To a parent with young kids, it may seem impossible to get any housework done when they are around! Or at all! Ever! In this article, I share my expertise in how I stay on top of chores and housework while having 2 young children in the house.
“Success is determined by your daily choices and habits.”
Oddly enough, it’s the small, daily tasks that add up to the most impact with anything. Budgeting, fitness, clean eating, opening a business, keeping a car or your house clean, etc. all follow this rule.
So how do you be a parent AND still keep your house from being a sty? Here are my proven tips that WORK if you put in the EFFORT:
- Clean up after cooking- 25 minutes
I don’t mean immediately when the stove is still hot, I mean about 1-2 hours after you’re done eating and you’re content. Go put a load of dishes in the dishwasher, wipe the counters and stovetop down, and then put away the dishes when clean.
- Make your bed- 10 minutes
Unless you have some ornate set-up, making a bed isn’t a huge undertaking. It makes a room feel clean, put-together, and invites a sense of relaxation. Plus it gets you in a tidy/clean-up mindset.
- Have a designated day for doing laundry and do it all in one swoop- 4 hours inactive, 1 hour active
My laundry day is Saturday. I strip my bed weekly and my kids beds every 2 weeks. Wash clothes all on Saturday starting at about 8am (the baby is up anyway) and do multiple loads back-to-back: my kids laundry & sheets & towels, whites & our bedding & towels, mediums, darks, kitchen towels & rags & cleaning cloths, daycare linens. Move items along as they are done and have a folding party later in the day. While the laundry is going, save time by doing other household chores!
- Grocery shop with a plan in mind- 3 hours (driving & shopping & unloading)
Having a plan makes all the difference and gives you more time for other projects! I make weekly menus for daycare and also for personal use. From that menu, I make a grocery list for: Costco and General List (I go to Publix, Target, or Save-a-Lot for groceries). Then when the kids are fed and the baby just woke up from morning nap, it’s out the door we go to the store! I have my lists and a plan of where we are driving based on what we’re buying. I stick to the list to stay on budget.
- Delegate tasks!
If you expect to have young children and have 1 person do everything when it comes to housework/yardwork, you’re doomed to fail. Sit down with your significant other and make a chore list with how often each chore needs to be done and who is responsible for it (or do you want to alternate doing it?). Each of you put your name next to the chores you don’t mind doing (ie: dusting, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning glass, cleaning the kitchen, mowing the yard, weeding, dishes, trash, etc) and then of the ones remaining, divvy them out. If you have pre-teens or teenagers, enlist them as well. Chores are a part of life and everyone needs to learn these self-help skills to be a functioning adult in society.
- Do a little every day. And enlist your children to help!
When my son was 1.5 years old he was cleaning up spills, putting his shoes away on the shelf, busing his dish after meals and scraping food into the trash, and putting his dirty clothes in his laundry basket. Kids love these types of skills, but unless you show them how to do it and expect it of them, they are going to be slobs! Setting and enforcing limits takes a lot of time and can be quite exhausting, but it also reaps major benefits once the system is in place.
As for parents, be sure to put away things when done, put your dirty clothes in the designated laundry basket, bring in the mail and put it into the appropriate mail slot in the sorter, when going from car to house bring all items and trash inside, finish tasks that are begun, fix that burnt out light bulb the second you notice it, repair that ripped sock if you want to salvage it, and throw away junk mail.
- Do seasonal or annual cleaning & get rid of stuff!
This helps because the less stuff you have, the less there is to clean or clutter your mind or home. Twice a year I go through my: shoes, clothes, pants, books, stuff, file cabinet, toys, etc and get rid of everything that I don’t want or need anymore. Some of it is trashed and a lot of it is donated to Salvation Army. Just a few months ago I got rid of about 1/4 the stuff in our garage and just put it down at the street. All items were free (because my priority was getting rid of it, not selling it) and all of it was gone within 5 days. Felt SO good to lighten our load and add benefit to the community.
- Have daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, and annual projects.
Daily: put dirty laundry away, make bed, clean counters after cooking, do 2 loads of dishes, wipe down kids tables and high chairs after use
Weekly: Clean the kitchen sink with bleach and then clean with soap, dust whole house, all laundry, menu planning, grocery shopping, clean bathrooms, mow yard, weed garden beds, bathe dog
Monthly: change the air filter for the AC unit, deep clean whole house, dust light fixtures, clean glass and mirrors,
Seasonal: Decorations, decluttering, adding mulch to garden beds