One of the things I get asked about most is my cleaning schedule and regimen. I love having a clean home, and not just once a week, but every day. I can manage the rest of my life so much better when my house is clean and organized, and there’s something about an orderly home that provides a more calming atmosphere. Everyone is just happier in a clean home, especially me! Over the years as we’ve added more children to our family, it’s be come even more essential, because there are so many more people contributing to the mess and chaos.
Years ago, I developed a routine that has worked wonders for me, and I’ve loved it ever since. I’m going to share my secret with you today! It works, and if you follow it, you WILL have a clean house. It all boils down to just one little word. MAINTENANCE. I’m a big believer in “maintaining” a clean house. It actually will take you less time overall if you do some every day, instead of saving it up for one big day or weekend. For example, it takes me less than 20 minutes to deep clean three bathrooms, because I do a quick 3 minute wipe-down of those bathrooms on a daily basis. The same applies for every section of your house.
What do I actually DO, and how does it work?
There are certain things that I do every. single. day. and these daily tasks are the key to to the whole maintenance process. I also have weekly and monthly tasks that I work into my daily schedule, and I can do all of that in about an hour or so a day, PLUS my folding laundry time in the evening. (I have about a 5000 square foot home, so that time will probably differ a little depending on the size of your house.) There are days where it takes a little longer than an hour, and other days where it doesn’t. I will switch things around depending on my schedule, and if there’s a day where I’ll be home all day, and other days I’ll be gone or busy a lot, I’ll put more on that one day. Some of the tasks I do all at once, and others are fit in throughout the day as I go about my routine.
I’m also a list girl, so having a checklist is a big part of my routine. It keeps you on track, and gives you a visual reminder of what you’ve accomplished, and what you need to do. Here’s my checklist…print it, then slide it into a sheet protector, in a frame (use a dry erase marker), or even laminate it…then you can use it every day, week, and month! (You can download the checklist at the bottom of the post.)
P.S. This is MOST definitely a family effort. All of my kids have chores, depending on their ages. (You can find that post HERE.) Keeping it clean together, makes a big difference, and we all work together to get it done.
Let me explain a little more about the tasks I do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis…
Daily tasks are at the crux of your success…they make everything else so much easier, and really make your home look and feel clean!
These are the things I do every single day!
* 3 minute wipe down of each bathroom (glass, counters, toilet, floor around toilet)I keep Clorox wipes under the cabinet, and when I’m finished getting ready, I quickly wipe everything down. I make my way to the other bathrooms and the same thing.
* Make all beds: It’s the first thing I do in the morning, and I require all of my kids to make their beds before leaving for school. My little ones need help, but this is one of their very first chores. It makes a TON of difference in the way your home looks and feels.
*Sweep after each meal: It only takes a minute–literally, I timed it! It’s amazing what adds up on the floor during the day, but if you’ll take the minute or two to sweep after each meal, it’ll be a breeze to keep up!
*Wipe down the kitchen counters after each meal: The kitchen is the heart of the home, and when it’s a mess, it feels like the whole house is a mess. Wiping down the counters after each meal eliminates the crumbs, plus clutter that can add up during the day.
*Keep up on the dishes: I load my dishwasher immediately after using any dishes…in fact, it’s a rule that no dishes can stay in the sink! You have to do it at some point, and it’s way faster to do a few at a time, rather than a bunch of them later. Load the dishwasher throughout the day, run it at night, and put them away in the morning!
*Open all mail, go through school papers, and file! Oh, how paper can quickly take over our lives! Staying on top of it is the key, so each day go through mail and school papers and file them where they go. Controlling paper clutter will make a HUGE difference in both appearance, and as a time saver…since you won’t have to look for anything! I have a mini command center on my kitchen counter that makes it really easy–I have files for every child, bills, coupons, school papers, etc.–so I can quickly and efficiently get them off of the counter in an organized way.
*Vacuum main living area: I vacuum our family room every night, or at some point during the day. It’s the main room of our home, and we all spend a lot of time there. It takes just a minute, but oh my goodness, it makes a huge difference!
*Laundry: I personally prefer to do laundry every day. I do a lot of loads every week, and when you add in towels and sheets, it’s at least 15 loads. There’s no way I’m doing that all in one day! I wash and dry during the day, and stack the clean laundry in baskets in my room. Each night I fold the laundry, put it back in the basket folded, then put it away in the morning. It breaks up my time, doesn’t make it seem as overwhelming, and I can stay on top of it much more easily.
*Entire house pick-up: I’m constantly picking up during the day, and having my kids pick up after themselves. I have baskets on the stairs for items that need to go up, and places for everything to go. The house gets picked up every night–there is nothing better than waking up to nice, clean house! Each night right before dinner, my kids help quickly pick up the house–they each have a buddy, and that team is assigned a different area of the house to tidy it up (family room, playroom, reading room). House rules also call for rooms to be clean before dinner. It works wonders, and not only does the house get cleaned, but it teaches them about being responsible for their messes and the work that’s necessary to maintain a home. It sounds like a lot, but when you do it every day, it really doesn’t take long at all!
Where the daily tasks help control clutter, and maintain general cleanliness, the weekly tasks are at the core of a really clean home. These tasks will tackle the dirt and grime, and make your home truly clean. Work them into your daily tasks where they make sense–when you’re wiping down kitchen counters, go ahead and wipe down the cabinets. Instead of your 3 minute bathroom wipe down, deep clean the bathrooms. For your laundry one day, make it towels and sheets. Some of the weekly items, I admit, I do more often than once a week. I usually mop at least three times a week, sometimes more–I really can’t stand my kitchen tile, and it shows dirt and smears so quickly! I also vacuum more than once a week, but that’s because I’m kind of crazy when it comes to those lovely vacuum lines. ☺ I don’t think you have to–that’s just how I roll.
Here are my weekly tasks:
*vacuum entire house, and under couch cushions
*dust, then wipe down all furniture with damp cloth
*wash sheets and towels
*empty all trashes (or more if needed)
*wipe down kitchen cabinets
*wipe down kitchen chairs
*deep clean kitchen: burners, stovetop, microwave
*deep clean bathrooms
*clean all glass
The monthly tasks are even more of a deep clean, but if you do them every month, they don’t take nearly as long. I divide the monthly tasks into four sections, and then try to add those to my weekly tasks over four weeks. Some of these are great jobs for kids to help with–cleaning out garbage cans, washing down switch plates and doors, washing baseboards (my kids’ love this!) I will say that this is MY GOAL. Some of them are easier, and don’t take much time, like dusting the ceiling fans. I’ve only ever had a few fans, so less than 10 minutes, and they’re done. I also have a self-cleaning oven, so I’m not scrubbing it out like I used to, so it doesn’t take as long. If I don’t get them all in one month, I’ll try for two months. Things happen, and life happens, but I know that if I wait too long, it will be so much harder, and take so much longer, so that’s my motivation to try and stay on top of it as much as possible.
*Sweep out garage
*Vacuum out windowsills
*Dust ceiling fans
*Wash baseboards, and walls as needed
*Clean fridge & freezer
*Wash light switch plates and all doors (exterior and interior)
*Clean out garbage cans
*Wipe down vents
*Wash bed quilts
Okay, so you might be wondering WHEN I do all of this. Here’s an example of my week, and where it all fits in…
(You can download this weekly cleaning list at the end of the post!)
This is just an example–it can be moved and switched around to fit your own daily schedule, and what makes sense for you. This is a typical schedule for me, but I also move things around if I know I’m going to be home one day (with more time), or busy/gone other days.
As far as the time of day goes, it’s totally personal, as to when it fits into your schedule. For me, the morning works best. As soon as my girls and Ryan are off to school, I settle my boys with some puzzles or a game, set my baby to play in her walker where she can see me, and I go to work! I make the rounds of the house–checking beds, wiping down bathrooms, and general straightening, which is about 10 minutes total. Then I tackle my list items for the day…I can get my floors (sweeping and mopping) done in about 30-45 minutes . If I have more time, and the baby is still happy, then I’ll squeeze in one more item from my list. If not, I’ll wait until nap time or another time during the day. I also get stuff done after my kids go to bed, because that’s when the house is quiet, and I can do it uninterrupted.
During the course of the day, I’m sticking to my daily tasks–wiping off counters, keeping up dishes, and sweeping after each meal. I’m a HUGE multi-tasker, and while my boys are eating their lunch, I can talk to them while I’m rinsing dishes, cleaning the oven, or wiping down the inside of the fridge. I would be in the kitchen anyway, and this lets me get more than one thing done at once. I apply this concept very often during the day.
General pick-up happens a couple of times during the day. If my boys are getting too crazy with toys, then we’ll stop and put a few away, so we don’t have so many later to clean up. I check the mail and sort it in the afternoon, and try to have that done before kids come home from school. Once kids are home, I usually don’t have time for anything on the list–it’s time for homework, piano, ballet, sports, etc., and I’m either in the car or busy helping a child. I do require all backpacks to be cleaned out (and papers brought to me) and hung up as soon as kids come in the door, and shoes in the basket. No snack until it’s done! I’m really strict on this, because it’s one way the house can get crazy…fast! I do go through their school papers as I’m helping them with homework, which has worked really well for me.
Right before dinner it’s time for our stations, and everyone quickly gets the house straightened. After dinner we clean up the kitchen together, and it’s family time until kids are ready for bed. Once they’re settled, I vacuum the family room if I haven’t had time that day, and then I sit down with a basket of laundry or two while I watch a movie or favorite show. I can fold three baskets of laundry in about 30 minutes, so I still have plenty of time for other projects, reading, or relaxing.
I do have to add, lest anyone thing that there is never a speck of dirt in my house, that it isn’t always perfect. I do have six kids and a husband, and we do live in our house. Like everyone, there are lots of crazy moments–when the kids have their homework out, they’re practicing the piano, while I’m making dinner, and we’re dashing out the door to violin or soccer. I have days where my kids are sick, or I’ve had an extra busy day It’s LIFE! But I do make a concerted effort to keep everything straightened, picked up, and clean, because that’s how I function best–our family does better, I do better.
So…if you’re ready to take this on, I know you can do it!! You will need to start with a clean house in order to maintain it, but you can use all of the checklist items to get to that point, and then you’re ready! Clean your house for YOU, not for just company–you and your family live there, and will get to reap the benefits on a regular basis of having clean home.
This has been so interesting!! I’ve gotten e-mails and comments that are wonderful, and others that accuse me of not having six kids, lol. It’s true, I do! I’ve had lots of comments from working moms, and I really want to address that. I know we’re all in different circumstances–different lives, different schedules, different families. We all work hard, but some outside the home, and others are home with their kids. My hat is off TO ALL MOMS, whether you work in or out of the home, we’re all in this together. We all work hard, we all have a lot on our plate, and we’re all trying to do the best we can. I am a SAHM, but I also work from home. I’m trying to fit in a job, while I’m taking care of my kids at the same time, and I still have to balance a schedule like those of you who are working outside the home.
Whether you’re at home during the day or you’re not, trying to fit everything in that we can is HARD. That’s why I wrote this post–to share what has worked for me, and has helped get me through the toughest times. My intent was to share this in the hopes that it could help someone else. I’ve had lots of questions and emails in the past about how I keep a clean house with all my kids, and this was in response to that–for those that are looking to try a new way or a new method to clean their house.
I’ve also worked outside the home, and I know when you get home after being gone all day, you are TIRED, want to spend time with your kids, and get dinner on the table. We’re all trying to find something that works for us, for our families, and for our lives. It’s really the method I’m sharing–that of maintenance–that when things are less dirty, they take less time to clean That’s it. Nothing fancy or too profound, but just something that has saved me a lot of time and energy. In my own personal experience, this is the particular method worked really well for me. We were all gone during the day, so it wasn’t getting dirty! If I could get it clean, and then just maintain the basics, I didn’t have to spend a lot of time cleaning (except laundry, which NEVER goes away!!!). This is what I did:
2 minute wipe down of bathrooms: Clorox wipes under the counter work great for this! Wipe off the counter and sink, and around the toilet as necessary. When I deep cleaned them on the weekend, it made it so much easier and faster.
Put clean dishes away, put dirty ones in. Wipe off all counters.
Sweep after the meal, and clean up the kitchen (Start dishwasher)
Have kids tidy up their rooms
Quick vacuum over main floor or living area–family room, etc.
After kids were in bed:
Laundry!! Seriously. I wish there was a magic answer for it, but I haven’t found one yet. If you do, let me know!
Go through mail and file it away
-Deep clean bathrooms
-mop kitchen floor
-vacuum the house
-whatever else I had time for! :) Usually one “extra job”, like the windowsills, windows, etc.
I did find that if I could do those basic maintenance tasks during the week, it just didn’t take as long deep clean them on the weekend, which saved me time, and also meant more time with my family. I didn’t have to spend hours and hours–I could take 1 or 2 hours in the morning, then still have the rest of the day.
I want to also emphasize that keeping a clean home is a FAMILY effort at our house. Yes, I do a lot of it, but my kids and husband all help–everyone is a part of the family, and need to take care of our home. Starting from a young age, my kids make their beds, clean up their toys, help put away the dishes, take out trashes, and learn to clean and wipe down bathrooms. They have an extra chore every day, and they are wiping down baseboards and cleaning light switches. It teaches them responsibility, how to clean, and what it takes to maintain a home. We are all in it together, especially when things are busy and crazy.
Okay, so I know it can look overwhelming. But…just keep in mind that those tasks a MUCH shorter time to complete when you are just maintaining them, and not deep cleaning them. Clean your house top to bottom, then start the maintenance process, and you’ll see what a difference it makes, and how much time you can save!!
If you have any more questions, please let me know–firstname.lastname@example.org