With kids, errands, work and everything else that requires your attention on a daily basis, it seems like cleaning the house often gets pushed to the bottom of the list. And that’s as it should be – except that a messy, cluttered house can load you up with mental and emotional clutter that makes it harder to get everything else finished. Try these tips for taking control of your housecleaning chores without taking away too much time from your other priorities.
Make a List
Before you get started with a cleaning plan, you need to figure out what constitutes a “clean house” to you and your family. Do you need to vacuum every day, once a week, twice a week? How often do you need the bathrooms cleaned? And what are the bigger chores you want to do less frequently – wiping baseboards, steaming upholstered furniture, sweeping the garage? Make a list of what you want to do weekly, monthly, less-than-monthly, and daily, and then print out a calendar that you can all use as a reference.
Spread it Out
The last thing you want to do on supposedly relaxing Saturday is clean the house, right? Especially when you could be spending that time with your family (or at the nail salon – hey, you can dream!). But by breaking up your list of chores into smaller tasks and planning to do one each day, you can have larger blocks of free time when you really want it. Dust downstairs on Tuesday, vacuum the family room on Wednesday and Sunday, clean the bathroom on Thursday, and so on – doing these tasks on a regular basis will mean they go more quickly each time, and spending 20 minutes a day on a quick clean keeps your home neat and tidy all week.
Have a Daily Routine
At the end of the day, it can feel impossible to do even one more thing before you go to bed – but if you can take ten or 15 minutes to tidy up, you’ll thank yourself in the morning. We’d recommend the following: Make sure all the dishes are clean and the dishwasher is loaded (or emptied, as necessary); check for trashbags that are full and ready to go out; do a quick check for dirty laundry that you can throw in the washing machine in the morning, or for clean clothes to be folded and put in drawers; put away the kids’ toys and schoolbooks; and clear off your breakfast table and your counters. It sounds like a lot, but we promise it won’t take very long – and the next day will get off to a much smoother start.
Enlist the Kids
Kids of all ages can help with chores – and they should. Store games and toys for your littlest ones in containers marked with a picture of the item so that they can help clean up. Slightly older kids can clear the table and load the dishwasher, sweep, and make their beds. Tweens and teens can take on deeper cleaning and bigger chores (think bathrooms, yardwork, and cooking – especially when there’s an allowance involved). Delegating some of your tasks to the rest of your household frees up your time to focus on bigger projects.