There’s nothing like the feeling of having the whole house clean all at once. But these days, who has the time for such a consuming job?
You can still enjoy the benefits of refreshment that come with a big cleaning by engaging in quick fifteen-minute tasks (and indulgences). By doing one each day, you’ll arrive at the end of a month experiencing the same satisfaction as if you would have spent hours; and you won’t be wiped out by the process. Instead, you should feel invigorated!
Here are enough ideas to fill a month and get you started, or swap in a few of your own.
Refresh Your Self
1 Polish your fingernails. Once you’re done you can combine this with number five (sit with your feet up) while your nails dry. Short on time? Focus on just cleaning off any old polish and trimming your nails. Even that little bit can give your hands a fresh feel.
2 Take a brisk walk around the block or at a nearby park. Put your kids on a bike (or in a wagon or stroller) and you can all benefit.
3 Place a hold at the library on that book you’ve been meaning to read. Don’t have any titles in mind? Browse through Goodreads for recommendations and create a list for the future by tagging the interesting ones as “to read.”
4 Dive into your favorite magazine. Clip out any recipes you want to try or fold over pages containing decorating tips and other ideas you want to come back to.
5. Sit with your feet up and rest. If you’re alone or the children are safely occupied, close your eyes and rest for a little while. (You may want to set an alarm, just in case.)
Revitalize Your Spouse
6. Leave your spouse a suggestive voicemail on his cell phone or text the same message (prefaced by the warning: “For Your Eyes Only”).
7. Go online and order a fancy massage lotion for your next date night.
8. Surprise them by giving their car a quick clean up. Take any extra time to run a vacuum over the floor mats.
9. Do some extra tidying in the master bedroom to make it extra inviting or relaxing. Put out a candle for soft lighting, and freshen up the bedsheets.
Fortify Your Kids
10. Read a board book or a chapter to your child from a new or untouched book.
11. Weed out last season’s clothes from one child’s drawers. Tackle one drawer at a time, until time runs out.
12. Write notes to put in your kids’ lunches. Try to write up a few to sprinkle in for each child throughout the week.
13. Challenge your child to a quick round of their favorite game. Or, you can spontaneously join them in playing Legos, Squinkies, or another activity they enjoy, as well.
Restore Your Kitchen
14. Wipe down the range hood and inside of the microwave. Use any extra time to degrease the handles on the fridge and microwave.
15. Plan your meals for the week, including when you might have to/get to eat out.
16. Mix up a batch of brownies. Do this when you’ll be home while they bake.
17. Sort leftover food and expired condiments to toss from your refrigerator. Keep a wastebasket nearby and make tossing part of the process. When you’re done, wipe down a shelf or two. Come back later for another fifteen minutes to wipe out more of the fridge.
18. Sweep the kitchen and shake out the rugs. Better yet, toss those rugs in the washing machine for a quick wash cycle to spruce them up.
Invigorate Your Family & Friends
19. Call a friend to schedule a coffee date. Then, keep it! No rain-checks allowed.
20. Text a different friend to tell her one thing you think she rocks at.
21. Write a thank you note to someone for a recent act of kindness.
22. Phone your mom/grandma/favorite aunt to tell her you love her.
23. Jot a list of fun memories about someone special on fancy stationery; then mail it to them.
Enliven Your Calendar/To-Do List
24. Make a list of errands to be done in the coming week/month. Pick a day to focus on those errands and schedule it like you would an appointment. Guilt be gone!
25. Schedule that appointment you’ve been avoiding. While you’re at it, make sure you have up-to-date appointments for everyone else in the family for things like haircuts, dentist, eye doctor, and physical exams.
26. Brainstorm a destination for your next family outing or vacation. Check out a travel site for reviews and hot spots to stay or visit there.
27. Upload photos from your camera (while technically not a calendar item, it’s one that’s always on our “to do” lists). Browse through and delete any poor shots or ones you know you won’t use. Recharge the camera battery so it’s ready for the next event you want to capture.
Perk Up Your Household
28. Dust a room or two. Use a feather duster and see if you can get through three or four rooms.
29. Pull out decorations for the next holiday or season. Purge anything worn out or dated or that you don’t like any more. If you’ve got the time, go ahead and decorate.
30. Clean up the crumbs and garbage out of your own car.
31. Clean the dog bowls/fish tank/kitty litter. Don’t have any? Your work is done!
Celebrate your month of refreshment by taking a day to revisit some of the more restorative activities or to engage in a few you’d like to give more attention to. Keep this list and refer to it several times a year when you, your home, or your kids, are starting to sag. Make note of the one or two refreshers that could work as a regular pick-me-up.
And while you won’t have the whole house clean all at once, you will benefit from a sense of accomplishment and ongoing revitalization that just may spur you to tackle the bigger task of a top-to-bottom overhaul later on.