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Set a Cleaning Timer

Being 7 months pregnant, working full-time, with a 5-year-old, a 7-year-old, and a husband overseas, energy is at a premium. I just don't have the energy to do long bursts of cleaning. What has worked for me is setting a kitchen timer. My usual is work for 10 minutes, rest for 10 minutes. The timer on the stove or microwave is even better, because I have to get up to turn it off. I can't just ignore it and take a longer rest period.


I also use waiting time during fixing dinner (waiting for water to boil, waiting for oven to heat) to tidy around the kitchen.

In addition, I get the kids in on the act by setting a nightly pick-up timer (I use 5 minutes for them) and having them pick up their stuff. Putting clothes in the hamper is excluded from 5-Minute Pick-Up Time, as are putting away dishes and putting away clothes. Those are separate chores that must be done as well. Sometimes I'll skip the timer and just have them pick up while I make their lunches for the next day.

Another thing I do to save my sanity is doing all the thorough cleaning at the first of the month. That helps me remember to do it. This includes cleaning the coffee pot, microwave, dishwasher and fridge, mopping the kitchen floor, washing the blankets and shower curtain, and cleaning the toilet.

By Camilla North from Atchison, KS

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September 18, 20090 found this helpful
Top Comment

Camilla, you should check out the FlyLady! www.flylady.net She does the timer thing too but there's more to her system that is just wonderful! :)

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September 17, 20090 found this helpful

I love timers for a lot of reasons as well as the one's you've listed. I wasn't organized until I was in my 50's and I have a lot of hobbies. I get distracted and try to remember to set the timer when I've put the stove on, for things like boiling water for tea, etc.


I do it to encourage myself to start a task. To not overwork, which takes the joy out of life. On the other hand, messiness does too; hence the timer. It helps for balance.

You sound like an old fashioned /new fashioned mother. Brave and full of common sense.

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September 19, 20090 found this helpful

What a fantastic suggestion - especially for time @ the computer, for me! 5 minutes invaribly turns into 30 before I know it! And, if the timer tells me to work for 10 minutes I will probably do what the timer says - just like, when my boys were little . . . I would tell them that when the big hand was on the 12 it was time for bed and they didn't argue, because it was the clock telling them, not Mom or Dad. Best of luck w/ the new baby and tell your d/h "Thank you".

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September 19, 20090 found this helpful

I also use a time system. My sister, who is more organized than me, assigns minutes to a particular task. That way you don't get overwhelmed about having to vacuum, for instance, when you know it only takes 5 min.


tops for each room. I use a "pocket of time" system. Even having to wait 30 sec. can turn into a "pocket of time" and I can use those 30 sec. to wipe the counters, etc.

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