As a busy homeschooling work-from-home mom, I’ve discovered a few tricks over the years to staying on top of housework despite having an endless to-do list. Is my house showroom ready? Definitely not! Yet it’s manageable, comfortable, and we have clean clothes. (Most days.)
Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed or just looking for help to get things done, I hope these cleaning tips help you as much as they still help me.
10 Tips for Staying on Top of Housework
Before diving into all my tips, I want to mention my main tip. As a mother of many children, now ranging in age from 30+ down to 8, I’ve found giving my children chores from an early age is key. It helps prevent housework overwhelm in a big family and busy home. And it gives them some important life skills that they’ll need when they’re on their own.
#1. Create a Cleaning Routine
There are things that need to get cleaned daily, weekly, and not as often. Make a cleaning routine for each one.
- The easiest way I find to get daily cleaning done is to include it in my morning and evening routines.
- For a weekly cleaning routine try designating each chore to be done on a particular day. For example, floors on Friday, or washing on Wednesday. This is what I do as part of my busy working homeschool mom schedule. Another idea for a weekly cleaning routine is to set aside an hour or two on a certain day and get them all out of the way at once.
- Don’t forget to make a routine for those chores that don’t need to get done as often. For example, dusting the blinds or cleaning windows.
#2. Clean as You Go
Don’t let dirty dishes sit while you’re cooking. Instead clean as you go. And model this to your children as well.
Did you use the cutting board to cut up meat that is now cooking on the stove? Rinse the cutting board and knife off and put them in the dishwasher while you’re browning the meat. Even better? Teach your kids to help with kitchen chores.
Wipe down counters while something heats in the microwave. Don’t waste precious minutes waiting while something cooks. You can clean a lot in a few minutes, such as:
- Unload the dishwasher
- Wash a few dishes
- Wipe down the counters
- Throw out old food
- Organize a drawer or cabinet
#3. Set a Timer
Set your timer for 15 minutes and race against the clock to get an area of your home clean. It’s amazing how much you can get done in just 15 focused minutes and racing against the clock helps you clean faster too.
I found that timed housework was particularly helpful with my children that have a competitive streak. Try it with your next fall or spring cleaning family time.
#4. Use Cleaning Caddies
Make a cleaning caddy for each level of your home. Then if you have a few minutes while you’re waiting for someone or something you’ll have it handy to quickly clean something.
#5. Declutter Regularly
As Marie Kondo says, decluttering is an important step in keeping your home clean.
Get rid of clutter. Make it fun by challenging yourself or your children to fill a bag or donate a certain number of items. Tricia from This Life of Ours, challenged herself to fill every box that came to their home for an entire month with things they no longer needed. What a great use for all of those Amazon boxes!
#6. Use Baskets & Buckets
Set a basket or bucket in a room to collect items that need to be taken to another room. You can race your children to see who adds the most items or add things to the bucket as you’re giving a spelling test. This is a great way to keep everything organized.
#7. Leave a Room Cleaner Than You Found It
This was something I learned in a parenting class when my children were younger, but it’s stuck with me. If you walk into a room leave it cleaner than you found it.
- So if I put away some laundry in my girls’ rooms, I may pick up a few toys while I’m in there. Although I’m now more likely to remind them to pick them up on their own.
- Each time I visit the washroom, I’ll check the toilet paper, change the trash bag, or wipe down a sink.
Challenge your children to do the same thing. It’s a fun challenge to find something you can do to make the room look nicer.
#8. Make Your Bed
As soon as your bed is empty in the morning, make it! Honestly, sometimes this is the only housework I get done in a day. Because homeschooling, homesteading, and working from home is more than a full-time job. At least if my bed is made, I feel like I got one housework chore complete.
It only takes a couple of minutes and makes your entire room look cleaner. You’ll thank yourself when you climb into bed at night too.
#9. Make Housework Fun
Every Sunday when I’m putting laundry away, I listen to my favorite podcasts. Focus on The Family and Life With Sally.
This technique is known as habit stacking. I “stack” the housework task with something I enjoy. And that makes me look forward to the chore.
#10. Take Advantage of Snippets of Time
I recently completed a time audit. If you haven’t yet tried this, give it a go! I found that I do in fact have snippets of time throughout the day to complete tiny tasks.
Don’t think you don’t have time to do anything productive because you’re leaving in 10 minutes. Make the most of the time you’re waiting.
- Clean a bathroom.
- Pick up a bedroom.
- Switch the laundry.
- Match socks.
- Put away items that had been placed in the bucket for another room.
As homeschool moms, it can feel like we have an endless to-do list. There are always meals to prepare and housework that needs to get done, on top of all we do as moms, teachers, wives, and maybe even business owners.
What makes it even harder is we’re home all day. We can see what needs to get done, but struggle to find time to squeeze one more thing to do into our day.
I hope these tips will help you feel less overwhelmed and maybe even make housework fun!
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Sarita Harbour is a busy mom/step-mom, and grandmother blessed with seven kids ranging from age 32 down to seven. She lives off the grid with her family in a lakefront chalet in the beautiful wilderness of Canada’s far north. She spends her days teaching, writing, and learning the ropes of homesteading off the grid. Visit her site, Off Grid Life, for free printables and resources on homesteading, homeschooling, and self-reliance for the whole family.