“How do you do it all and still manage to keep your house clean?”
That statement is music to my ears, and believe it or not I hear it quite a bit.
It’s quite the juggling act, I’ll admit. To balance being a full-time working woman, full-time mom, full-time wife, cook, and housekeeper.
Luckily, my husband (and family) helps quite a bit. But I have a few secrets to keep your house clean with minimal time required.
Yep, you heard me right. A clean house with minimal time required. Which means it works for me even though I work a lot. But you can use these tips if you’re a stay-at-home mom too. Because let’s be honest… what mom has a ton of time to clean??
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1| One Touch Rule
This is a simple rule, but a powerful one.
Once I read an entire blog article about this very point, but I’ll summarize it quickly for you right now because we’ve got lots more to talk about.
To put it simply, the “one-touch rule” is more of a goal. You only want to touch things ONCE before you put them away. This saves time and effort.
Let me give you an example. Imagine you come home, take off your coat, and lay it on the couch as you walk in the door. Then your kids start to pull on it so you move it on the back of the couch. You sit down to watch a show and it slips off the back of the couch and falls to the floor. You pick the coat up, start to carry it to the closet, but get distracted and hang it on the banister. The next day, you spend an extra 5 minutes trying to locate the coat because it never made it into the closet where it’s supposed to live.
Does this sound familiar?
This was me, every day. With all my things. My purse, my jacket, clothes, papers, etc.
Think of how many times I had to “touch” that jacket. In the example we wasted so much time on all those extra touches, not to mention all the time spent looking for the misplaced item.
Once you’ve touched something to put it away, your goal should always be to put it in its proper home. This will save you so much time and hassle, trust me. Make this goal a priority.
2| Have Cleaning Supplies Accessible
Make cleaning as easy as possible for yourself by making cleaning stations all over your house.
For me, this is most easily demonstrated in the bathrooms.
I spend so much time with my kids in the bathroom. Someone always has to pee, poop, take a bath, wash their hands, etc.
Often I’m just standing around during these times. I used to look at how dirty the sink was and think, “hmm I should clean that later”. But you know what? It never got done.
Now I keep a small cleaning basket in every bathroom. You need to do this right now, it’s a game changer.
Now when your daughter is trying to poop for the 3rd time in the past hour, you can take a Clorox wipe and clean the sink.
When your son is washing his hands, take the rag and dust off some shelves.
Or when your kids are in the bath, you can clean the toilet.
The best part? No extra time has to be specifically set aside for “cleaning”.
Think of ways you can do this for other areas too. Like having a portable vacuum cleaner easily accessible to multiple areas of the house (we like the Dyson Cordless Vacuum for this).
3| Do Laundry Every Day
I know no one likes to do laundry, but doing it every day ensures that laundry doesn’t become a thing.
I put in a load of laundry every night after the kids go to bed. Then I do something I need to do: scrapbook, meal prep, watch Netflix… you know, the essentials.
When the wash is done I put the clothes in the dryer and go to bed.
In the AM, I put the clothes away as we’re getting ready. Since I do laundry every day, this takes less than 10 minutes because the loads are small.
Again, doing it this way ensures laundry isn’t a whole separate chore you have to do. It’s just easily incorporated into your everyday routine.
4| Automate As Much As Possible
When my husband told me we needed a Roomba, I thought he was crazy. But it’s been a life saver.
Did you know you can program them to go off when you’re not home during the day? Then they’ll just go around sweeping your floors and vacuuming the rugs WHILE YOU ARE OUT DOING SOMETHING ELSE.
Mine does such a good job that I bring it into the basement and let it run at night while I’m working on my blog. My husband comes home and is so happy that I vacuumed… no clue that I actually just brought my best friend Roomba with me.
Look, I get it. I balked at the price at first. But I am telling you it will save your sanity and your relationship. In the end it costs less than having your house cleaned twice professionally.
You need to find little ways like this to automate your cleaning – things like timing dishwashers, laundry, vacuums, etc. Find what works for you to make your life easier.
5| Divide Cleaning Into “Kid” Categories
This is an important point – and one I talk about in my post on How to Thrive at Being a Working Mom.
You should make a list of all the house chores and put them in to three “kid categories”:
- Chores that can be done WITH kids helping
- Chores that have to be done by you but while the kids are awake
- Chores that must be done after the kids are sleeping
Feel free to make your own, but if you want to see my chore chart I created download it here.
In my chart I breakdown tasks by activity and category. Why is it important to divide chores in terms of “kid-friendliness”? Because, mom brain.
We all have 100 things buzzing through our brains at any given moment. It helps to have a general plan for tasks you should expect to accomplish during the day, and ones you have to do at night. That way, you don’t accidentally catch yourself using valuable after-bedtime moments doing something you could have finished during the day.
Another thing I include in my Cleaning Guide for Busy Moms is printable cards for the “kid chores”. This way kids can easily learn about daily chores and responsibilities.
My kids are young and can’t read yet, so I have a picture above the chore for them to identify. When the chore is to be done that day I put it on the fridge (I laminate mine because I’m obsessed with our laminator and attach them to our fridge with magnets, but that is optional). When the task has been completed I take it off the fridge and put it in the drawer out of sight.
“Put Away Toys” is on the fridge every day whereas something like “Water Plants” is something more seasonal and weather dependent.
Chances are, there is another adult living in your house. It may be your mother, your roommate or your partner.
Make sure you are not trying to take on too many responsibilities for yourself. If there is another adult in the house, they should be sharing the housekeeping as well.
Rather than dividing up responsibilities on a daily basis (ie. asking your husband to vacuum the basement on a random Thursday), make sure that roles are clearly assigned and expectations for deadlines are set in advance.
For example, my husband is responsible for washing dishes and loading the dishwasher every night. On Sundays and Wednesdays, he takes the trash to the curb. In the mornings, he gets the kids dressed while I shower.
If your partner seems resistant when you present this, make sure you are presenting your own responsibilities and deadlines as well. (Example, “I will unload the dishwasher every morning if you load it every night”).
Trying to do everything yourself is a recipe for one burned out mom (Rachel described this perfectly in her Journey from Career to Stay-at-Home-Mom).
Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
7| Binge Clean
Look, I’ll be completely honest with you. Despite my best efforts, sometimes life gets crazy and my house gets out of control.
That night, my husband and I have a glass (or two…) of wine and set aside time for a “binge cleaning” after the kids go to bed.
During this time, cleaning is a priority.
We tell ourselves not to get distracted by organizing, sorting mail, etc. This is a time to get the house looking decent.
We usually set aside an hour for this. Believe it or not it works surprisingly well. The key is to not let the house keep TOO crazy before implementing this step.
Note: The wine is technically optional. Personally I think it gives us an incentive to clean!
8| Purge Stuff
I need to take a step back to describe this point appropriately, so bear with me
My ultimate role model for keeping things organized is Marie Kondo, she’s famous and you’ve probably heard of her.
She’s the Japanese organizing consultant and author of the super popular, #1 New York Times best-seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
I could go on and on about how amazing this book is because it is seriously some of the best money I’ve ever spent. I mean who doesn’t love the idea of cleaning your home ONCE and never needing to do it again? But today I’m only going to concentrate on one of her main points.
Every item in your house should have a home. Meaning everything should have a dedicated spot where it is properly put away.
What’s the biggest thing holding us back from this?
Having too much stuff.
Too many toys mean that your playroom will always look messy. Too many clothes and your laundry will never be under control. Too many knick knacks will make your house look cluttered.
On the contrary, less stuff means everything has its place and there’s overall less to clean up.
With Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method, she goes through step-by-step how to declutter your home. She’s also a private cleaning consultant, and apparently none of her clients have ever lapsed – talk about impressive. No wonder there’s a three-month waiting list for her services!
I can get you started purging your kids clothes AND help you make money doing it. Check out my post on Making Quick Cash Selling Your Kid’s Old Clothes.
9| Get Easy Storage
Waaaaayyy too often do I see toy storage like the picture above. Big. Mistake.
It may seem like an easy solution to dump all of your kids stuff in bins, but the reality is that it always looks messy.
The secret? Bin storage behind cabinets.
Take a look at my playroom/living room:
Looks pretty clean, right? OK, now let me show you my dirty secret behind those cheap IKEA cabinet doors:
Yep, it’s definitely not neat or tidy. I just throw stuff in there in cheap baskets like this one.
But the important thing is that it looks clean.
Don’t set yourself up for failure by having everything neatly organized on shelves or in storage bins. Opt for a more cabinet-style approach and invest in some storage bins that fit behind them.
10| Admit Defeat
Ok look.. If I’m being *completely* honest…. one of my secrets is that on occasion I get someone to give my house a thorough cleaning.
There, I said it. We all need a little help now and then, and that’s OK.
It’s much easier to keep your house clean when it’s already been cleaned. Rather than trying to get your entire house in shape yourself.
A thorough house cleaning once every few months (or even once or twice a year) will make your life so much easier, trust me.
You might be thinking, “but I don’t even have time to find a house cleaner and call them!” Don’t worry, Amazon has got you covered (like they always do).
Amazon Home Services offers customers over a thousand different services that are all backed by Amazon’s Happiness Guarantee. House Cleaning is one of their most requested services.
Definitely check it out:
There you have it. Now you know all my house cleaning secrets!
Don’t forget to download my Cleaning Guide for Busy Moms before you go.