House Management 101: A Cleaning Schedule That Works

I am a stay-at-home mom of four children, ages nine, six, three, and one. Managing my home and family is my current priority, but cleaning my house, doing laundry, and cooking aren't necessarily what I want to spend the bulk of my day doing. The business of family and home management is always an ongoing process, but when I find something that seems to be working, I like to share it. If you are anything like me, seeing what other people do to keep things running smoothly is often inspirational. Feel free to use my strategies as a starting place to figuring out your own rhythm and routine.

My Priorities

  1. kids in bed at 8pm
  2. tidy house (my husband and I both get dysfunctional in clutter)
  3. clean house
  4. clean clothes/linens
  5. family dinner at least 5 out of 7 nights a week
  6. me time
  7. low grocery budget

Art supplies hang in my pantry door so my kids keep art at the kitchen table: idea stolen from Pinterest.
Art supplies hang in my pantry door so my kids keep art at the kitchen table: idea stolen from Pinterest.

A Few Habits That Have Made My Life Infinitely Easier

  1. no toys in bedrooms
  2. all toys in common living spaces have a container that puts them completely away
  3. getting my kids as involved as possible with household chores, even when they don't quite seem age-appropriate
  4. splitting duties with my husband, who probably gives an above average amount of help for a man who is married to a stay-at-home wife
  5. a self-imposed rule that I do not do any manual labor while my kids are sleeping
  6. regular purging of things we don't need/use

My Cleaning Schedule

 
Week 1
Week 2
Monday
all kids' laundry washed/put away; de-clutter house; clean kitchen; sweep floors
all kids' laundry washed/put away; de-clutter house; clean kitchen; sweep floors
Tuesday
de-clutter house; clean kitchen; sweep/mop floors
de-clutter house; clean kitchen; sweep/mop floors
Wednesday
de-clutter house; clean kitchen; sweep floors
de-clutter house; clean kitchen; sweep floors
Thursday
de-clutter house; clean kitchen; sweep floors; vacuum carpets; wash sheets/towels
de-clutter house; clean kitchen; sweep floors; bathrooms
Friday
de-clutter house; clean kitchen; sweep/mop floors
de-clutter house; clean kitchen; sweep/mop floors
*My husband and I do our own laundry as needed; house de-clutter happens before dinner; kitchen clean-up happens after dinner; kids help where possible.

Neglected Areas

  1. my bedroom
  2. deep cleaning of any kind (see plan below)
  3. dusting

Cleaning out my fridge once a month has made the job an easy 20 minute task, no lie.
Cleaning out my fridge once a month has made the job an easy 20 minute task, no lie.

What works here is that I'm keeping up with things often enough that the jobs don't get too big. Typically, I like my entire house to be all the way clean all at once, but this is something that just became unrealistic to accomplish with little kids at home. Because I am cleaning my kitchen completely, every night after dinner, it stays pretty clean and the task takes about 10 minutes. My compromise to have bathrooms cleaned one week and the house vacuumed another week means that at least the rest of my house is mostly all the way clean, monthly. It takes me about an hour and a half to vacuum my entire house and about the same time to clean three bathrooms.

I have always encouraged independence in my children and have never been a mom who feels guilty when I'm not on the floor playing with them. I've always kept age-appropriate toys in the main living areas of the house and my little ones have typically been good to play independently as long as I am nearby. The only exception to this is when I try to be on my computer or my phone. It seems like my kids (all kids?) have this radar for technology, and the minute it comes out, they suddenly need attention. As a result, I try to do all my computer and phone "business" while my kids are napping or after they have gone to bed. This is how I developed my personal goal never to clean or do laundry while my kids are asleep. I can run a vacuum or sit on the couch and fold laundry and my kids will play happily nearby, but the minute the phone rings they are suddenly hungry or cranky or fighting or needing me.

My resolution for 2016 is to implement the monthly deep-cleaning tasks outlined below. My goal is to accomplish the bulk of these on the first day of the month, whatever day that may be. During the months that have the most tasks, I'm challenging myself to accomplish everything in the first week of the month. We'll see how things go.

Deep Cleaning Schedule

Four years ago I organized and labeled all the crap I had floating in my bathroom closet. Miraculously this system has continued to work.
Four years ago I organized and labeled all the crap I had floating in my bathroom closet. Miraculously this system has continued to work.

A Peek Behind My Closet Doors

Though it is not a resolution, exactly, another long-term goal I have is to organize the various storage spaces in my house. Those that I have tackled in the past, in a way that makes sense, have actually remained organized. We moved into a slightly bigger house the year I was pregnant and gave birth to my last child. That child was a bit difficult in the areas of eating and sleeping that year, so not only did my entire plan for home maintenance fall out the window, but many other places in the house got neglected as well. Both my babies are now in preschool three mornings a week, so it is probably time for me to venture into those spaces in the attic and basement that haven't been touched in a while. Konmarie anyone?

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