There are no shortage of tips on the internet for how to keep your house clean- I’ve read them all. I sometimes wonder if these moms are real, like me, or if there is some magical Pinterest world where they live in their perfectly clean homes. Here are my personal tried and true tips, from a full-time teacher mom of two girls, who is also a pastors’ wife. I share that detail because being married to a pastor means that hospitality is a given in my life, and my house needs to be guest-ready most of the time. I am still in progress, but this is what’s working for me in this stage of life.
- Week vs. Weekend
Know your weekday limits. I know that I don’t have much time or energy to clean during the weekdays. So here’s how I break it up:
- Week Days
- General pick up each night before bed- Especially my main level where it is most “lived in.”
- Dishes in dishwasher, run in the evening if full.
- Sometimes, I run the laundry through the washer and dryer, but leave it in baskets, clean but not folded or sorted. That will happen on the weekend.
- My washer and dryer go non-stop during the weekend. This is also when I finally get to the clean clothes that have been sitting in baskets throughout the week.
- Vacuum. This task doesn’t take much time, but has a BIG impact on how clean your house looks.
- I have four bathrooms in my new house, and that intimidated me. How will I keep them all clean all the time? The trick for me has been to make a routine of cleaning it. I do the toilet cleaner on all four toilets. Then I do the mirrors on all four bathrooms. Then I spray the counters and wipe them down. Lastly, I finish the toilets. The same order, every week. Deeper cleaning happens less frequently, as needed. I have it down to such a routine that I can do all four in about 20 minutes.
- Time yourself- it doesn’t take as long as you think.
- Like I mentioned above, I didn’t think I could keep four bathrooms clean every week until I actually timed myself out of curiosity. It only took me about 40 minutes the first time. Then I made a game out of it, and tried to do it faster next week.
- Same with dishes. Seeing a huge pile of dishes is so annoying to me. So one day, I timed myself to see how long it took to empty and refill the dishwasher, with a huge sink full of dishes. The whole thing only took me about 12 minutes. Then, next time, I remember that even though it looks like it will take forever, it is actually manageable.
- It’s also helpful to know how long it takes you to do random chores in case you have people “pop” over. If someone calls and says they dropping by, I know I can vacuum my main level in about 8 minutes, and do the dishes in about 10.
3. Get the kids involved.
- I recently heard some fantastic parenting advice about this: “You have to teach your kids to do chores when they’re not really helping at all, so that they will do chores when they’re old enough to actually be a helper.” When they’re preschool age, they definitely will slow you down. But the time invested is so worth it, because once they get a little older, you’ve already set the expectation that we work together in our house, and they can actually contribute to the household duties.
- It’s no secret I’m a big fan of chore charts! I talk about them all the time to my frustrated mom friends. Kids can do WAY more than you think they can. I started chores when my oldest daughter was two, with very simple tasks. Now, she’s six and she’s teaching my two-year-old how to clean the bathrooms and unload the dishwasher.
4. All the papers.
- Since my daughter started kindergarten, it is a constant battle with the never-ending stream of paperwork! You have to find a system for paperwork that works for your family. We have a Rubbermaid under-the-bed bin that we keep for each girl. If a paper or project is something worth saving (and we’re picky!), it goes in that “special bin.” Then, at the end of the year, we go through it and save only the best. We are ruthless about everything else. No time to be nostalgic about the handwriting page or the sticker book.
- And the mail is a pain too. I purposefully unsubscribe from any junk mail, and I adhere to the “only touch it once” adage. It goes from my mailbox to the garbage in the garage before ever coming in my house if it’s junk.
5. Three words: Express Wash Setting
- I have not seen any difference between the cleanliness of my clothes after the 50 minute “normal” wash, and the 20 minute “express” wash. So I save those 30 minutes and get my laundry done so much faster!
6. Have some “cheat” spaces
- We have one room in our house that we just decided that we don’t care if it is a mess- our playroom! I love that my kids actually play in the playroom, and use the toys we have. Our toys do not sit on shelves for long, they are out and being used. For that to happen, there has to be a trade-off. That room is almost never clean. And I just decided I’m going to be okay with that.
Okay, that’s that. Now, I have to go actually do these tips and get my house clean!