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A 15-Minute Daily Challenge to Create & Maintain a Clean Home

March 06, 2020 · by Guest Writer

"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not" (Galatians 6:9).

I need to tell you something that Marie Kondo left out: sometimes your home is not going to spark joy for you. It’s just ... not. 

Most of the time (emphasis on most), cleaning your home is absolutely not going to spark joy. Waiting for things to spark joy is being passive in your own life. I’m not here to show you how to have joy in being passive. I’m here to show you how to CREATE joy in your home, to FIND joy in cleaning your home. I’m here to tell you that you absolutely have to show up for this. You 100% have to make this decision every single day.

Bad news? Maybe.

But, here’s the good news: soon, it will become a part of who you are. Implementing this system will soon help bring a special peace to your home which will also make you feel just that -- peaceful. I want your home to be your safe, sacred place, and safe, sacred things deserve to be honored.

Honor your home by keeping it clean.

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This post is set up almost like a recipe blog. If you are anything like me, you don’t read all of the "extra words" on the first few pages on any recipe post. Nope, who has time for that? We all absolutely pick the prettiest Pinterest picture for the recipe we are wanting, and scroll to the very end to find the ingredients we need, how much of each, and the exact details on how to prepare.

I’m asking a simple favor from you. Don’t do that with this post?

We may not care about the time and effort and excitement Susan felt putting that recipe together and into a beautifully worded post. We may not need to feel the inspiration she was pouring out simply to make a delicious pan of Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti. But I'm guessing if you’re here, and you need this post, you’re going to need more than the simple “recipe” at the end. If you must scroll to the end, just promise to come back up to the top and read it in full.

Here we go.

The most common phrase I hear people say goes something like: “Why do I even bother? I feel like I clean my home just for it to get dirty again the next day.”

To me, this is like saying, “Why do I even take a bath?!” Or, “Why do I even bother eating? I’m going to just have to do both again later.” Doesn’t that sound ridiculous? How long does it take to eat, to take a bath? I’m guessing around 15 minutes?

Could you also give your home 15 minutes a day? What if I promised you it would make you feel accomplished, calmer, and happier? Remember, this isn’t just your four walls and roof. I’m not speaking of just your house. I’m talking about your home. Your safe place. The sacred place where all of your memories are made and your babies learn to crawl and take their first steps and you cry your sacred tears in your safe shower and you share your sacred secrets and dreams while cultivating a successful, sacred marriage. That place. So, can you give THAT place 15 minutes a day? Surely so.

You can do anything for 15 minutes. I remember working as a nurse when I reached my third and final consecutive 12-hour shift of that week, I would wake up and think, “I can do anything for a day.” Exhausted, mentally and physically, I knew I could do “anything” for one more day.

Your home isn’t asking for you to slave over it an entire day. It needs 15 minutes.

I wish I could convince you to spend 15 minutes in the morning praying and reading your Bible, or memorizing Scripture. I wish I could convince you to spend 15 minutes sprinting up and down your driveway, breathing in the fresh air and breathing out the stress of the day, while also strengthening your heart and melting off unnecessary weight. I wish I could convince you to spend 15 minutes playing with your kids without distraction, or 15 minutes rocking them before laying them down for the night. I wish I could convince you to make out with your husband for 15 minutes a day. (GASP!)

I’ll save all these things for another post. Today, I want to convince you to spend 15 minutes keeping your home safe, loving, happy, warm, cozy, joyful, comfortable, and you guessed it, clean. You won’t love it at first. You might even hate it. Just know that soon, my sweet friend, soon it will become a part of you. Soon it will be easier and easier to find the joy in it.

Soon you will see that reaping the benefits is worth any and every ounce of effort you put into these 15 minutes a day.

Before I get into the specifics and we formulate a game plan, I want to share with you how I cleaned my home pre-baby. Being a tidy person with a leaning towards constant cleanness (some might call it OCD -- I’ll take it), this was easy and fun for me: every (and I mean EVERY) Saturday morning I would wake up and strip my sheets (I still do that -- more to come) and would put them in the wash. As I pushed start and the timer hit 48 minutes, I would absolutely get myself into gear. I deep-cleaned my entire house in that time. It was a game and an exciting (I know, I’m weird!), fun challenge for me. Sometimes mopping the floor would overlap into the dry time for the sheets, but by the time that was done, so was I.

Hello, relaxing and enjoying my entire Saturday with my husband and a squeaky clean home! I was never a fan of cleaning a little each day. Nope, I loved the HIGH of cramming it and seeing (and smelling) the benefits all at once.

Then, came a precious little gift named Eleanor. A Saturday here and there where it just couldn’t happen. Physically and mentally, I couldn’t cram. She needed me and I needed her. The incomplete job would overlap into other days, and I couldn’t remember what I had done or hadn’t. I would do too much some days and too little even more. Everything felt dirty, and the inconstancy was torture.

Joy, well ... It. Left. The. Building. I felt ... weary in well-doing.

I ended up paying someone to clean my house (which I’m totally FOR, by the way; if you can afford that, you GO!!!! One day I hope I can, too!), and I apologized profusely for how dirty it was. I wanted to clean it for the person cleaning it -- ha!

After she left and I once again evaluated our finances (seeing that -- SHOCKER -- it was not in the budget to do this every week), I decided to make a new game plan. I set a miracle into motion in my home. That might sound excessive to you, but a clean home filled with joy in doing so absolutely felt like a miracle to me in that moment.

Our pastor preached a beautiful message this past Sunday on not growing weary in doing well. Paraphrasing, he pointed out that many times we feel as though doing well is making us weary when often it is a combination of many other things, noise, and busyness that are making us weary. We just end up blaming our exhaustion on the good things. We are too busy doing things that don’t really matter while tricking ourselves into thinking we’re being productive.

For example: You get in bed at 10:00 pm but stay up until 11:30 pm catching up on Instagram. Your alarm goes off at 6:00 am, 30 minutes earlier than normal, because you made a new commitment to read the Word and pray before starting your day each morning. A few days of this routine go by and you become ... weary. Getting up that early suddenly feels ... just not worth it. You’re exhausted. So, you quit.

Did you ever stop to assess what was actually making you exhausted, what made you weary? Could it be YouTube and social media stealing the extra 30 minutes your body is begging for, not the alarm that went off 30 minutes earlier?

If spending 15 minutes a day bettering your home causes you to be weary, I simply ask of you to do a genuine, honest self-assessment on what truly is causing your weariness. It may be necessary to cut some (not-inherently-bad, but not-helping-you-achieve-your-goals) things out in this current season of life.

I used to find myself bothered by those who made sideways comments about my love of a clean home with comments like, “Do you even live in your home?” or “Just wait until you have kids.”

I have learned, though, that most people who are negative or pessimistic about those with clean homes only do so as a defense mechanism.

They insist you can only keep up because you don’t have three kids and two dogs or a full-time job across town. Here’s what I’ve discovered about these people: they were more than likely a little on the messy side themselves BEFORE having the three kids and a dog. If this is you, I ask for you to evaluate yourself.

Are you too busy, truly? Or is it in your nature to use these excuses because you’ve simply always used an excuse?

We absolutely live in our home. We enjoy our home. We kick off our shoes, use every blanket, pull out Eleanor’s toys and have a blast. I bake and cook with everything laid out and laugh when Eleanor throws the slices of watermelon I give her onto the floor after gagging out the new texture. We make messes.

The difference? We clean them up. I appreciate everything I have in this home, and my actions show that by me putting everything back in its proper place.

I never leave my home a mess, and this allows my home to be my safe haven. I breathe a happy sigh of relief every time I walk back through my front door.

My home is my GIFT, not my burden. Let me help you make it yours, too!

Okay, I think we’re ready. First, a little bit in-depth. Then, finally, the “recipe.” I ask you to remember this is what works for me as you read. Feel free to tweak as needed. I would love nothing more for you to improve on this and make it BETTER.

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My Weekly Schedule:

Monday: Rest/relax ... (you're liking this already) with a side of laundry. Don’t stress! Just a small load or two of the weekend’s clothes. Usually your church clothes need to be washed on gentle, anyway! Throw the load in the wash, and cuddle with your family or make dinner. When it is done, put it away! Say this after me: “This. Is. Not. A. Big. Deal.” Bring your kiddo into the room with you and let her play on the bed while you fold or hang them up. It doesn’t have to take away from family time -- at all!

Tuesday: Windex/dust. Yes, this includes the glass on picture frames. Yes, this means you pick up whatever is on your dresser and dust under it ... not just around. You can sing as you work and take your time ... or you can get this done in under 15 minutes. Here’s a little trick I use. Call me weird if you want; it works. Every Tuesday, I put a mug of water in the microwave for five minutes to easily wipe it out when it’s finished. When that five minute timer starts, I get busy. I can get my entire home (including three large bathroom mirrors) windexed within this timeframe. Yep, you can too. Then, I dust! That’s it!

Wednesday: Bathrooms! But remember, this isn’t stressful and won’t take long. You’ve already cleaned your countertops (see below for everyday chores), and you did your mirrors yesterday. All you have to clean is the toilet and shower/bath. I also wash my towels, hand towels, and washcloths on this day, because I usually use them to scrub the bathtub or something of the sort. Up to you!

Thursday: Vacuum rugs/Swiffer. Again, take your time ... or get it done! This can absolutely be done in under 15 minutes. Wear your baby or do it while she plays or naps. Repeat after me: “This. Is. Not. A. Big. Deal.”

Friday: Mop and kick out the week’s worth of laundry! Get your laundry going before mopping your floors. When it’s done, put it away. It’s not complicated. You CAN do this. This may seem like a lot for a Friday when all you want to do is rest. But I promise it’s worth it, because Saturday is coming.

Saturday: Wash your sheets -- as soon as you wake up, before coffee! Strip your bed and toss them in the wash. That’s it! Rest, hang out with your family, and enjoy your day! Falling asleep on Saturday night with fresh sheets on the bed is literally a highlight of my week -- ha!

Sunday: Jesus and family ... and nap. That’s it.

Isn’t this doable? More than possible? It absolutely is. Keep reading.

Everyday Chores + Tips & Tricks:

Make your bed. Every morning. You’re an adult; there is no excuse.

Wipe bathroom countertops. Here’s a favorite tip of mine: We keep disinfectant wipes in all three of our bathroom cabinets. After we get ready, we pull one out, wipe it down, and throw it away in our kitchen trashcan on the way out the door. How easy is that? My sweet husband happily obliges and it has helped our home feel “clean” throughout the whole week. Seventh Generation and Ever Spring at Target are great alternatives to Clorox Wipes.

Wipe kitchen countertops. I do this after making dinner every single evening. I buy a pretty cleaner that looks nice sitting out by the sink, and voila! I never forget! Spray it down, and give it one good wipe through with a paper towel or two. I’m loving the Home & Planet brand (Veviter & Tea Tree). It looks pretty sitting by my sink and leaves my kitchen smelling awesome. This includes stovetop and sink.

PUT. DISHES. AWAY. Always. No excuse. Eat your meal, and enjoy it. Then CLEAN UP after yourself. You are an adult. You are capable of spending 5 minutes rinsing off dishes and putting them away. We run our dishwasher every other day.

Don’t go to sleep with random things sitting out. Fold the blanket, put the shoes where they belong, throw the trash away, put the homework in their backpacks, put the toys in the basket. Use Dave Ramsey’s snowball method: start in the room that is already the tidiest and knock it out. Work downhill from there! You’ll feel more and more accomplished with each room.

Allow your home to be a gift to you, not a burden. 

If you wake up to a mess, you wake up to anxiety and feeling behind. If you come home from a stressful job to a mess, you come home to feeling defeated instead of rewarded. It’s not worth it.

Create and cultivate your safe, warm, happy, joyful, cozy, clean home.

Do not grow weary in doing well.

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Kelli McCool serves alongside her husband, Anthony, as student pastor at FAC Knoxville. She is a registered nurse and is also blessed to teach at Apostolic Christian School. Her newest and most cherished title at the moment is "mama" to her little girl, Eleanor. Kelli prays her writings of personal lessons and thoughts will unify and encourage other Apostolic ladies. Find more of her writings at kellimccool.org. Connect with her at @kelli.danielle.

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