Between taking care of the kids, working full time jobs, participating in activities at church or with other organizations, paying the bills, walking the dog, taking care of the lawn, getting groceries, preparing meals, and oh yeah, sleeping, there are simply not enough hours in the day to keep the house clean too! When our lives as working moms and dads are this busy, and most of them are, a clean house is usually pretty low on the totem pole. Having a clean house, however, helps your attitude, can keep away germs that cause illness, and promotes a better environment for important family time. Balancing work, family, and home can be done, with a little discipline and some diligent practice. Try these tips for getting your house clean and under control.
Start with a clean house. Before you can start a routine of keeping your house clean and organized, it has to be clean to begin with. Choose a start date for your new house cleaning routine. Make sure it is a Saturday or another day where every household member will be home. Take the entire day (if necessary) to completely pick-up and totally clean the house from top to bottom. Reward yourselves with dinner out or a movie and pizza in at the end of your day of hard work. Starting with a “clean slate” is the first step to keeping a clean house.
Assign Jobs. If you children are old enough they should be assigned daily and weekly tasks that are their responsibility. Daily tasks might include loading the dishwasher, picking up their room, taking laundry to the laundry room, or wiping down the table after dinner. Weekly tasks might be collecting the garbage, dusting and vacuuming their bedroom, or cleaning the shower. Create a paper chart for your kids to follow and check off the tasks they have completed. A reward system works well for these chore lists. The system should be set up so that your children get a set amount of allowance, or whatever else, if the chores are all completed at the end of the week. If they are not, deduct what you think is appropriate from the reward. A “pay per chore” reward system does not work well. In contrast to assigning jobs for your kids, Mom and Dad should NOT have assigned tasks. Sharing in the responsibility without having to assign specific tasks is part of building a healthy marriage.
Do Small Jobs Daily. There are a few small jobs that should be done daily, or every other day, to keep them from getting worse and thus taking longer if you wait to take care of them. The kitchen table and counter tops should be wiped down daily. Bathroom sinks should also be wiped out. Pre-moistened sanitizing wipes make this job very easy. A daily shower spray is also a good idea. All of these chores combined only take a few minutes and if you actually do them each day, you won’t end up having to spend half an hour or more taking care of them on the weekend.
Never Go Up or Downstairs Without Something in Your Hand. If you live in a two story house and/or have a basement, there are items that end up on the wrong floor everyday. Whenever you head up or downstairs for whatever reason, never go empty handed. Take something with you and put it away. It will literally take an extra 30 seconds and minimal effort, but these little trips add up quickly.
Do Deep Cleaning One Room at a Time. Once or twice a year you should take the time to really clean a room well: move the furniture to vacuum, wipe down the walls, scrub small crevasses, etc. The deep cleaning of the entire house doesn’t have to be done all in one day, or even one season. Just deep clean one room at a time as you feel like or have the time to do it. Don’t feel like “spring cleaning” has to be done all at once during once specific time of year.
Throw Away Trash as You Produce It. Cleaning a house that is full of clutter is nearly impossible. As you receive junk mail, throw it away immediately. Have a place for paperwork such as bank statements and bill stubs. Keeping the house tidy in between cleanings makes it amazingly easier to actually clean when the time comes.
Sometimes the lives of working moms and dads are so busy, cleaning the house just doesn’t get done. And that’s okay. Don’t stress over a week or two of a messy house. Following these tips will help you keep the house cleaning under control so you can use more of your free time to do what you enjoy.