Keep calm and carry on

11 February 2020
Not many of us really enjoy housework. I love being in my home but if I look at housework as one big thing - washing, cleaning, cooking, baking, gardening, maintenance, mending etc. - it can be overwhelming and I don't know where to start. My best advice is to organise yourself and do things ahead of time. Most of us don't do all our housework in one day. We organise smaller chunks of work and spread it out over a week, or a weekend with small chores morning and evening. When you organise your work into chunks and do it at the same time each week or day, that's a routine and it usually makes it easier.

Here is our tea and coffee station.  It's right next to the electric kettle, with cups and mugs in a cupboard above. If you have hot drinks fairly frequently, it sensible to keep all your things together.



The Keep Calm and Carry On idea came from Britain before and during WW2 and it's helpful to remember it now too. Relaxed order in my home makes me calmer and happier. My routines are weekly - which change with the times - and if I stick to those changeable routines, I get through my work without rushing and usually get it all done. If I don't, I don't care. The chance to do it all again will present itself a second time tomorrow or the next day. Living in a clean and tidy home gives all of us the opportunity to start each day rested, well-fed and with the knowledge that we'll be returning to a calm home after work or school. It also gives structure and stability to those of us who work at home.  

Hanno and I bought this pine dresser about 40 years ago to store some of our crockery. 

If you're struggling with housework, don't think of your work as drudgery or a waste of time. You'll develop a mindset of productivity and progress at home if you think of it as fluffing your nest and making your home feel comfortable. You might find housework easier if you develop a routine. To do that, make up a realistic list of the work you have to do in a week, divide it up into days, giving every person in the house responsibility for certain tasks, then decide when the work will be done.  You might have a couple of big days when you do the laundry and the shopping and you might get someone to help you with cleaning and batch cooking. The work is not all yours and your partner's. Show all the kids how to make their beds, organise their clothes, both dirty and clean, and then expect their beds and clothes to be taken care of without too much input from you. Although you'll have to supervise this when they start. No matter how you divide the chores, it's only your job alone if you live alone. If you have a family, they should do their fair share. Start them young and they'll grow up being able to look after themselves, a definite bonus.

This sofa is so comfortable. Often when Kerry or Jamie come over, they'll have a quick nap here.

If you're struggling to start, set a timer and work on something for 15 minutes. Then sit down and have a tea or coffee or walk around the garden.  Even an untidy kitchen with dirty pots and pans could be cleaned up in two 15 minute sessions. When you clean up the whole house, and that might take a couple of days, keep on top of it with a routine that works for you. I promise you, when you have a clean and organised home, it will support you and your family in all the fun and interesting things you want to do.

Here I have things we need when we go out - Gracie's harness and leads, bags, hats and keys. Organise yourself and everyone else so you're not constantly looking for what you need.

Our lives are a continuing process of reorganisation. There are many ways of living simply and sustainably but if you work calmly and don't let the house become chaotic, you'll benefit from it. It's up to each of us to choose how we work in our homes, create routines that work, and change them when we need to.  We put time and effort into housework, but it will give back more than it takes.


30 comments

  1. Good suggestions! I use music to help me with my chores; usually stuff from the 70's [one of my eras]. At 65, I find it difficult to clean my whole apartment in one go without at least 2 breaks. I used to get frustrated; but with the music and a tea 'n' bickie break (or two), it's not such a difficult task. AND the result is such a great reward; I find having a clean, organized house brings me a great deal of satisfaction.

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  2. Your house always looks so clean and comfortable. I love the pillows that you made. You always inspire me to do more housework.

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  3. I use audio books to make a task easier. I find it makes cleaning a kitchen or ironing into an entertaining time. The problem is in motivating myself to pick one and start. I use a timer/alarm to remind me to start. This morning I have an alarm set to make sure I slice up the zucchini for the dehydrator. Crazy but it works for me.

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  4. I realised at the end of last year that the way I was doing the housework was not working for me - everything all in one day. Like you suggest, I have now broken it down into to smaller tasks and do a little bit on every weekday - mornings are best for me. It now means that my weekends are housework free days which I am loving. It has definitely changed my mindset about my home and housework, better still if I need to have a day off for whatever reason it no longer matters.

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    1. That sounds like a very good change and it made you think differently about your home and housework which is a real bonus. xx

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  5. thanks for this post - I wondered if it may have been to help me a little in the comment I left recently about adult sons who don't keep their rooms clean! I will try to follow your advice here and have a good routine so things don't get too overly intense/important:) This weekend I cleared our garage and got the men to bring down some old patterned rugs from the loft, it's nice to change things around and when I put things away for a while I see them like new again when they return! Since I left my comment the boys are now doing their own laundry - so we have progress! and a little spare time for me to read a book and feel less stressed :)

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    1. Hello Betty. I remembered your sons but it was really just a general reminder to equip children for later life as they're growing up. I'm so pleased to know your sons have taken responsibility for their own laundry. I hope they're ironing too. xx

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  6. Yes, I need to do some reorganizing. Love your tea/coffee station idea.

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  7. So agree with you in this Ronda. We live permanently on the road in our Kedron Caravan here in Australia.

    As soon as we get out of bed in the morning Hubby and I make the bed together. If we are changing the sheets we strip the bed and make it with clean fresh sheets rights away. It sets the scene for the day and keeps the van tidy.

    Whoever cooks, washes up afterwards and puts everything away. Hubby normally cooks breakfast, I do dinner and one of us will do a snack type thing in between. Even after having coffee or tea, we wash up and put away.

    This routine and mindset keeps our small space looking clean and tidy and makes it a pleasure to be in it.

    I so enjoy your blog Ronda. All the best to you both.

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    1. I just clicked to see your blog. It is absolutely amazing, inspiring and adorable. I'm so sorry to see you've stopped posting!

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  8. What a charming blog you have. I noticed it on another friend's blog. I love how you hang your tea cups. I am a collector of tea cups, and have different ones in my cupboard. Love that rooster on your Header. My sister had a couple roosters where she lived, and they always greeted her in the morning. : )

    ~Sheri

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  9. Your home is so pleasant-looking, Rhonda. This post is so true! It's much better when you can break up the work into "pieces" or sections.

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  10. I've FINALLY realised the benefits of setting particular tasks to a day and sticking to the routine. It makes housework so much more manageable, particularly with young kids around. I also LOVE listening to a podcast while I do a job, whether it's folding washing or mopping the floors. Listening to a story or interview makes the process go much quicker. x

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  11. I just found your blog last week when it was mentioned in a group I belong to. I read your posts back to January2019. I enjoyed them very much. I am 64 and it is just my husband and I. Our son and daughter each have families of their own.
    I look forward to your new posts and plan on reading more older ones. I have been frugal most of my life.

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    1. Welcome Flora. I hope you enjoy the reading.

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  12. I absolutely love listening to podcasts when I’m cleaning, especially the less desirable jobs (which for me is bathrooms and ironing 😩) also I follow a couple of YouTube channels that are more like a podcast, as the hostess is usually just sitting and talking in front of the camera, it’s a bit like a podcast except you can see them. They really pass the time, and I barely notice the task at hand.

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  13. Really, you inspire me every day, Rhonda.
    Your house is so nice, that we want to follow your advice.
    Thank you.

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  14. Your home looks welcoming Rhonda. Ours is definitely not minimalist but I am trying to keep to a loose routine with all the regular jobs and trying hard to enjoy the moment if lovely company turns up etc, as time is marching on evermore quickly, the housework can be caught up another time.I'm also 'making' time for embroidery and knitting otherwise it's too easy to just keep doing housework! Thanks for the lovely reminders to enjoy all the aspects of each day and having a home.

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  15. I am more relaxed when my house is clean and tidy. I do something different each day to keep my home the way I like it. I also look at what is going on and what can be left to another day. We are getting solar installed today. The men have needed to come in a couple of times. My white floor tiles can have a vac and mop when they are finished. No need to do it till they are finished. I like what I have read in your book, that housework never ends. As a result it doesn't matter if the house isn't spotless 100% of the time.

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  16. I have said several times that I truly struggle with housework. I do try to stick to a routine. If I could get on top of stuff I would have more time to do what I would like to do. Today has been a funny old day. As my mother's carer I am losing a lot of sleep. Last night it was midnight to five a.m. I had to be at my daughter's at seven as I watch my grand baby too. Fortunately the little one had a two and a half hour nap and her granny had a two hour nap. But these weird and whacky hours are taking a toll on me and the house.

    Thank you for your constant inspiration.

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    1. Suzan-I'm sorry for your difficulties. Obviously, if you are caring for your mother, that is your priority, not housework. I pray that you are able to get some support so that you can take care of yourself too. May God bless and keep you.
      daisy in Pumpkin Center, NC USA

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  17. I love your tea and coffe station idea, sounds (and looks) very cosy. Tea/coffee breaks are very lovely, and important, during the day. We keep our tea/coffee things in a little cupboard above the coffee perculator. As my health is poor, I can't vaccum or wash floors anymore, but my husband steps in and helps me. My energy and pain levels vary from day to day, but I always try to keep a clean kitchen and the laundry under control. I hate clutter, someone called me a "magnet" as I'm always picking up things that aren't in their correct place. That way, things never get overwhelming, even without the routines, as I'm always pottering quietly along at my own pace. Take care, Pam in Norway

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  18. I think I remember you writing once Rhonda that although we may not like housework...we like the results of housework. Organisation, cleanliness, and a peaceful home. I have certainly embraced that and remembered it when I don't feel like doing certain things.

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  19. I have a cleaning rota. Most jobs are done daily and as needed to be done, but it's those little 'out of sight, out of mind' jobs. Monthly jobs are to empty kitchen cupboards, clean and restock neatly, occasionally discarding anything unused or cracked. Wardrobe tops are dust magnets! skirting boards, curtain tracks etc etc. Best, Jane x

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  20. The routine I've had for years still works. There are certain days that I do certain jobs, for instance, Mondays are bathroom cleaning days. Just having a task list in my mind takes any pressure off. Our home is relatively small, and that makes me love it even more. Less time cleaning means more time for other things. I believe that keeping a tidy home expresses the gratitude for the blessings we've been given. We'd get along just fine, you and I. ;0D

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  21. I learned to do housework in small spurts a few years ago when I injured my back & was healing. You can get a lot accomplished in 5 or 10 minutes.

    I also learned that if nothing else gets done with housework I try to never go to bed without cleaning my kitchen. My morning & evening routines go such a long way to keeping up with my housework.

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  22. I have a little routine that I have been doing for years, that works really well for me.
    It is a morning routine, and I have other routines throughout the week and also a monthly routines. My morning routine is:
    - make the bed
    - empty the bins
    - do the breakfast dishes
    - Clean the toilet
    - Change the tea towel
    - What's for tea?
    It is really easy to do and I know that whatever the day brings, the basics have been done. After I finish this routine, I then do my daily "what to clean today" task and also any monthly tasks due that day. If I don't get any other job done after the basics, my home still functions well, and I feel confident should anyone call in for a visit, even early in the day.

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  23. I have to do my housework in smaller spurts since having heart surgery, but since I work full time this is much more manageable for me. I love housework...I like to be busy and I listen to podcasts while I work. Your dishes with the small flowers are absolutely gorgeous! What is that pattern called?

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    1. Hi Mandy. It sounds like you're managing well since your surgery. You've already named the pattern on my dinner set - it's Petit Fleur. πŸ™‚

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  24. I LOVE THE BIG BLUE CUPS/MUGS YOU HAVE, I HAVE ONES LIKE THESE THAT BELONGED TO MY FATHER, THEY MUST BE ABOUT 80 YEARS OLD!

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