Go to work. Take care of the kids. Talk to the spouse. Clean the house. Repeat.
The chaos of life can seem overwhelming. But housekeeping can become less of a chore if you start practicing a few new habits. No, you don’t have to suddenly become a neat freak. But here’s how to keep up the clean up, so having a clean house doesn’t seem like one more job.
1. Clean as you go
Most tasks are simple and deserve no thought other than to make them an automatic response. Put away clothes, dishes, papers and letters as you go, rather than generating a big pile over time that will only get you down the more you look at it! Create a list of everything you should do as you go, and actively make it a habit to do so. Convince yourself that if you don’t get it done now, you’ll regret it later.
2. Make sure everything has a spot
Cleaning as you go is so much easier when everything has a predetermined spot. Organize your kitchen cabinets so that the more frequent-use dishes and pantry items are easy to access and put away. Hire a friend or wardrobe consultant to help you de-clutter your closet, so that putting away clothes immediately after they come out of the dryer or off the laundry line becomes a joy and not a chore. Have a large laundry basket in a convenient spot, so that dirty clothes are thrown in there rather than on the floor.
3. Break down larger housekeeping tasks into simple tasks
Create a checklist of daily tasks like making the bed and wiping down the bathroom; and a separate checklist of weekly tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, vacuuming and dusting. A checklist will give you a realistic idea of how much time you need to devote to housekeeping each week, and how much time you have left for work, relaxing and having fun with the kids.
It will also help you prioritize those tasks that are must-haves against those that are not as important. If you hire a housekeeper, a checklist can help you delegate so that important tasks are not left for you to do, and to estimate the time your housekeeper will need to get them done. (See our example checklists below).
4. Schedule time for housekeeping tasks
Time management is key to housekeeping happiness — especially when you have kids. But you’ll feel more relaxed knowing that your housekeeping tasks are scheduled on your calendar. Use your checklist to spread weekly tasks over different days of the week, or carve out time on the weekends to get it all done in one go. Be realistic about how long each task will take.
5. Delegate tasks where you can
Use your checklist and calendar to delegate tasks. If you can agree on a checklist with your partner (and children if they’re old enough), and show them a realistic allocation of time for each task and how this fits in with your other responsibilities, then they should be willing to take ownership and find times in their calendars to share the burden.
Some example housekeeping checklists
Tip: Separate into morning and evening, morning only and evening only tasks
Morning and evening
– Do the dishes
– Wipe down benches and tables
– Walk the dog
– Pack school and work lunches
– Sweep the bathroom and kitchen floors
– Make the bed
– Wipe down countertops
– Wash lunchboxes
– Sort the mail
– Put away clothes, toys, gadgets, magazines and newspapers
– File away receipts and other papers
Tip: Assign a day of the week, so that housekeeping doesn’t take over your weekend
– Monday: Laundry
– Tuesday: Dusting
– Wednesday: Vacuuming
– Thursday: Mop the floors
– Friday: Weekly menu & school/work lunch plan
– Saturday: Grocery shopping
– Sunday: Scrub the bathroom; Budgeting and other paperwork
Tell us: What strategies help you ‘keep the chaos in check’? Do you find it hard to delegate chores to your family members? We’d love to hear your stories!