Over the past few weeks I’ve kept coming back to my 50s housewife week. Sure, the elaborate schedule was a bit over-the top, but there were lots of positives about it as well, and overall, I was really happy that week. I thought my house looked great, and I felt on top of life in a way that I’ve struggled to feel since. So I decided to try a similar experiment, but adjusting the schedule to suit me. I took what I considered the “best” elements out of the 50s cleaning rota, and applied them every day.
Download a high-quality PDF of my schedule here.
The first thing I thought worked really well in my 50s week was to have a set morning routine. It doesn’t have to be fancy – just something you do every morning to start the day “right”. I actually thought the entire morning routine in that schedule worked really well, but as I was focusing on cleaning, I isolated those elements.
The first thing on the everyday morning routine is to open the bedroom windows and throw back the covers. The idea behind this is that after you’ve been sleeping in a room, it might feel a bit stuffy. The sheets can also get a bit sweaty overnight, so making the bed straight away isn’t actually a good idea – it’s important to air everything out first. Then, make breakfast as usual, and post-breakfast you make the bed and close the window if it’s too cold to leave it open (which, let’s face it, in London it always is…)
Finally, another trick from the 50s schedule:
Gather a basket for tidying. As the rooms of the home are tackled, pick up items that aren’t where they belong and place them in a basket. Redistribute them where they should be as you enter a new room
I found that this worked incredibly well, although often I didn’t actually need the basket at all. The basket is a good thing to have if there are quite a lot of things that are out of place – say if you have children or messy housemates. I found that after a day with the basket, things tended to stay put most of the time, and the morning tidying was pretty minimal. However, little and often is important for Type 1 tidying.
And that’s it for the morning!
I realise that I was doing this in quarantine, and largely on my own schedule, but I think anyone can achieve these things before going out to work in the morning (or before working from home). It’s basically making the bed and tidying a few loose items – nothing too stressful – but the difference it makes to your day is huge.
The Daily Chore
Having a different daily chore every day was something I found really helpful on the 50s rota, as it lets you focus on one thing at a time without feeling overwhelmed. I actually got this from The Good Housekeeping Housekeeping Book initially (available here in the public domain), and have since edited it to what I think are the most important things (and the simplest to do in a day). For example, the book suggests “cleaning the kitchen thoroughly” on Mondays, which is actually quite a lot of work, and isn’t strictly speaking necessary to do every week (unless you fancy cleaning your fridge and oven on a weekly basis – I personally think this is more of a seasonal thing). I’ve changed this to “cleaning the floors”, which does need to happen every week (it’s crazy how quickly those things get dirty). You can, of course, adapt this to suit your lifestyle. I’ve been trying to get better at actually mopping, and moving furniture out of the room to do a more thorough job. However, if a quick sweep or hoover is enough, then by all means, do that! The important thing is to do something, however small it feels. I also found it helpful to get the harder manual labour of cleaning the floors out of the way at the start of the week. Below is the schedule I ended up with:
- Monday: Floors
- Tuesday: Laundry (clothes)
- Wednesday: Bathrooms
- Thursday: Laundry (linens: bedsheets, dishtowels, microfibre cloths, etc)
I feel like it’s important not to overdo this sort of thing, and not to put chores on just for the sake of it. There wasn’t really anything important enough for Friday, and I’d rather leave time free than fill it up with things like “if necessary, XYZ”, which somehow feels a lot more stressful. Most of my issues with the 50s schedule is that half the tasks on the list were of this nature; things that I didn’t actually have to do most of the time, but that just reminded me of the endless list of things I might have to do one day. Let’s just focus on what actually needs to be done every week, shall we?
One thing I did really like about the 50s schedule was the separation of laundry into clothes and linens. As I mentioned in my blog post at the time, in the past I would always do laundry as it came up, rather than having a set day for it, meaning that:
A) I would end up with GIANT loads of laundry, and it would take forever to hang up and dry, and
B) I’d never actually get round to things like dishcloths and linens, as I would always prioritise clothes.
Washing little and often is so much more effective in the long run, and makes the entire task feel like less of a big deal as well. Things take less time to dry when they aren’t overcrowded on the drying rack, and when things take less time to dry you don’t need to leave them up for days on end, taking up huge amounts of space and looking untidy. I also recommend putting the laundry in first thing in the morning, and hanging it up as quickly as possible, so that it can (hopefully) dry that same day and be taken down that evening. It’s both annoying and potentially quite stressful having things spill over into the next day.
Finally, the bathrooms are a Wednesday thing. I think it’s important to do some sort of bathroom cleaning every week. Again, it’s completely up to you how much or how little you do – as a bare minimum cleaning the toilet probably isn’t a bad idea, and I recommend using this as a set day to do things like replace the towels with fresh ones and pour the drain unblocker if you need to. At the minute I like to do everything: the toilet, the floor, the sink, the bath/shower, and clearly the most important thing: the mirror. Having a shiny mirror makes the place gleam and glisten in a way that nothing else does! Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all? (Me, the answer is me.)
The final thing on the schedule is to “straighten things up” every evening. This is a combination of various chores in the 50s schedule, but I think they can basically be lumped together. Leave the house looking nice as a present to yourself in the morning. Think: what would I like to wake up to? Again, this doesn’t have to take long. 10 minutes of folding the sofa blankets, fluffing the pillows, wiping the surfaces, and putting on the dishwasher is literally all it takes – but I’ve found that doing this in the evenings makes me SO much happier and more productive when I wake up the next day.
Strangely, it’s also helped me sleep! Knowing that you’ll be waking up to a fresh, clean house is such a nice feeling that I’ve found I can relax and “switch off” more easily.
I’ve found that most cleaning schedules are a little bit “all or nothing”. There’s either far too much on there, with hugely ambitious amounts of detail 7 days a week, or the advice is too vague and imprecise.
I think leaving the weekend largely free is very important in order to rest, and be motivated to start again on Monday. The effects of spending all week cleaning should last for a couple days, and after all what’s the point of having a nice house if you can’t sit back and enjoy it sometimes! I’ve therefore left no big chore for Friday, nothing at all for Saturday, and very little for Sunday.
The idea is that the only thing that really needs to be done on Sunday (evening) is to prepare the house for a fresh week. This is essentially to avoid Monday being too overwhelming. I’ve found that a simple tidy and straightening up does the trick – under 20 minutes. This is also a good time to change the sheets – fresh week, fresh sheets!
This also leaves more time over the weekend to focus on Type 2 tidying, if there’s anything you need to organise in a bit more depth. As I mentioned in last week’s post, both types of tidying are equally important, and spending hours and hours on grunt work every week can stop you from ever taking a step back and thinking about whether everything is organised in as efficient a way as possible.
My main motivation for creating this was finding something that can work with anyone’s lifestyle – something that keeps the house clean without fully taking over your life. I often find these checklists can be quite overwhelming, and can actually make your life more difficult. This is why I’ve tried to keep things as simple and flexible as possible, without things like set timings or anything too specific. It’s your house, after all – if you don’t want to waste time polishing your mirror then you shouldn’t feel guilty for that!
I also firmly believe this can be done by someone living alone and working full-time – the morning and evening sections don’t take more than 10-20 minutes, and the daily chore can basically take as long as you have time for, and you can adapt around that (for example doing a quick hoover if you don’t have time to mop). However, if there are multiple people in the house, a little teamwork can go a long way. You can split up the individual chores (for example my husband and I usually have a system where I put the laundry on and he hangs it up), or you can split up days – one person takes Monday and Tuesday, the other takes Wednesday and Thursday.
The main goal is to keep the weekends clear, so as to avoid a long week of work followed by a weekend of cleaning and tidying.
I again documented a full week of this schedule, which you can check out on my Insta Story Highlights.
Do let me know in the comments if you tried it out, and if so, what you thought of it!! 🙂 X