effective, easy-to-use spot remover, you will be able to keep up with this task. Remember, folding clothes can be therapeutic—and even small children can fold towels and underwear. A shared task will help even the youngest member feel valuable to the family, especially when the adults may be preoccupied. At set times during the day, for instance after meals and at bedtime, pick up the trash to be thrown away. This is another task that can be shared.
Next, branch out to doing things that help keep your family well, like stocking up on and preparing healthy snacks. Also, make sure everyone gets enough rest, including the very young.
One important task can help fight the spread of infectious disease--wiping off the bathroom fixtures with a sanitizing solution once a day. In a pinch, pour a little alcohol on a folded length of toilet tissue and wipe off the chrome fixtures in the bathroom, including the toilet handle and the faucets and water knobs.. The sinks and counters can be wiped down as well. Then, flush the tissue. Some products make this task extremely easy and quick. For instance, try the disposable clothes that are treated with disinfectant. If there is time after these basics, focus on chores that will have the greatest psychological effect on you and your family, whether that is making the bed, keeping cold drinking water in the refrigerator, or making the house smell like chocolate chip cookies. Everything else will keep until a better day.