I have started the new year with a renewed approach to cleaning. I’m calling it Microcleaning. What am I talking about?
Micro is a Greek prefix that means small. So, what I mean is that I’m working on doing very small cleaning tasks. Between needing to spend most of my energy teaching my kids and my health issues, I do not have the time or energy for big, macro-cleaning days. Neither the mind nor the body are willing and able to commit to cleaning a whole room, much less the whole house in a single day. It isn’t practical for me.
Instead, I am focusing on things I can do in short spurts of time. I have classified my microcleaning tasks into two types. Type one is “itsy-bitsy jobs that always need to be done”. Type two is “beautification cleaning”.
Keeping your house clean, includes a never-ending list of tasks that people frequently break into large groups. Clean the bathroom. Clean the kitchen. Vacuum the main floor. However, all of those cleaning activities are made up of many smaller tasks. Microcleaning tasks, some might say.
My goal is to pair a microcleaning task with something I was already doing anyway. This means I spend the least energy possible cleaning the house. I don’t go into a room just to clean something there. I clean something where I am if I can.
So, on a normal trip into the bathroom, I could choose to do just one of the following:
- Change out the hand towel.
- Wipe out the sink.
- Clean the mirror.
- Clean the toilet.
If I can manage to rotate through those doing just one of these tasks each day while in there anyway, the bathroom stays a lot cleaner.
While in the kitchen waiting for my tea to steep (or your coffee to brew), there are other small tasks to do. Wipe down the front or top of just one appliance. Wipe down one countertop. Clean the sink. Clean just one shelf inside the refrigerator.
There are tons of tiny tasks around the house like vacuuming the stairs or wiping down the handrail. Making note of those things as small, doable jobs, makes them something you can do between other things, or when you have just a few minutes and a little time.
The other great thing about thinking in terms of microcleaning is that you can assign your kids to help with microcleaning. For a lot of kids, asking them to clean an entire room is overwhelming. However, assigning them to one of these smaller jobs can make it easier for them to help. Kids also enjoy unique chores, so assigning them a different microtask every day might get them helping far more than giving them the same chores every day.
The other type of microcleaning I am doing is “beautification”. That is just to say that I am making my space pretty. My focus so far has included getting some cute baskets and organizing small spaces.
The top of my nightstand was a mess. Microcleaning it led me to get some baskets and organize my things. My next task was to organize the shelf I keep our school books on. Not the whole bookcase, just the one shelf. I’m working on organizing very small spaces until they look pretty.
My craft yarn is also in a basket on a shelf now, instead of spilling off of it. Our board game shelf is cleaner. It does make things pretty when they are neat and tidy. But getting it there can feel overwhelming. Doing a very small area, just a couple of square feet at most, makes this more doable for me.
Great places to start beautification of your home could be your desk or the top of your dresser. What is a little place you would like to make prettier? Just give yourself permission to only clean that, and not the whole room.
If you do some microcleaning every day, your house will gradually get better. You can even tell your friends you are doing a kaizen program for your home. Kaizen is the Japanese business practice of working on making things gradually better with constant small improvements. And that is the heart of microcleaning, just a little bit better every day.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.