making it home :: starting your housekeeping routine, the daily list

Boston.com Community: We are running an updated version of this post in early November. Check back if you're looking for more guidance on how to start house cleaning in an organized, manageable, and enjoyable way!

We're back to Home Comforts,** and I'm particularly excited about this post because I've had quite a bit of time to work on it. You won't be getting a week's worth of experience but rather a couple of months!

Let's review a bit of what we've learned from previous posts, primarily why she suggests establishing a routine:
I can't agree more! A routine gives an outline for the attainable. Since establishing a routine, I finish each day with that sense of accomplishment, particularly if other daily requirements permit me to spend the time saved on something I enjoy like reading, blog stuff, etc. To sum up the entire approach, a routine gives the homemaker the ability to accomplish real tasks and see real results--thereby enjoying a clean home and moving on to other enjoyable activities.

Ms. Mendelson offers Daily, Weekly, Monthly/Seasonally/Intermittently, and Semiannually/Annually lists of activities. I have only attempted the Daily and Weekly thus far, and we'll start with the Daily today. 

Here are the steps I took in starting my housekeeping routine:

Step One: Try the Routine She Suggests
There are times I think it's good to look over and pare something down to my needs, but when it comes to housekeeping -- something totally new to me -- I found it most helpful to just try what she suggests and see what works and what doesn't, as she encourages.

Let's start with the Daily routine*, page 21:
I knew a few things:

  1. I would need a good 3 weeks of living by this routine before I could determine what was and wasn't working for me. 
  2. I need the list to be visible so as to constantly remind me
  3. I had to make it my own, visually and physically

So I did the following:

  1. I gave three full weeks to her method and then reevaluated. I started by copying her full list (see above) and hanging it in our kitchen, our most visited room in the house. 
  2. I ordered the tasks from the top of the house to the bottom (our bedroom is upstairs and most of the crazy kid stuff is on the mid and lowest levels).
  3. I gave each task a one-word, quick check reminder, followed by a more detailed explanation. This helps me glance at it and recall whether or not I've completed it.
  4. I printed it out in pleasant colors (I've since changed them, but more on that in another post) and hung it on a clipboard in our backstairs hallway.
  5. I added kids specifically because cleaning toys, trays, etc., is a unique activity of its own.
  6. I adjusted a few words like down slide instead of hamper since we have a laundry shoot.
  7. I gave an ordered list of how to clean up afterwards from meals so that if anyone else checks it out, like when Obie arrives and I'm not cleaning up as much myself.
Here's my revised list after completing the above:
Bed: Make the bed
Clothes: Put soiled clothes down slide & hang up other clothes
Sinks: Clean sinks & tubs after use (including drains and traps)
Supplies: Check soap, toilet paper, other supplies in bathroom
Meals: Prepare meals and clean up afterward (dishes, wipe table, wipe counters, wipe stove)
Floors: Sweep kitchen, dining room, and entryway floors
Neaten: LR at the start of each sleep time
Kids: Clean chair; clean bottles nightly

Thus far, this daily routine really works for me. I like how the list looks, where it is located, the level of detail and at-a-glance it offers, and most of all, how it helps me keep the house ordered through completely manageable, defined tasks.

If you're joining me in starting from scratch with housekeeping, I know you'll find Ms. Mendelson's text the most helpful. Even checking it out from the library is worth it, and I'm only through the first 3 chapters:)

Have a lovely Thursday, friends!


*NOTE: I am only speaking of the daily task list in this post, but in reality I did both the daily and weekly together, which definitely makes it easier to figure out what works and what doesn't. But for the sake of brevity...

*I am not being perked, paid, or praised for reviewing this text. I wish. This series came from my own lack of experience and the euphoric sense of direction and possibility I found in reading Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. (thanks again, joyce, for this sweet housewarming gift!)


  1. I like and hate this making it home section...kind of how I felt about the book A Mother's Rule of Life (think Home Comforts meets St Benedict). Ha! I love the ideas you present but honestly don't know how I would get even half these things done in a day with my kiddos. I'd love to chat with you more about your experiences...too bad we both have sick babies :) Hugs to all four of you!@

  2. you should feel so proud. i am actually giving this a try starting today. monday's efforts--i feel like despite using every spare moment the only thing that's clean is the kitchen and I hardly played with my kids at all. does this get easier? :) thanks for the ideas though; I need help!

  3. Jen, YES it totally gets easier. Give yourself a good 3 weeks of trying it out before you even consider evaluating your success. And even after 3 weeks, I asked, "Is this making things easier to accomplish and less stressful for me?" rather than, "Am I succeeding?" Then I was able to adjust the activities for my own schedule.

    For example, she suggests doing laundry on Mondays and "marketing" (groceries) on Thursdays. The Thursday thing didn't work out for me for a number of reasons, so I moved it to Tuesdays. I'm not loving Tuesdays right now so I'm thinking of changing it again.

    Laundry I keep on Mondays because it WORKS. It gives me the weekend off and I know that Hawk will have white shirts on Tuesday and the chaos of weekend clothes won't set-stains.

    I also have the Mothers Rule of Life!!! Let's definitely chat really soon about this, because I am honestly finding it so helpful and I'm no longer worried about how to handle things when Obie arrives...

    love ya,


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