As a mom of three that works outside the home, I am often asked how I get everything done. Another thing I hear a lot is “HOW do you get so much stuff done? I could never keep up!” Some of that is just genetics. I hate to be bored and sitting idle, so I’m constantly on the go. I also despise clutter, so the majority of the time, my house is in a state fit for company, or can be within 2 minutes (typically means making beds, because no, we don’t do that on weekday mornings. I haven’t found the solution for THAT yet!). Today I’m going to share my secrets for how to keep your house clean while working a full time job.
First, over the years I came up with a schedule that works for ME. I also enlisted the help of my children. Now I’m not going to lie, I had a house keeper for several years and LOVED it. I only had to spot clean and vacuum throughout the week and she did the deep cleaning. She ended up moving on to a different job and I wasn’t able to find anyone dependable, so it fell back to me. So let’s get to the actual topic at hand – my tips and tricks for keeping your house clean as a full time working mom:
- Create a cleaning schedule. It takes a good 4 hours to really clean my house top-to-bottom. I don’t have that amount of time during the week and I don’t want to give up that much time on my weekends! I looked at my schedule and decided that I would clean the upstairs, which includes three bedrooms and two bathrooms on Wednesdays, the basement on Fridays and the main floor on Saturdays. I chose those days because that is what works for me. Look at your week and pick a day that maybe you get out of work a 1/2 hour earlier, or the day your husband cooks dinner – anything that makes loosing that hour of cleaning time less painful.
- The upstairs takes about an hour, so each Wednesday evening I vacuum and mop the upstairs (we have hardwoods throughout the house). I’m not a fan of sweeping, so I have a stick vacuum that works perfectly on hardwood floors. I also clean the bathroom vanities and sinks, the baths and the toilets. A quick dusting and the upstairs is done. My kids are in charge of keeping their room floors clear of debris. Most people can’t believe how clean my kids rooms are. It was just an expectation from birth and they’re use to it. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t clutter and messes from time to time, but day-to-day, they are pretty clean. I just ensure that they have plenty of storage so that they can shove everything out of sight! Seriously, I don’t care if it is perfectly placed, we have lots of bins in each child’s room so that they can shove things in and gets it off the floor.
- We have a finished basement, so I typically clean that on Friday’s. It is the only floor with a rug, so I use my Dyson to quickly vacuum and then I dust. That’s about all that requires. My 15 year old daughters room is also down there, but she is responsible for cleaning that and her bathroom. I do spot checks on her bathroom to make sure it is staying clean and yes, there are times I have to remind her to step up her game so that it is up to “Mom Standards” but she typically does a great job. She is the only one that uses that bathroom so she can most certainly pull her weight in keeping it clean!
- Saturdays are the day that I clean the main floor. This is the most time consuming, so I do it Saturday mornings and I enlist the kids help. I dust and then my 8 year old son vacuums while my 6 year dusts all of the baseboards. Once those are done, I mop the entire floor. I also wipe down all of the kitchen cupboards and the outside of the appliances. I finish by cleaning the guest bathroom. Obviously I do not give my children tasks they cannot complete up to my standards. I wouldn’t ask my 6 year old to vacuum because I would just have to redo what she has already done because she tends to miss a lot of spots. I know she can handle the baseboards and do a great job, so that’s the task she gets. And yes, we do give our children an allowance each week, which helps them clean without complaint.
- Clean the inside of your fridge and stove once a month. If you stay on top of this, it really doesn’t take too long. I usually just do this whenever I’m feeling super energetic!
- Spot clean as needed. I typically pull out my vacuum several times a week in the kitchen. It’s where most of the action happens, so I will run the vacuum quickly to get up any small messes or crumbs. This helps keep them from being dragged into other areas of the house and only takes a few minutes of my time.
- Laundry – I hate laundry. Hate it. We use to do a load a day, but recently we’ve enlisted my 15 year old – but before I get to that, I’ll tell you how we use to make it work! The kids each have a hamper, and my husband I share one. As the hampers fill up, I empty them into a 4 bin rolling cart that I keep in the laundry room, that way laundry is always on hand that needs washing. Each morning before work I would throw in one load of wash. When I arrived home, I would throw the load into the dryer and then as I was finally sitting down to a little TV in the evening, I would quickly fold that one load. Since it is only one load, it is manageable and I could easily put it in the kids rooms to be put away, etc. But as I mentioned, we have a teen that wanted extra money, we had a job we hated, so we worked out a deal. She does the laundry throughout the week and we pay her. She has to make sure she does it correctly though, otherwise she’ll loose her job! She runs them through the washer and dryer and folds them into piles. Then each person is responsible for putting their clothes away. I will admit this is where my younger kids fail and I typically put them away once they bring them up to their rooms and drop the piles on their floors.
- Dishes – Again, we enlist the help of our children for this. They are responsible for loading and unloading the dishes, while I clean the counters and table tops.
Obviously I don’t have all the answers, and your situation may be different than mine, but I swear by creating a cleaning schedule. I think if you can look at your days and break up the cleaning into more manageable pieces, you’ll see that your home stays cleaner and is less of a hassle to take care of! Getting into a routine will help and staying on top of cleaning is key. The longer in between cleans, the longer it takes to get it back into tip top shape! It’s not easy being a working mom, keeping house, raising kids, so try to make things a bit easier any way you can!
Glad I found this, there are good tips in here. Thank you for sharing. I’m a young, working, single mom, and a first time home owner and I’m on my feet until 10:00 each night trying to tackle things and I’m burnt out. You said that you used to wash a load in the morning, and you’d put it in the dryer when you got home. The clothes didn’t smell bad after sitting that time? Thanks.
Hi Kat, It’s not always easy, but kudos to you! I didn’t have issues with the clothes smelling bad. If they were forgotten and sat over night, then yes, yes, there was an issue, and yes, that has certainly happened once or twice. 😉 If you’re able to go home at lunch time, then switching it over quickly at that time would alleviate any concern of smell.
Thank you! Getting home at lunch is not an option but I think I will try your method. 🙂
Some washing machines have timers that you can set for a load to finish after a specific time. so for example set it for 8-9 hours and the washing will start later and will finish when you get back home
I am going to implement this on our home. I have been struggling with HOW TO KEEP OUR HOME CLEAN. and this structure is the way our home is setup! You’ve saved Me! Thank you!!!!
Hi Kim. I’m so ecstatic that I came across your article. It is extremely hard to juggle 40 hour work weeks away from home, cooking dinners, helping kids with homework and cleaning a house. I love having a clean home but refuse to be married to housework. Like you, I have hardwood floors throughout my house except for in our basement. I was wondering which stick vacuum you use or have tried and recommend?
I’m happy you found it useful! I have a Dyson Stick and I LOVE it. It is super lightweight and is cordless. Because it is so light and easy I can grab it while I’m waiting for the water to boil or something to finish in the microwave and get in a quick vacuum. I do also have a Roomba that I set regularly in the bedrooms of the house – to help get the dust bunnies and such under the beds.
What about your mop? What kind of mop do you use on your hardwood floors? I have a toddler who likes to feed himself and a drooly bulldog that likes to “clean up” after him. Mopping is a nightly chore at our house, but I haven’t found one that I love yet.
This post is inspiring, btw. Thank you so much for sharing your routine!
Shannon, I haven’t found a mop that I’m totally in love with. I use to use the Swiffer mop because of the convenience, but it leaves streaks on the hardwood floors in our new house, so I don’t use it anymore. I’ve been using a microfiber mop with Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner. I have several heads that are machine washable. Mopping is a fairly regular chore for me as well, since we have two pups!
Good luck! If you find something better, make sure to share.
Hello! I know your post was a couple years ago, but I too have the same set up in my house with hardwood floors throughout. I also have area rugs. I use the dyson stick vacuum as well and love it. I also just purchased the Bissell Crosswave Pet Pro surface. It is a vacuum mop combo and I absolutely love it. It doesn’t really save a ton of time, but I don’t have to crawl around on my hands and knees to wipe up water residue that my steam mop would leave behind and there are no streaks.
On another note, Kim, your article truly hit home. I too refuse to be married to housework. I love having a clean house and how it makes me feel but time with my kids is way more important. When figuring in drive time, dropping off and picking up kids, I am away from home for 50+ hours a week. Juggling work, kids, housework, and still having time to connect with your significant other is really hard. Thank you for your post. It really brought some insight and I hope I can take it all into action. What is your advice on getting your significant other on board with helping around the house when he views it as the Mom’s job and has high expectations?
Hi Heather, I’m glad this resonated with you. It’s always nice to know others are in the same boat!
As most of us know, it is very hard to change a person that is set in their ways. I was always pretty adamant that my significant other would contribute to the household, just as I would, so that is an attribute I looked for. I grew up with a dad helping with housework, so it was natural for me. In my marriage I did the majority of the inside housework and he did the majority of the outside work, though he did laundry and I helped with weeding/mulching. I did handle the majority of kids doctors appointments and school stuff, just because my job allowed me too, more so than his. It was something that worked for us. I think it is important to communicate with your partner. Have you discussed needing more help? Start the conversation. It doesn’t need to be accusatory or confrontational. Marriage is about loving and supporting each other daily.
interesting find, I am married but my husband is disabled and my son is 3. So all the housework lands on my shoulder which runs me dry on energy. So find this with great tips is awesome. I will definitely try out the cleaning schedule tip, it might help me not feel so over whelmed.
Hello Kai, I know it’s been a while but I wanted to say I can relate! My hubby is also disabled, though we have no kids. My husband cannot drive either so it feels like most of the daily things fall to me, plus I’m the only income and I run my own business.
I want to keep everything beautifully clean but it’s such a challenge, even though my husband helps as much as he can (he does the dishes and helps care for the cats!)
I work 2 jobs one is full time on the weekdays and another job part time on the weekends. My kids are 3 years old and 8 months old. My fiance is not very good on keeping things up when I cannot because he also works a full time job on the weekdays between the kids andy two jobs I neber get to rest and barelly get to clean my house the way it should be done do you know any tips that might help me keep up on it a little better? Also my 3 year old likes to get into everything and make messes we have been trying to get him in the routine of picking up when hes done playing or eating but I cant seem to get him interested in it and ive tried toys for a reward little treats like popsicles and letting him watch blippi for 2 episodes instead of one but nothing is working. If you have and advice please tell me because im exhausted and my fiances mom,comes and watches the kids and shes always displeased with how I cant keep up with my house and how little free time I have and how me and the kids barelly get out and how I dont cook huge meal every night sometimes they are only,small meals like chicken nuggets and French fries and some fruit but that is all I have the energy to,do sometimes I want to keep my house clean my kids happy my fiances mom happy my fiance happy and me happy but I cant figure out a system that works yet and I’m exhusted and worn down any little bit of advice will help
You sound like a very busy mama! And it sounds like you are doing your very best. My best advice is to do a little each day and try to do a “deep clean” (dusting baseboards, lights, wiping down door knobs, behind the toilets, etc) at least once a month.
Not being able to do big elaborate meals each night is not the end of the world. Feed them clean, healthy meals, and be present with them as much as possible. Maybe you can set aside one night a week to do a bigger meal as a family?
Your fiances mom watches the kids, but her judgement is not welcome. Is she able to assist in cleaning?
And remember to take care of yourself! Try to eat as healthy as possible to help with energy, drink lots of water, take a walk during lunch, or on a break and remember to tell yourself that you are doing your best!
I just read your post and my heart goes out to you. I was the same way until I started asking for help. Your husband needs to help you on the weekends when he’s home and you’re working your part-time job. I am sorry to hear that your mother-in-law judges you instead of empowering her son to help you. If you are paying her to babysit, perhaps you can ask her to clean or cook. Typically, a nanny does those things as part of their duties.. Working full time and a second job is not sustainable long-term and you need to figure out a way to restore and de-stress. Keeping a home is the responsibility of both partners! Take care!
Thank you for your support of Jessica and your wise words!
I’m glad you found a solution that worked for you as well.
I’m really impressed with how you did it. Being a full-time working mom is not easy, you need to be organized to make all the house works done. I would love to share this idea, teaching your kids with household chores will really make a big help. This will help them to become more responsible and prepare them for real life.
Oh, my kids all have chores. They are responsible for their own rooms, they have dish duty and assigned chores throughout the week such as vacuuming and moping. Children should definitely be involved!
I like what you said about vacuuming your floors every once in a while. I need to get a cleaning crew tend to my fridge. I don’t think the shelves have been cleaned in years.