The Dailies

Before you read this: If you have not already read the the introduction to this series, Keeping House – Getting Started, please do so. This information builds, step by step, precept upon precept, and should be read and worked through in order.

Scheduled Homemaking – The Dailies

Every single day, save Sunday, there are tasks to be completed in my home. These tasks are the “dailies”. They are the little jobs that need to be done every day to keep my home in good order.

Dailies are not deep cleaning jobs. Dailies do not take a great deal of time, nor are they, necessarily, labor intensive. However, if the dailies are not done, everyone knows it! What’s more, neglect of the dailies in our household routines leads to chaos pretty quickly.

Do you know the broken window concept? The philosophy is this: If a window is broken in a neighborhood and not repaired quickly, then other windows soon begin to be broken. Graffiti begins to appear, and stolen cars are brought to the neighborhood, stripped and left on the streets. Before long, the entire neighborhood is decaying. This philosophy extends to our homes, too. Have you noticed it?

My garage is a good case in point. When I decorated my front porch for the fall in September a few years ago, the bench from the front porch was stored in the garage “just for now“. As someone came in from working in the yard, a pair of work gloves were left on the bench. Then a hat. Other stuff began to be piled onto the bench, “just for now”. As the bench filled, larger things began to be stacked around the bench. After that, no one thought a thing about dumping their stuff in the garage, just any old place it might land. Before long, we could no longer pull the van into the garage. We even quit sweeping it on a weekly basis, which allowed extra dust and debris to be tracked right up the back steps and into the house.

Dailies left undone can quickly become a “broken window” in your home; and that “broken window” will, if left unattended, lead to your home’s downward slide, just as it happened in my garage.

Everyone’s dailies will be somewhat different, but I would venture to say that there will also be many, many common dailies on all of our lists. Not everyone, perhaps, needs to iron everyday, but all of us should be making our beds daily. The best way to come up with your own list of dailies is to keep a note pad handy and jot them down throughout the day, either as you do them or as you notice that there are jobs that should be tended to daily.

I would encourage you, as you make your list of dailies, to even jot down the jobs that you do without even thinking about them. Making your bed, perhaps. Preparing meals. Even if you are already faithfully doing it, write it down! Write down the tasks that are performed by your children daily, too. The jobs you delegate to others count because they must be done daily.

I am always hesitant to share my homemaking lists because everyone’s household is different. I would not want my list to become your list, nor would my home work as it should if I were to use your list. However, just to give you an example, here is the better part of my list of “dailies” for Monday – Saturday:

  • Pull back bed covers to air bedding
  • Start laundry & recycle throughout day (this means putting clothes from the washer into the dryer as the washer finishes, pulling the dry laundry out of the dryer as soon as it is done, setting aside things that need ironing, folding or hanging everything else, and then putting it all away).
  • Make breakfast
  • Clear breakfast dishes**
  • Empty dishwasher**
  • After breakfast dishes (dirty dishes into dishwasher, hand wash anything that requires it)**
  • Wipe crumbs from all the counters
  • Scour and/or wash the kitchen sink**
  • Spray and wipe all kitchen counters, moving things aside to wipe underneath
  • Spray and wipe stove top, and wipe down front of stove
  • Wipe top and front of dishwasher
  • Polish stove top and front dry
  • Polish sink faucets dry**
  • Hang up kitchen towels neatly, put dirty towels and dish cloths in laundry room baskets
  • Check the menu plan for tonight’s dinner and pull out anything that needs to defrost
  • Shake out tablecloth outside and either replace on table, or put on a fresh tablecloth**
  • Make beds (Everyone in my home makes their own, some more neatly than others of course)
  • Vacuum ALL floors (carpet, laminate, vinyl and tile)**
  • Start watering/irrigation (and keep the scheduled watering going throughout the day)**
  • Straighten living room (pick up any abandoned items (dishes, shoes, etc.) and deposit them, neatly, in the room where they belong, fold and replace any used afghans, straighten up magazines, etc., straighten up furniture (I have laminate floors and our tables and chairs scoot about on them!)
  • Swish toilet, spray & wipe bathroom (I do the master bath, Dani does the main bath, and Aaron does the back bath)
  • Make lunch**
  • Clear lunch dishes**
  • Do the after lunch dishes**, wipe counters
  • Shake out and/or change table cloth after every meal**
  • Iron (anything from the day’s laundry)
  • Straighten school room (at the end of the school day)**
  • Make dinner (Dani makes dinner Monday and Saturday)
  • After dinner dishes and kitchen clean up**
  • Check tomorrow’s calendar
  • Check tomorrow’s menus
  • Correct the day’s homeschool work
  • Make any notes for tomorrow for school, homemaking, etc.

** represents the chores delegated to others – These are jobs that my children do, but they are still part of my list of dailies. If they are sick, or away from home, these things still need to be done!

Once you have your list made, look it over and think about when all of these things should be done. For most of us, the dailies tend to be grouped into specific working times throughout the day, and these can quite easily be worked into routines that naturally occur during the course of our days.

For example, my routine when I wake up in the morning includes: putting on my glasses, putting on my robe & slippers, pulling down the covers on the bed to air it, filling the tea kettle with water for my tea, and opening up the blinds in the front of the house. I do these things without even thinking about them because they have become a routine, a habit if you will, that I do first thing in the morning.

You will notice that I do not make my bed as soon as I hop out of it, nor do I get dressed first thing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with making your bed first thing, nor is there anything wrong in getting dressed before you leave your room. On the other hand, there is also nothing wrong with allowing the bedding to air a bit before making it, so long as you DO, eventually, make your bed. In fact, airing the beds was a normal part of the household routine in days past. There is also nothing wrong with waiting to dress until after breakfast, so long as you DO get dressed, preferably before noon! We are a “jammie” family, and we like to gather for breakfast in our jammies. However, if the only way that you can be sure that the bed gets made and you get dressed is to do those things as soon as your feet hit the floor, then that is what you must do. Your morning dailies may be different, but that’s the great thing. They are your morning dailies and no one else’s.

My morning kitchen routine has occurred in the same way. Look back at my daily list. All of the chores listed above appearing in teal text make up my morning kitchen routine. The list looks long, doesn’t it? In reality, all of this takes no longer than 15 minutes to complete and most days note quite that long. I no longer need to refer to my daily list to accomplish it. It has become habit because it is a routine done six days every week. These same sorts of routines and habits will occur for you as well as you begin to make them a part of your daily life.

Other routines will develop over time. My laundry, though it is worked on throughout the day, is still a routine of sorts. As soon as the washer beeps that it is done, I transfer the wet laundry to the dryer, or to the clothes line in the warmer months. If there is another load to be done that day, it is immediately loaded into the machine and the machine is started. When the dryer beeps, it is emptied, the contents folded, and put into baskets for the kids to put away after dinner. My own laundry is folded on top of the dryer and put away when the last load is out.

There are, of course, times when the laundry is left in the washer or dryer for a bit if I cannot leave what I am doing – home schooling, talking with my husband or one of my children, tending to another task about my home that needs to be finished first, etc. – but I try to get to it as soon as possible when the machines finish up. There is no reason to let the dry laundry languish in the dryer until everything is wrinkled, and there is even less reason to pile everything into baskets, or the couch, or bed to be dealt with later. It takes just a very few minutes to fold most loads of laundry. Even the load of whites in my house, from my extra large capacity machine, with all of the undergarments and socks, takes no more than 7 or 8 minutes to fold neatly.

Another routine comes into play late in the day, either as dinner is cooking or right after dinner, and those are all of my evening type chores – checking tomorrow’s menu and calendar, looking over home school work, and so on.

My other dailies are worked into my day as there is time to do them, with the majority being done in the morning. Again, home schooling takes up a large portion of my day, but there are snippets of time in the morning that I can tend to a quick chore (recycling laundry, changing irrigation or water outside, straightening up the living room, loading ingredients into the bread machine, baking, etc.).

If your home is in disorder, some things that might normally take just a few minutes every morning may seem like overwhelming tasks to you at first. If your kitchen has not been tended to regularly, you will not be able to implement a morning kitchen routine that will whip it into shape.

Instead, you’ll need to begin where you are, and work your way out of the hole that you’ve fallen into. The best way I know to do that, without working all day on just your kitchen, is to use your trusty kitchen timer and to work on your kitchen in small increments of time throughout the day until it is back in order. I suggest fifteen minutes at a time, urging yourself to work just as hard and fast as you can for that fifteen minutes. Encourage your kids to jump in and help! You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in that very short time!

More information on using the kitchen timer to bail yourself out of trouble can be found in these two articles:

Part of the tasks listed on my dailies list insures that my living room and bathrooms are clean enough for guests. That does not mean that I dust and thoroughly clean my living room every day, nor does it mean that my bathrooms are thoroughly cleaned every day. What it does mean is this – if a guest were to arrive unexpectedly, my living room would be in good enough order to receive them. The couches would be available for them to sit on, the floors would offer a clear path from door to seating area, there would be no dirty dishes or glasses on the tables, and the room would be relatively clean.

In reality, there might be a toy or two on the floor, but they would not be in an area where a guest would need to walk over them to be seated. In my living room, there would almost certainly be a book or two (or even more!) on the tables, either lying face down and open, or with a book mark sticking out of its pages. If it is winter and a family member has been seated in the living room, there may be an afghan on one end of a couch that was cast aside when the guest entered. And, depending on what day of the week it is, the room may or may not be dust free. If we are using our wood stove, there will probably be some wood debris around the hearth. Not perfect, but yet relatively clean and orderly. Most mornings, my “straighten the living room” daily takes about two minutes.

If my guests need to use the bathroom, I know that just that morning the toilet has been swished with a brush and the counters, faucets and mirrors have been sprayed and wiped dry. The hand towel will have been up no longer than a day or two, and the floor will be swept clean. The tasks that I’ve just mentioned take less than five minutes to accomplish.

My goal is for my home to be comfortably clean, but it will look lived in. I want it to looked lived in! I want my family to be comfortable here; but I also want my guests to feel welcome and to honor my husband by being sure that his home is in relatively decent order.

Again, if your living room and/or bathroom are in want of a good cleaning, you will need to work a bit to get the rooms in decent shape. Bring out the kitchen timer, and do what you can for fifteen minutes once or twice a day until you’ve regained that lost ground. However, once they are back in shape, you should be able to come up with your own list of “dailies” that will keep things looking nice between weekly cleanings and that will take only minutes every day to accomplish.

The weekly maintaining of your home, and the longer term deep cleanings you will give your home, really are made easier by having a list of dailies and keeping up with them. For example, if you make it a practice to straighten your living room every morning, you will never have a huge mess that needs to be picked up and put away before you can get in there to dust and vacuum. Doing the dishes immediately after each meal, and quickly wiping the counters and/or table, means that there is rarely, if ever, a sink full of dirty dishes to be dealt with later, and your kitchen is always ready for you to prepare a meal or snack for your family. A clean, orderly kitchen is very inviting when you get an urge to prepare something yummy for your family! Keeping your bathrooms clean throughout the week makes the task of doing the deeper, weekly cleaning much faster because most everything is already moderately clean.

The dailies are all about developing and maintaining good habits and routines. You must, however, do the work contained in those routines. Nothing I can say, no trick I can give you, can accomplish this for you. You just have to do it!

Time to grab that pen and pad of paper and begin jotting down your own list of dailies! It might be helpful to keep the pad and pen in your apron pocket (you do wear an apron every day, don’t you?) or out on a kitchen counter, or other easily accessible surface as you will be adding things to it all day long. In fact, you will probably continue to add things to your daily list for several days.

Once your list is finished, see if you can begin to notice some of the routines that I mentioned above. If none are readily apparent or part of your day now, begin grouping things together to form some routines for yourself. My morning kitchen routine (see teal text above) is one example. Keep your daily list and your notes about grouping things into routines handy.

You’ll need both when you put your system together later.

For now, begin implementing the “dailies” into your day. Try to group as many things together as you can into routines. Don’t be discouraged if the habit is hard to form, or if you miss a day here and there. However, the more days you have under your belt, the closer you are to making the “dailies”, and their resultant routines, into a habit.

Coming Soon – The Weekly Cleaning Schedule (including those tasks that need to be done less frequently than daily, but more often than weekly)