Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Keeping it Clean

Cleaning the house is one of those never-ending chores...especially with small children in the house!

Is it just me, or does it seem like a room is messy again within only moments of being cleaned?

I would like to suggest a cleaning routine that can help keep the house clean on a regular basis without feeling overwhelmed or like you're constantly cleaning. There are two main components: Minimum Maintenance and Day-of-the-Week To-Do.

1. Minimum Maintenance (MM)

Set your timer for 5 minutes. Pick your first room. In that room, pick up any clutter, throw out garbage, and generally clean up the room. Here's the catch: When the timer goes off, you have to stop! It's time to move to the next room. By staying in each room for only five minutes, you are sure to not burn yourself out before you get to the rest of the house.

There are ways you can tweak this to your personal taste: Stretch it out across the day, so each room is visited at different times, or clean the main living areas of the house in one 30 minute pull. Because it's only five minutes at a time, you may want to do this once in the morning and once in the evening. If you keep it going, there is less to clean next time!

It is also easy to involve children in this cleaning. It can be a game to "beat the timer" and try to get everything clean before it starts beeping. You can also assign your child one task in the room: pick up just the blocks, put all the shoes away, etc.

2. Day-of-the-Week To-Do

You may have already figured out that if you only did the minimum maintenance cleaning, your house wouldn't ever quite get "done". This is where the day-of-the-week to-do comes in. I have assigned a particular, larger task to each day of the week. This can easily be rearranged to fit your family's schedule.

Deep Clean

The three whole-family areas--the living room, kitchen, and bathrooms--each get deep cleaned once a month, with the kitchen going twice. With this being done, the MM cleaning is enough to keep it nice until the next deep clean.

1st Monday: Kitchen

Aside from the usual dishes, countertops, floors, etc. add these to your deep clean this week:

~Clean out the refrigerator, including wiping down walls, drawers, and door, inside and out.
~Wipe down the inside and outside of the garbage can

2nd Monday: Living Room

~Dust all surfaces
~Vacuum under furniture
~Wash windows (at least inside)

3rd Monday: Kitchen again

~Clean out microwave
~Clean out oven
~Clean underneath stove burners, replace tinfoil if necessary

4th Monday: Bathrooms

Bathrooms vary more from person to person, depending on how often you like to fully sanitize everything. My MM includes wiping down the counters and sink and cleaning the toilet bowl and any visible messes, in addition to putting away any clutter. I am content with doing these things only once a month:

~Sweep and mop floor
~Wash rugs
~Scrub entire bathtub/shower


Aside from my MM, laundry is the only thing I worry about on Tuesday. Then I don't feel guilty about not getting anything else really clean and I have the whole day to just get laundry done.

House Projects

If you're like me, there are always things lingering in the back of your mind that need to get done but no one ever gets around out that closet, reorganizing that cupboard, maybe taking down and washing the curtains. Whatever your own projects may be, Wednesday is your day to get it done! It is much more likely to happen if you have a planned and regular day to work on it.


I take one day a week to sit down and go through any money-happenings of the week--paying bills, balancing the checkbook, filing any paperwork. I personally find it much more manageable to stay on top of such things if they are done more often than even once a month.

Day off!

If life is all work and no play, UGH! If you've kept on top of things all week, use Friday to just play--after you've finished your MM, of course.

Bedrooms, Yardwork

I like saving bedrooms for Saturday because then Dad is home and we can work all together as a family. I like my kids to be responsible for their own mess in their own rooms, and Dad has a bedroom too, right? Aside from our regular cleaning, we also change sheets and vacuum.

Also because Dad is home, this is a good day to be outside (during the warmer months). The kids can play in the yard while Mom and Dad work or they can pitch in with easier jobs. Make it a family day!

Obviously, what works for me won't necessarily work for you. I also recognize that there are many, many other things that need to get done in a given day, such as errands. Everything I've shared here is adaptable. I would simply like to suggest a way to keep your house clean while still having time to spend with your family. Try it out, keep what works, toss what doesn't!

And we turn it to you...

What tips do you have for keeping your house clean without feeling overwhelmed?

How do you involve your children in keeping the house clean?

Any general cleaning tips you'd like to share?


Raylyn said...

I love your ideas Laura, especially the five minute cleanup:) I designate each day of the week to something kind of like you. Mon: Kitchen and mopping, Tues: Bathroom, Wed: Dusting(I usually only do this every other week, or upstairs one week down the next), Thurs: Vacuuming, Friday: odd jobs and outside stuff, Saturday: free day. A load of laundry about every other day. Following this schedule has really helped me not to feel so overwhelmed about cleaning since I moved into a house. While living in an apartment I use to do all the cleaning on Saturday, but with a kid and a larger living space that's just not possible anymore. If I only have to think about one thing a day, my to do list doesn't seem so impossible:)

Heather said...

Laura, do you really clean your oven once a month?? Kudos to you if you do! I, too, love the timer thing. It's a great way to involve the kids, because once the timer is done, they can be done.

LeeAnne said...

I've been needing to get my chores organized for a while now, because I feel overwhelmed by all the housework a little too often! I also love the timer idea (and have used it before when I need to get the kitchen clean before going to bed but really don't feel like doing it. having a timer on gets me motivated to just get it done quick!). Thank you for the ideas and tips :)