coming clean

If you're like most people, you consider a reasonably clean home to be one of life's essentials. So with limited time available, why devote any more of it to a house cleaning schedule than is absolutely necessary?

You can get the essential chores on your cleaning list done each week, and still have time to savor your weekends. Part of the secret lies in breaking down your house cleaning schedule into smaller, more manageable tasks. The rest of the secret lies in enlisting everyone in the family to help get everything on the cleaning list done.

Having the troops pitch in is an important part of getting it all done in the allotted time.

Give every member of your family a cleaning list. And if the results aren't perfect, well, that's just the way things are. Let them be.

Sharing the load is as important for others as it is for you. If you've found that you're constantly doing all the work yourself, then the time has come to pass the mop. If you constantly pick up after your children, they won't learn the basic cleaning skills they'll need as adults.

While the time you spend initially in cajoling extra helpers and showing them the ropes may seem like more trouble than it's worth, you'll soon find that delegating has its benefits. You'll not only buy yourself free time, you'll also eliminate the nagging resentment you may feel toward other family members who aren't pulling their weight.

Your children will benefit by learning responsibility - which will make then good little guests who are sure to be invited back to friends' homes. 

When to clean? If weekends around the house are when the troops gather, that's the perfect time to rally them. Give each person a cleaning list and allow an hour for everyone to complete the tasks.

If, however, weekends are on-the-go times for the family, post a house cleaning schedule on the refrigerator with a cleaning list for each person's chores for the morning, after school, and evening.

It is possible to have a clean home and time to enjoy it with family and friends. In order to get the freedom to truly enjoy your leisure time, do your cleaning in spurts during the week instead of all on a weekend. Break down big jobs, such as cleaning the bathroom, into smaller tasks: Wipe down the sink now; clean the bathtub and mop the floor later.

When it is time to tackle the room's other surfaces, you'll be ahead of the cleaning game. Any job seems overwhelming if you can't compartmentalize it - and house cleaning is no exception. 

Even if you abhor a vacuum (or a broom or a mop), you can do it right - and fast. The cleaning tips and strategies below can help you quickly clean your home - and get the kids to pitch in, too. 

Coming Clean: Solutions & strategies

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