Updated: Feb 29
What does Lent and a thorough house deep-clean have in common? Well, a lot, actually! Traditionally, women would work hard to make their house spotless for Easter, making Lent the perfect liturgical season to get down and do the nitty-gritty, once-or-twice-a-year jobs we put off a lot. We're all about routines here, so let's talk about an easy routine that will help you get the job done over the next forty days, and have your house shining for Easter! (This also makes for a pretty good Lent mortification if you ask me!)
Step 1: Assess Your Needs
It's my humble opinion that no two housekeeping routines are going to look alike. Needs are different, houses are different sizes, preferences are different. So the first thing you're going to do is assess your household needs.
Now, an important point before we begin: by the end of this post we are going to have one day set aside each week to knock out our "deep-cleaning" list. What that means practically is that we are going to have to work hard the other five days of the week to stay on top of the daily/weekly housekeeping chores. So, this would be a good time to establish a housekeeping routine or adjust your present one a bit to allow for that extra day of deep cleaning—and that's where we'll begin, so get out your sheet of paper!
I'll pose the question for you to ask yourself and include my personal answers, but don't copy mine outright—you want this to be completely customized for your family!
Tip: Just because you don't have a house or family of your own doesn't mean you can't participate! If you live with parents or roommates, see if you can help them do some spring cleaning. If not, just focus on your spaces—your car, your room, etc.
What needs to be done each day (before I go to bed)?
Dishes (have a clean sink before you go to bed!)
Laundry (I prefer to do one load each day—I find it much more manageable to do the folding/putting away clothes)
Sweep kitchen floors and clean highchair
10-minute garden check (weeds/harvesting/bugs)
15-minute house pickup before bed
What needs to be done each week?
Vacuum high-traffic areas
30-minute house pickup (twice a week)
Clean surfaces (dusting, mopping, disinfecting)
Vacuum other rooms (e.g., bedrooms)
1 to 2 hours of monthly or biweekly projects (rotate based on needs)
What are my monthly or biweekly projects?
Any big sewing projects
Any big gardening projects (starting seeds, transplanting, etc.)
Organizing an area that has slowly gotten out of whack (e.g., pantry)
Clean an area on the twice-a-year list that has gotten dirty and can't wait (e.g., cleaning a dirty microwave)
What needs to be done twice a year (Lent & Advent Cleaning)?
Baseboards & cabinets
Cleaning out appliances (refrigerator, microwave, toaster, etc.)
Major floor cleans (e.g., moving furniture and cleaning under it)
Cleaning light fixtures, fans, and blinds
Tip: the best system I have found to stay on top of cleaning is to do quick, "little cleans" throughout the week and two deep cleans per year. Your weekly chores allow for only two bigger cleans throughout the year, and your bigger cleans allow for your weekly cleans to be quick and manageable.
Step 2: Plan your weeks
The hard part is over—seriously! Now that you know what you need to do, just divide everything up into days, leaving one slot per week for your bi-weekly/monthly list and one slot per week for your deep cleaning list.
Tip: once Lent is over, you can stretch everything out a bit and remove that one day dedicated to deep cleaning, and pick it up again during Advent. The goal is for your Lenten and Advent cleaning schedules to be a bit more rigorous than your usual ones.
Personally, I like to have about an hour of chores plus one load of laundry (start to finish) per day—that allows me to still get it done with the unexpected errands and during the constraints of baby nap time. If you are working outside of the home, that should still be doable, although you might have to spend more time on Saturdays and reduce your daily work load to thirty minutes. Again, take a good look at your needs and plan accordingly.
Tip: every family's laundry needs will vary so much. For example, if you have a high-efficiency washer, you will probably want to separate each day by texture. If you have a lot of whites or delicates that you are worried about colors bleeding onto, you could have a separate day just for them. We don't have enough of these to make up a weekly load, since most clothes washed on cold really just won't have that problem unless you have a very old washing machine, so I don't sort by color.
Now that you have your week planned, decide in advance which deep cleaning project you will do each week of Lent. If you want, you can do this with your monthly and bi-weekly project, too, but I personally like to assess this one each week. However, I'll go ahead and give you my sample below of what it looks like I'll be doing at this point.
Step 3: Plan your days
Finally, you're going to need to plan when in the day you're going to get these chores done. Just like with our prayer routine, it's usually not enough to just say you're going to accomplish things during the day without deciding when in the day you're going to do them. If you are a fairly new momma who spends a lot of her day nursing, you might want to check out this post for a flexible daily schedule when baby (or mom!) is just not quite ready for that set schedule yet. You can definitely still get this done! It's also a good idea to schedule your days in tandem with your rule of life—a great thing to start for Lent (you can even make a separate, more intense "Lenten Rule of Life").
Since I talk about how to build a daily routine in a separate post, I'm not going to get into that part today—you can read it here (there is also a bonus routine for college students in that post, so definitely check it out if you're still in school). Just remember that Lent is the perfect time to get a solid routine going. If you're one of those who hates the idea of schedules or routines, I want to say two things: 1) Routines don't have to be strictly clock-based; check out that post and learn about block schedules, which are a lot more flexible. 2) Routines are really important spiritually. They help us to grow in holiness by teaching us discipline and mortification (choosing to do things at a certain time because "the schedule says" and not based on what you feel like doing is a great mortification) , and they help us to make sure we are practicing true fidelity to the duties in our state of life. Personally, I believe they are for all personality types—they just might be harder for some than for others, like with anything in life! If you've never had a set routine before, try it for these forty days of Lent and see how your life changes!
I hope you enjoyed this post and will be enjoying a clean house come Easter. For other great ideas for Lent, you will want to check out this post next. Happy Shrove Tuesday!