One of the biggest struggles for me as a work from home mom has always been managing housework. And in all this time, I still haven’t found that “magic formula.” I’ve never been good with keeping to routines so my strategy is to just do the best I can and make peace with the fact that there is never really going to be complete order in my house unless I can somehow be superwoman or clone myself a couple of times. 🙂
Even though I usually don’t stick to the little housekeeping routines I try to start, there are a few things that work well for me when I bother with them. So I’ll share those tips below as well as some other good ideas and resources I found online.
Set a Timer
This is my favorite housekeeping strategy! Sometimes I set my oven timer to 60 minutes and then just clean non-stop until it goes off. This includes picking up, laundry, dishes, etc. Then, I stop, and my house is reasonably clean! Yes — it is truly amazing what you can get accomplished in just one hour of cleaning if you pretty much go full speed ahead. After that buzzer goes off, I’m done. No more cleaning for the day. And usually my house stays tidy enough that if I decide to do it again the next day, the work is not quite as hard and I may be able to fit in a little deep-cleaning, too. Ideally you would do this most days a week and your house would stay pretty tidy, but I can never seem to keep it up for more than a few days at a time.
Some days you may not have 60 minutes available to devote to cleaning, and that’s fine. Just set your timer to any number of minutes you think is reasonable depending on your schedule and whatever else you have going on.
Do Your Cleaning in the Morning or at Night
You could combine this tip with the 60-minute timer. Try to get your cleaning for the day done either in the morning before you start working or at night after everyone else is in bed. Either way, you should spend the early part of the day with a reasonably clean house and you’ll be able to focus on work without worrying about chores. I don’t know about you, but I hate feeling like I have to stop working in the middle of the day so I can clean. It’s stressful to sit around working, staring at a messy house.
This is something I’m actually pretty good at. If you make an effort to get rid of things you no longer want or need on a regular basis, cleaning your house will be so much less stressful. Don’t you hate when you’re picking things up and you find all kinds of random objects that you have no idea what to do with? My rule of thumb is that if I haven’t used it for a year and it possesses no sentimental value, then I probably don’t need it anymore. There are of course some exceptions to this and if it’s an item that doesn’t belong to you, definitely ask the owner before pitching it (trust me on that one — my husband is a total pack rat and hates for me to get rid of any of his things without asking him first). But I have definitely found that cleaning is a lot less stressful when I make an effort to regularly get rid of useless objects.
Scheduling Your Housework
I am not really a scheduler, but I know this method works for some people. Basically you just assign yourself different chores for different days. When I’ve tried this, I’ve always divided it up by room. Example: Monday – living room, Tuesday – kitchen, Wednesday -bathrooms, Thursday – bedrooms. The idea is to do serious cleaning in one room(or rooms) each day while also doing the usual chores, too, such as your dishes, laundry, general picking up the house. You are also supposed to give yourself a day (or days) off from cleaning. And you could combine with this with my timer tip above so that way you’re not spending all day on the one room.
Get the Kids Involved
My youngest son (almost 5) loves for me to give him little chores to do. So sometimes I’ll ask him to take a short stack of laundry to a bedroom, pick up things out of the floor, or give him a rag and let him wipe the windows. And then of course after the fact I heap praise on him for being such a good helper and he just beams! My older son is 7 and he is getting to the age where chores don’t exactly appeal to him, but I ask him to do certain things, too. Giving your kids little chores teaches them responsibility and helps you out at the same time. Yes — there are times when I just pick up after them because it’s easier and quicker, I admit. I’m not perfect. But I feel like that’s no big deal as long as I am still making an effort to regularly involve them in the housework.
Be sure to get the other people you live with involved in the cleaning, too. If you’re working at home, you simply cannot be expected to do it all.
Become a “Fly Lady”
I am not a Fly Lady, but for years I’ve heard nothing but good things about this website for help with managing and organizing your home. My sister actually did it for a while. Just reading through the FAQ on the website gives me so many good ideas! She recommends first of all getting dressed for the day (including shoes) because when you’re all the way dressed, you feel better about yourself and you have more of a can-do attitude. She has basic weekly plans listed for housework, routines you can follow, and also divides your house up into five different zones to concentrate on as well as pointing out the “hot spots” that will soon take over if you don’t deal with them. Another neat little strategy – spend five minutes a day on the worst room of your house. Just five minutes. If you do that, the room should be clean at the end of the month.
I’m going to have to check into Fly Lady further! Here’s the link if you want to read more of her ideas.
I found another useful post at Passionate Homemaking called Homemaking Help 101. I could probably spend all day reading through these tips! For example, the very first section includes posts about cleaning your house in just 30 minutes a day, washing laundry in one day, organizing your kitchen, family chore charts, and she even has some info posted about Fly Lady.
So, I feel like I have rambled on and on here, but I hope this has given you some ideas. My favorite and most helpful strategy is doing the 60 minute timer. Just try it — you will be amazed at what you’ll get done in just an hour, and then you can spend the rest of the day NOT worrying about cleaning.
So how do you juggle housework and working at home? Do you follow any set routines? Please share your tips with me and others!
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