The Best (and Laziest) Rules for Keeping a Clean House
Updated: Jan 12
As the mom of three kids under four years of age, I have been asked, "HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR HOUSE SO CLEAN?!" First, I really want to maintain a clean home. I would definitely say I am a stubborn and unbending individual. That said, I am also the kind of person who takes the easy way out. If there is a quick but not perfect fix for a problem, I go with it. Second, I really want time for personal goals and self-care. With a five-month-old, I am unwilling to get up early. (Anytime that baby is sleeping, I am sleeping!) I do not want to feel overwhelmed either. So, how do I meet all my personal demands, keep my home as spotless as humanly possible, and care for my children? This is a seemingly impossible problem I needed to figure out: squish all my responsibilities and desires into a 24-hour day.
The following are the rules I now live by:
1. Never be complacent with clutter.
If you do not mind messes and can easily ignore them, you will not have a clean house. The right mindset is absolutely the key to success. It is possible to keep up on housework even for the busiest of people, however, you must be motivated. Find a solid reason not to be complacent with clutter: You might be less stressed out, and maybe it will put your spouse in a better mood after work. Other reasons might be teaching your children how to be organized and learn a habit of cleanliness that sticks with them for life. Keeping your motivation in mind will help keep you on course as you tackle your housework, and keep you from tolerating anything but a clean home.
2. If a task will only take a few minutes, just do it.
This is the ultimate lazy housekeeping rule. Anytime I see something that needs to be done quick, I go ahead and do it. If you are constantly tidying, the house will seem to magically stay clean. Simple actions like folding a blanket laying on the floor or putting away a few plates in the drying rack will make a huge difference at the end of the day. I hardly feel like I am doing much because of how short and interspersed my cleaning is during the day. Always having things neat is the easiest way out of housework.
3. Stick to a housekeeping schedule using rule #1.
You will need to identify the tasks that need to be done on a daily basis and on a weekly basis. For me, daily tasks would be general decluttering, vacuuming/sweeping, and washing dishes several times. My weekly tasks include washing sheets/towels and deep cleaning the kitchen. I divide the weekly tasks into manageable portions and set a day to do each. Once you have all of your daily and weekly jobs set, list all the extra things you want to do on a monthly, bi-annual, or yearly basis, such as cleaning the oven, dusting the ceiling fan, etc. Plan on completing one of these big-ticket items on weekends or on days your regular housework is lighter. My exact housekeeping schedule is pictured above.
I have found it better for my family when I schedule my tasks Monday through Thursday, as my husband works from home on Friday. Friday functions as a swing day. I have the ability to get to a less frequent task accomplished or I can catch up on something I wasn’t able to do on a regular cleaning day. Life is bound to happen; I will often have some sort of hindrance that keeps me from accomplishing my daily goal. Having a backup day planned ensures you will never fall behind. I do not beat myself up over missing a day, but I also do not become complacent or give up if a day was missed.
4. Identify your obstacles and work around them.
For me, the biggest roadblock to cleaning is my young children. Every mother knows that you cannot do ALL your to do list for the day while the kids take naps. (I would be absolutely lucky to get three kids under four to sleep at the same time. If that happens, I should make sure to buy a lottery ticket that day, too!!) My second largest obstacle is honestly my husband, but not in a bad way. When he is home, it is our time to relax and enjoy each other's company. In addition to our just hanging-out time, we work on random projects as we finish out our house. (Comment below if you would like to see content on building a shed-to-house!) I hardly get any housework done when he is around, and it would be futile to think that I could accomplish very much.
These are examples of how I worked around my two main obstacles to be successful in keeping to my cleaning schedule. Since my children are much more content in the mornings, that ends up being my best time to do all the daily and weekly chores I have planned out. I make them sit at the table after a meal so I can clean the kitchen unhindered. When I go to vacuum, I have the children pick up toys and any pillows/blankets on the floor. Anytime my husband is at work makes for a good time to clean, because I am not distracted by his presence. If I have housework to do while he is around, I make it clear what I have to get done to keep our home functioning smoothly. He is often willing to keep the kids out of my hair so I can work.
My day is actually quite simple when I stick to the rules. I wake up when the baby gets me up around 7:30 AM. My boys are up and running around 8 AM. I serve a simple breakfast, and I begin to start my work. I vacuumed the main areas, scrubbed the kitchen/bathroom floors, and organized any clutter I could find. With the brunt of the housework done in the morning, my afternoon is balanced between watching the children and accomplishing my personal goals/projects. In the late afternoon, I whip up a simple dinner and wash the dishes one last time. I then “clock out" and am able to enjoy the time with my husband and children without stressing over the condition of my home. I did not sacrifice the time I wanted for myself. I am not overwhelmed. I feel as though I have won.