I have always been an organized person. Until my mother died I could multitask like a pro. After her death, grief left me with an organizational deficit. I couldn’t keep anything straight. There is a lot to do after a death already. I worked two jobs and commuted six-to-eight hourse on weekends to help organize my dad’s home, move, etc. I had too much on my plate and I couldn’t stay organized.
I realized that my organization issues were part grief symptoms (it felt like what I can only describe as ADD–my mind jumped from task to task without completing the thing I started so nothing got done) and part life circumstance (demanding jobs, too much commuting, not enough sleep or self-care). By the end of two years I was completely burned out.
When I moved to Vermont just after the beginning of year two, I aimed to recover from that burn out and re-organize myself. With planning a wedding, unpacking, adjusting to married life, dealing with health stuff, and trying to redevelop a career, I was feeling the same effects of burn out. I wasn’t actually relaxing, I was continuing the same practice of cramming everything into my life and still not finding enough time for myself.
As quickly as grief burn out sets in, it takes a while for it to recede. The idea of trying to manage my household alongside professional needs is a normal everyday thing and I had managed my household before, but my burn out was more of an obstacle to organization than I thought. The energy just wasn’t there in the way it had been and I still couldn’t find a way to get myself organized. I thought a new place, away from some of caregiving needs that had exhausted me would be the fix. It wasn’t. The mental and emotional burn out moved with me.
Over the three years since my mother died, I have been able to get a routine of work, house maintenance, and self-care to stick for two weeks at a time. So my life looked something like this: research scheduling practices, find a good one, adapt it to my life, stick to it, two weeks pass, things fall apart, exist in chaos for a while, research more scheduling practices, repeat.
I recently found another cleaning and organization schedule that I put into practice and, after three weeks, I am still on schedule, I getting more organized, my stress has reduced, and many of my scheduling issues are slowly falling into place.
I discovered Clean Mama, a website and blog about house cleaning/organization that saved my sanity. The schedule is simple and straightforward and by following it I have found more time in my week. I no longer feel overwhelmed at work (except when I should feel overwhelmed at work), I have more time to devote to writing, I am sleeping better because I am not running through the list of things I didn’t get done, and I have a bit more time to devote to self-care.
Clean Mama’s tagline is “Everyday life. Simplified.” For me, it truly has been. I started by signing up for Clean Mama’s email list through which I received some helpful downloads to start my organizing schedule. The website has a “start here” page, which contains information on Clean Mama, her philosophy of cleaning/organizing, and links to free printables. Be sure to read it.
I have download and printed out every free printable on the website and I created a home binder (something pre-grief me was all about). I divided the binder by seasons so that I can deep clean and deep (re)organize four times a year, and I have a section for lists, etc. in the back. Clean Mama publishes a free monthly calendar of cleaning at the start of each month. That is at the beginning of my binder and I check off each day of the week as I go.
The tasks for each day are more or less the same. One cleaning area is scheduled per day (in addition to the smaller everyday tasks): Mondays are for bathroom cleaning, Tuesdays for dusting, Wednesday vacuuming, Thursday floor cleaning, Friday is a catch all, Saturdays for laundering sheets and towels. My house is cleaner and every week is more about maintaining a cleaned, organized home than it is about deep cleaning mess.
I also downloaded Clean Mama’s to do lists, which have helped me divide tasks into different four categories for easy weekend (and weekday) attacking. My categories right now are Home, Personal, Blog, and (right now) Holiday prep. I have yet to explore the meal planning organization.
The Clean Mama blog offers time-saving cleaning tips, videos, and general suggestions. The printables page also has recipes for household cleaning products. (I made the shower cleaner and it has been a miracle for our gnarly shub that is difficult and time consuming to scour.) I am slowly reading articles on the Clean Mama site and getting more organized each week.
Clean Mama has a “Homekeeping Society,” a subscription service that offers emails, product discounts, monthly focus tips, to do lists, a daily planner and weekly schedule, a monthly menu plan, and more. I am considering joining the society, especially with 2019 rolling in soon. While I haven’t tried it yet, I would still recommend it as a gift for grievers. If you want to help someone out, but aren’t sure how, explore the Housekeeping Society. Talk with your griever to see if this type of a service would be welcome (always ask, don’t assume).
While Clean Mama’s system works for me, it may not be the solution to your grief burn-out. If you try it, and it doesn’t help, it isn’t you. You just need a different program to help get you organized. Overall, I have to say that I am incredibly impressed with Clean Mama and wish that I had found the site sooner.