I get it.
Life is crazy hectic and sometimes, you feel you can’t keep on top of the housework. Or maybe you feel that way all the time?
When I was a younger mom, I hovered in the middle between ‘Wow, I have most my list finished!’ and ‘I have no idea how I got through today!’
If I’m honest, those days I mostly winged it. (Is that a phrase? Winged it? Wung it??)
But since then I’ve adopted some tried and true tips that help me keep ahead of housework and they’re so simple, but I promise, they’re very effective and I still use them everyday.
Here they are in no particular order:
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1. Straighten the night before.
I know that the last thing anyone wants to think about right before bed is cleaning. But this is probably the easiest time to do it. Seriously. The kids are already in bed, the house is quiet and there’s no one around to distract or undo any of your work.
And if you keep to these tips I am listing, your nightly ritual of straightening will go quickly. Mine usually consists of folding blankets, putting couch pillows where they belong and carrying in any dishes we used after dinner.
If the dinner dishes are already done then you only need to load a little bit into the dishwasher. (Washing dishes as you cook cuts your dish-washing time in half. Just keep a sink ready with hot, soapy water and you’re done in no time at all. If you have a dishwasher, just load after you finish using something. That little extra step of bypassing the sink will save you time later.)
I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to go to bed knowing I do not have to wake to a dirty sink or blankets strewn all over my couch.
Taking the time to pick up before bed will ALWAYS be worth it, no matter how much time you devote to it.
Plus, you sleep better knowing you got a jump-start on the housework for the next day. (The sound of the dishwasher running lulls me to sleep.) 🙂
2. Do a quick sweep in the morning.
After I return home from dropping our daughters off at school, and before I settle in my office for the day, I pick up each room.
I do this mainly because I can’t work when my house is messy but also knowing there aren’t things needing to be done helps me focus on my work at hand.
The house does not have to be spotless—it usually isn’t—but it does have to be presentable.
It never takes me very long to clean in the mornings. (I deep clean on Saturdays.) If I have straightened the night before then my housework in the morning is a breeze!
3. Do one load of laundry a day.
I will be the first to say I don’t always do this. But I try.
Because it’s frustrating when anyone in our family comes to me at bedtime saying they are out of something. With our laundry room in the basement, it’s out-of-sight-out-of-mind and when I’m hard at work on my computer, I’m not thinking about laundry. Setting a timer on my phone has been a game-changer in this routine. I no longer forget about laundry and I’ve done well staying ahead of the demand.
If I can’t do a load a day, I designate 2-3 “laundry days” a week where I do up a few loads throughout the day. This works well for me, too.
Whatever routine works best, try to stick with it. I promise, when laundry is maintained, it’s a pretty amazing feeling and it IS doable. Not having the stress of getting behind or having someone complain about nothing to wear is a wonderful way to keep the peace in your home. 🙂
4. Start dinner early.
I really do not enjoy being in the kitchen all that much. I love my kitchen and I love food but I do not enjoy the time it takes to prep and cook. Not when I could be writing, instead. But, knowing how much my family feels loved when I make their favorite meals brings me back to the stove every day.
So if I can’t order take out every day, I figured I better come up with some ways to shorten the duration of my stay in the kitchen. I have come up with some nice tricks over the years but some of my favorite shortcuts have been with a crock-pot and the Instant Pot!
There’s nothing I love more than to start dinner in the morning and smell the aromas of a hearty meal wafting through my house near dinner time. It’s a small piece of Heaven! And our kids love coming home to the smell, too.
(I know cooking is not what most would consider housework but for this stay-at-home mom it’s all part of the “daily grind” so I’m including it. And this tip can free up your time to do other things around the house. A win/win!)
5. Designate chores.
I cannot stress this enough.
Too many parents skip this part of child-rearing for understandable reasons but there is none I’ve heard so far that warrants one person slaving away for the sake of everyone.
Kids need to not only feel like they contribute to the daily life and upkeep of their family but they also need to learn valuable life skills they WILL need one day.
From the time our girls could crawl, I was teaching them how to put their toys away. As they got older, their chores changed and they took on more and more responsibility.
There is nothing I do at our home that our oldest two cannot, and our youngest is fast on her way to mastering the same. Once my girls were old enough to share the load of keeping a home, the stress started melting from my shoulders and for the first time since they arrived in our lives, we were able to keep ahead of the housework. 🙂
An added bonus was the growth in their maturity and responsibility. You really won’t hear them complain about chores because they know it needs to be done and they feel accomplished after having contributed. I promise, I’m not making this up. 🙂
Because I took the time (and pain) 🙂 to teach the girls when they were younger, I can now work full-time from home and not have to try to balance everything on my own. Our house runs pretty smoothly. Not because of me, but because every member of this family does their part.
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About the author
Kimberly McGraw is the founder of Life Worth the Living, a blog focused on helping mothers live their best life. Her desire is to help moms find purpose in who they are as a person, not just as a mom. Life Worth the Living has been featured in Making Sense of Cents, Outwit Trade and Believe and Create.