Working Mom Advice: 8 Tips for a Clean House
Recently I heard of this idea of being a “Scrubber or a Tidier” from episode #3 from Young House Love Has a Podcast. If you are a scrubber you get satisfaction in the cleaning such as vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing while tidiers would rather organize, pick up, declutter. Now if neither of these labels represents you then you probably fall into the category that you aren’t a tidier or a scrubber and mess and clutter do not bother you and neither scrubbing or tidying give you any satisfaction.
Both my husband and I are tidiers and this leaves us both staring at each other to see who will pick up the mop first. We realized this wasn’t a good method of getting motivated to clean and through a bit of trial and error we found a plan that is working for our house.
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1. Try Different Methods
Some people love to have a calendar for cleaning, others like a to-do list and cross things off as they go, some have themed days and don’t need a calendar or a to-do list, some conquer and divide with their partner and each have cleaning tasks they are responsible for, while others hit the high cleaning spots and if time permits for more cleaning they will tackle those areas. For others, they clean daily to stay on top of it all works for them. There are so many methods to cleaning it would be hard to list them all, but the best method is the one you will actually do on a regular basis. So take some time and try some different methods (especially if yours isn’t working for you) and find a method that works for your household.
What is our current method? We tidy almost all the rooms regularly, but before we clean the house we make sure all the rooms are tidy to make cleaning easier for us. Then we clean in zones (i.e. only upstairs, or only the bathrooms, or the bedrooms, or the kitchen). We have those zones on a white board and when we finish a zone we erase it and it helps myself and my husband know what still needs to be cleaned during the week. The zones help us keep cleaning manageable, but also flexible because we find it difficult to have a schedule that is rigid like clean all bathrooms on a Tuesday. It is working quite well and it allows for our weekends to have more playing and plans without feeling the guilt of leaving a house that desperately needs cleaning. It took us a few couple trials of cleaning methods so don’t give up and keep working to find a plan that fits your household.
2. Start off Small
I hate cleaning and so spending 8+ hours on cleaning sounds like pure torture. We try to do most of our quick cleaning in small doses and so if I have 20 minutes before everyone gets home I will choose one of our zones on the white board and clean during those few minutes. If the kids are downstairs playing nicely with my husband I will spend a few minutes upstairs cleaning. Other times I take a Lysol wipe and go around and clean all the things I can with the few extra minutes I have during the week. I typically sleep a little later than the rest of my family on the weekends so before I head downstairs I will clean something before heading down. Every bit counts no matter how small the cleaning and these small successes of cleaning really add up.
3. Set a Timer
This one for me was life changing. My husband hates cleaning even more than I do and he needs to see a light at the end of the cleaning tunnel. We now set a 15 to 30-minute timer and whatever we can clean in that time frame gives us that end goal. Let me tell you that you can clean A LOT when a timer is ticking. The timer has revolutionized our cleaning and helps us do the more daily cleaning that we didn’t typically do in the past. So put on a timer today for 15 minutes and see what you can clean as I bet you will be pleasantly surprised at the results!
4. Evaluate Clutter vs Cleanliness
This is a big one for us because there are times where I do feel with three kids that my house will never feel clean. I have come to realize that this has more to do with clutter than it does with real cleanliness. When I am feeling like my house is not clean I try to evaluate if it is because of clutter or cleanliness and tackle it from that angle. So before you go into cleaning mode look around and try to check what needs cleaning and what could use a good tidying.
5. Find Solutions to Help with Problem Areas
There are products out there that can make your life easier when cleaning or extend the time between cleaning. I highly suggest finding the areas of your house you hate to clean the most and find products to make your life easier. For instance, bathrooms get used so often in our house that we try to extend the time between cleaning so we use Automatic Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Spray and Rinse Shower Cleaner, 22-Ounce (Pack of 2), and keep Lysol wipes readily available to clean up messes quickly so they don’t cake onto the counters or floors, One of my favorite cleaning products is Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and with three small kids this really has saved my walls. Looking at the areas that you hate to clean and finding solutions to make it easier to clean has really helped us streamline our cleaning and extended our cleaning time period as well.
6. Everyone Helps + Find Each Other’s Strengths
Everyone helps with cleaning in our household since none of us really love to clean. For my husband and I, we know what areas of strengths when cleaning and so we try to stick to those areas. I am better at dusting and he is better at vacuuming. He is better at the bathrooms and I am better in the kitchen area. Even our 5-year-old has recently gotten involved with cleaning and we use a timer with her as well for shorter bursts, but that has been helpful in getting chores done as a family. The teamwork is going to look different for each household, but if one person has the brunt of cleaning (even if they like it or have more time) they may become upset when others in the household aren’t chipping in on the cleaning.
7. Add Music, Podcasts, Audiobooks and More!
I do not find cleaning fun (go figure!), but I love music, podcasts and audiobooks so adding it to my cleaning routine have been a great help in jazzing up the cleaning process. If your kids are being supervised I have also recently put on headphones to listen with a timer on and has allowed me to get a very focused cleaning done. I did this the other day and it was the most productive 15 minutes of cleaning I have done in a long time and would recommend this strategy to anyone. Try something and if it keeps you motivated to clean then stick with it and keep the cleaning mojo alive!
8. Add Cleaning to Your Calendar
This isn’t talking about having a cleaning calendar. Like I spoke about earlier that method may work for some, but a cleaning calendar will not fit for everyone. This is referring to actually just writing cleaning on your calendar or your planner as a reminder to actually clean that week. I usually write it on our family white board calendar as a reminder to us and then in my planner on the side where the to-do section is on my planner. I find it is very similar to writing down exercise in your planner/calendar as you are more likely to do that if you write it down and have a space that is trying to keep you accountable.
BONUS: All Else Fails…Hire Someone!
If you really find that you can’t keep up with cleaning and it is leading to issues in the home and nothing is working there is no shame in the game of hiring out to get help. Prioritizing your budget and what is important for your house even when you don’t think you have extra income to spare could create the solution to cleaning. For instance, maybe you can get rid of cable and hire someone to clean your house once a month. Asking for help (especially for moms) is always so hard, but it can really change your life in the positive when asking for help. I commend people who realize they need help and are willing to ask for it and give themselves a more enjoyable lifestyle.
So there you have it! Our ways of creating a clean home even though my husband and I hate to clean and work long hours. I would love to hear if you think you are a scrubber or tidier. Also, I know there are so many other helpful tips to keeping a house clean so if you have any suggestions please share in the comments below.