Home and garden maintenance is never top of anyone’s list of things to do. Having to care for your home and outdoor spaces might sound like a wonderful thing that allows you to nourish your environment in a loving way, but there’s not a busy parent on the planet who hasn’t sometimes wished their abode could just take care of itself… for a little while, at least.
While self-cleaning and automatic homes and gardens aren’t quite a reality yet, there are a few things you can do to make your housekeeping, garden-keeping, and general maintenance of your home as simple as possible. If you ensure you always have the following, then you’ll never stray too far from the course of functional housekeeping…
Essential #1: Housework help
First and foremost, if you’re going to stand any chance of keeping a home in good condition, you’re going to need help. We’ve talked before about how to encourage your children to assist you, but don’t forget to remind your partner too. Women still do most of the housework in modern relationships, so if you’re concerned by an imbalance in this regard with your partner, it’s worth asking them to input more if you feel you need it.
Essential #2: A basic cleaning kit
There’s always room to add more products to your cleaning kit, of course— but a good, solid set of basics is a must. Here’s what you need to keep in it:
- Rubber gloves
- Baking soda
- White vinegar
- Citric acid
- Clean cloths (and preferably microfiber cloths)
You won’t be able to clean everything in your home with the above inexpensive items alone, but you should be able to get pretty close. It’s always worth having a go with these items first, and choose to spend on specialist cleaning products only if these fail.
It’s also worth noting that most of the products listed above can be used for outdoor cleaning and maintenance applications too. Bicarb, for example, has a wealth of different uses in the garden, so you’re definitely going to ensure you always have plenty on hand!
#3: Clear, unbiased advice
It’s natural that, on occasion, you will find yourself confronted with a housekeeping task that you’re unsure of. None of us are born with an innate ability to know how to manage our homes, after all!
However, when you find yourself in need of advice, you have to be very careful where you look for it. Often, “advice” is actually “advertising or marketing spin that is disguised as advice”. As a result, always try and source advice from unbiased sources, blogs such as Yard and Garage and online communities where users are able to share their own feedback and experience. If you look for advice from companies, then there is every chance they will just choose to sell to you rather than actively help you— and when this occurs, you’re unlikely to find the answers you truly need.
#4: Dedicated timers and reminders for multi-step tasks
What are multi-step tasks? Anything related to the house or garden that has more than one step, and a delay is required between each step. Here’s a few examples to give you an idea:
- Washing clothes comprises of the following steps: sorting, washing, drying, ironing, returning to wardrobes and drawers.
- Cleaning dishes in a dishwasher involves the following steps: rinsing, washing, and finally restacking items in the cupboard or storage area.
- Planting a new flower bed may involve the following steps if growing from seed: nurturing seedlings indoors, preparing the flower bed, planting out, feeding and nourishing, and finally pruning.
Multi-step tasks can be terribly time-consuming if you don’t keep them on a tight leash. It’s important to try and tackle these tasks head on, with each step starting the moment the step before it finishes. For example, the moment your washer finishes its cycle is the moment you should be beginning to hang the clothes out to try. This helps to eliminate gaps between steps of a cycle, which should make your overall regime far more efficient.
When you start one step of a task, set a timer or — for longer tasks, such as those related to gardening — a diary reminder. These timers and reminders help to ensure that you are able to return to a task the moment one step of it concludes, rather than a few hours (or days) delay slowing down the entire process. If you implement a thorough system of timers for all multi-step processes, you’ll be shocked at how much more efficient your approach to house and garden tasks will be.
#5: A dedicated calendar
When it comes to managing your home and garden, many of the tasks you have to engage in are only sporadically necessary.
Some tasks are constant; you will always need to ensure that your plants are watered, and you’ll want to clean your kitchen sink or bathroom tiles every day. On the other hand, some tasks don’t need to be done on a regular basis. For example, you only need to snake your drains every few months, and heading into the garden to clear up fallen leaves is only necessary for a few weeks out of the year.
Balancing the occasional, sporadic tasks with your regular household and garden maintenance tasks is difficult— unless you use a dedicated calendar to effectively plan your schedule. Start your calendar by placing seasonal activities (for example, planting seeds in your garden in springtime), then add in other important-but-only-occasional tasks. Finally, add in tasks you want to do on a near-daily basis, and before you know it, you’ll have a well-organized calendar that ensures you never forget an important task at any point in the year.
A few words to conclude…
You have probably noticed that there are only five essentials above, and we promised six. There’s a reason for that: the final tip is more of a conclusion, an important thing that you need to remember. This tip is simply: be kind to yourself. You can’t do everything, and no one in your life expects you to have a perfect home 100% of the time. Do what you can and what you’re comfortable with; this, ultimately, matters far more than striving for a convoluted sense of “perfection”.
Keep the above essentials in mind and you’ll be able to manage your home and garden better than ever before. Good luck!