As a mom of 3 littles I needed a realistic house cleaning schedule. Something that would help me keep a cleaner home without listing off all the odd things like baseboards and wiping walls. I was just cleaning areas that were already really bad, but weeks would go by before I’d get to others.
Cleaning a house with young kids reminds me of what it might be like to be stuck on a hamster wheel…it never ends. As soon as one room is wiped down the next has a big mess!
I’ve created a basic daily house cleaning checklist where you will do a few daily chores PLUS focus on cleaning and tidying one room a day. It’s manageable and helps me focus in.
It’s not a deep clean list, but will help you form new habits. You can find my free daily cleaning checklist at the bottom!
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Why I needed a realistic house cleaning schedule for busy moms
I knew something needed to change when I had been planning to invite new mom friends over but couldn’t bring myself to invite them.
100% because I didn’t have the energy to spend ALL day cleaning to get my house to a place that didn’t embarrass me.
And I’m not talking about forgetting to dust that day. Dusting, what’s that?!
My floors had cereal stuck to them from days ago, my bathrooms were weeks past due for a good deep clean, my husband needed clean socks and underwear, and there were piles of kids crap strewn everywhere in EVERY room.
Don’t even talk to me about the kitchen!
It was a major low for me.
I was exhausted thinking about it and wished I could figure out how to maintain a clean house with 3 kids under 5.
My habits needed a reboot, and I needed a house cleaning schedule I could stick to. I desperately wanted the peace that comes from walking into a clean space.
How to play catch up when you’re super behind on cleaning
The most overwhelming thing (you’re probably doing this right now) is eyeballing your house and seeing ALL the things you need to put away and clean before you can truly rest.
I’m not a super type A clean freak by nature. Which means I often prioritize other things over cleaning, like reading on the couch with my kids or writing this blog post 😉
But every once in a while things just spin out of control and I need to play catch up. You get it! Here’s what I suggest.
1. Have people over
My hubby and I usually have people over every few weeks. We found a deadline does wonders to motivate us to get caught up! As in normal chores like clean the bathroom, mop the kitchen, etc.
If this motivates you, try it! If it’s way too exhausting to spend a full Saturday cleaning, then try starting a few things 1 or 2 days before, like cleaning your bathroom.
But honestly, it got to the point where I didn’t want anything hosted at my home because of how behind I was on cleaning. Yes, it was that bad!
2. See if you can afford a one time house cleaner for a deep clean
If you feel too overwhelmed and busy to catch up, see if you can hire a one time deep cleaner. Just to get you back to ground zero from the pit of despair. From what I’ve seen, the cost might be around $150-$200 to deep kitchen, bathrooms, and floors.
The time in my life I desperately “needed” a house cleaner was the time I couldn’t afford one. We were on a residency budget with 3 tiny kids and no side income from me yet. We lived on one small income with 3 kids. That just didn’t include hiring ANYTHING out.
My husband was very busy at the hospital and our time together wasn’t often spent cleaning. It was spent holding babies, reading to them, feeding them, getting them into pajamas, playing with them, walking to parks…you get the idea.
3. Ask for help
This is HARD. But it may be what you need to do to catch up.
It may be asking your spouse to help with a certain chore. Or asking a family member to help you clean for a couple hours or take the kids while you clean.
How I finally got caught up on house cleaning
Amazingly, my mom flew to visit me for 9 magical days and helped me catch up on deep cleaning. She pulled me out of a minor depression I’m pretty sure! While I nursed the baby and took care of the older 2, she cleaned.
I watched her daily habits, which is what inspired me to make a daily cleaning checklist for myself. I wanted to KEEP my home the way she left it. It was sparkling.
She even pulled all the stuff out of one of my corner cupboards, vacuumed it and wiped everything down with soap. (That would have been a FULL day project for me with the kids).
I don’t think I could have gotten the jump start I needed at that point in motherhood without my mom’s help or a house cleaner.
Ok, on to the fun stuff…how YOU can keep a clean-ish house by doing just a few things each day.
Secrets to keeping a cleaner house than you have now
Step 1: Get off the couch.
The hardest part about cleaning my house is getting off the couch. Because cleaning is just NOT fun and you feel tired when you’re done.
I get overwhelmed at the thought of having to do it all, and sometimes spend DAYS dreading what would only take an hour to clean. So just start with one task in mind…AND get off the couch.
Step 2: Pick up clutter first before cleaning
If I want to clean up a floor super fast so I can sweep or tidy, I’ll put everything in a big basket on the couch, and later put those things in their “homes”. Just the absence of clutter everywhere (even if I know it’s all in that bin over there) feels so peaceful.
You can deal with it later when you are done cleaning. This helps me to see all the items on my counter or floor that don’t have a “home” yet, need tossed, or given away.
Step 3: Race the timer
I’m incredibly slow and inefficient when left to myself. But, racing a timer to see how much I can do in 5 minutes helps me get moving!
Think about how many times you are waiting for the microwave to heat something up and are just standing around. Could you clear the table in that amount of time? Or sweep the kitchen floor real quick?
If I’m waiting for the tea water to boil, there’s often something I can put away while I’m waiting, or mail I can quick sort through.
Another thing I’ve started doing when my toddler asks me to wait in the bathroom with him is to quick wipe down the sink. It’s almost always streaked with blue toothpaste from the night before.
By just using those small 2-5 minutes where I’d normally just be looking at my phone, I can keep the house a tad cleaner.
Step 4: Print a weekly house cleaning checklist
Seeing a schedule on my fridge helps me form a new cleaning habit that’s not too overwhelming.
Chores are work…no getting around it. So while it takes discipline and energy to clean…it’s helpful to also have a plan!
I can also mentally postpone the bathrooms if I know I’ll get to it tomorrow. Otherwise I’m always thinking…I’ll get to it…later.
My house still gets dirty and cluttered (5 people living here), but when I follow this it’s SO much better!
Related Post: 8 things I stopped doing to be less busy as a mom
Cleaning habits of people who have clean homes
When my mom came, I noticed a few things she did differently than me each day that kept my house clean and clutter free. These are the things I’m going to share with you in my printable so that you can do a little each day. They include:
- She did dishes after each meal.
- Wiped down counters, table, and sink after each meal.
- Food got put away after meals.
- She swept the kitchen floor once a day.
- Vacuumed main areas every day.
- Kid clothes went to their “home” any time they changed outfits, either closet or dirty hamper. (I’d gotten used to letting them leave it on the floor wherever…for days).
- She taught the kids to pick up after themselves. They started putting their shoes in the shoe bin. It never occurred to me how much habit training helps me! Seriously in 1 week even a 3 year can be trained to put their shoes or coat in a certain spot each time.
- Kids eat in the kitchen only. I’d been terrible about and made my house really crumbly.
Free printable cleaning schedule template
I’ve made this customizable cleaning schedule for you below. Make it work for you! If you don’t like doing a lot of laundry on 1 day, then do a load a day to spread it out. If you don’t want to start making your bed each day, (or if it’s already a habit), then swap if for something else.
Save the image to your computer and print it! To summarize, each day it will help you:
- Clean and declutter one main room each day
- Vacuum/sweep main areas
- Dishes/counters/clear table each meal
- Laundry if needed
My house cleaning schedule does not include every little nitty gritty thing to clean.
If your microwave hasn’t been cleaned in months and has butter popped all over the inside, then that can be part of your “kitchen” day, or maybe that’s the only extra thing you can do that day.
My problem was that I had no plan, so I wouldn’t clean until something got suuuper gross. I’d look at a white wall for weeks thinking, “I should clean all those muddy handprints off of it” but never get around to it.
This will help you to get around to it, without having to feel like you have to tackle the whole house at once.
Two things that will keep your house cleaner with almost no additional effort
- Food stays in the kitchen
- Do dishes right away instead of piling them in the sink.
We recently stopped letting the kids carry food throughout the house. Now we are training them that all food stays in the kitchen.
Since doing this, I have WAY less crumbs everywhere to clean up, and the couch gets less stuck under the cushions to clean.
Update: I do let them snack on fruits or veggies while watching shows…those are generally not messy and I find they’re more willing to eat a cut up apple or orange if that’s ALL they can have wile watching T.V.
As for dishes, I’m trying to put them straight into the dishwasher or washing them by hand. It’s barely any extra effort because I have to do it at some point anyway.
Essentially their “home” all day is now the dishwasher instead of the sink. Then, the sink is always empty and the kitchen looks way better!
You may also love: How to remove stinky smells from wooden cutting boards
Why cleaning makes you want less clutter
If you are like me, a lot of your “cleaning” is just putting stuff away… ALL. DAY. Contrary to how we feel when shopping, more stuff = more stress & less money.
I’ve gone through a lot of purges (10 clear boxes was the biggest so far!) and I can honestly say there are times I get so frustrated picking the same crap up day after day.
There’s clearly emotional attachment or security issues that comes with keeping things we don’t need, but to keep your stress down and lesson the cleaning overwhelm, everything should ideally either:
- Have a home, or a place where you know it goes.
- Donate or toss.
What clutter can you get rid of ?
This easy read called The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up changed how I viewed my stuff.
If your kitchen cupboards never seem to close (mine were like this for a while), it’s because you have too much in them.
What could you let go of? What two things have a similar purpose? Do you need all 7 wooden spoons or could you do with just 2? Do you need 3 travel mugs, or could you just wash 1 each time? (Ahem, guilty of 3 here!). I ended up getting rid of half my dishes set because we didn’t use all 12 of everything and I needed more room in my cupboards!
If your closet or dresser doesn’t have enough space in it so you find yourself stuffing things in, what do you NEVER wear but swear you will someday? I try to get rid of those things.
Choosing the right organizational bins
If you can’t get rid of something, but don’t have a home for it, you will thank yourself for buying some pretty organizational bins.
I’m going to do this soon for my bathroom closet. I have no bins separating things so everything is just sprawled which makes things messy and hard to put away.
You are closer to a clean home than you know
I know the feeling of overwhelm is real. But you can do this! Each day start on one area. Treat yourself when it’s done. And help yourself out by getting rid of whatever you can that isn’t serving your family!
Once you get caught up a bit, it maintaining a nice space will get easier and your stress will go way down!
If you are interested in switching your cleaning products over to a non toxic safe cleaner, I use Branch Basics now for almost everything in our home and LOVE it. Borderline obsessed. You can get their starter kit 15% off with code BLUEANDHAZEL.
Feel free to check out my before and after pics and full Branch Basics review here.