Our days only have 24 hours. Since we have to sleep for some of those, there’s not much time to squeeze in everything else. So how do I balance housework and freelancing?
The same way I juggle the rest of my life. By minimizing my decisions, putting routines on auto-pilot, and enlisting my family for help.
Here are ten specific tips for keeping the house livable without taking a ton of time.
1. Make a Cleaning Schedule
You can’t get your whole house clean and then just expect it to stay that way. Especially when you have as many kids running around as I do!
No, our house needs maintained. I’ve learned (the hard way) that it’s way easier to maintain a house than to clean the house.
So make a schedule. We tackle a room each day. That’s the day we perform deep cleaning and maintenance on that particular room.
It’s enough loving that the rest of the week we’re able to keep it clean with minimal effort.
Find a routine that works for you, and stick with it.
2. Add Two 15 Minute Cleanups to Your Day
These have been a game changer in the housecleaning department! Every day, after our schooling activities have ended (which is usually right before lunch) and right before my husband gets home, we have a 15 minute cleanup.
I put on a playlist of the same songs, and grab the broom. I sweep everything into a pile and the kids are responsible for putting it all away.
Seeing a pile with toys in it is pretty self-explanatory, even for my younger kids. I no longer have to spend these 15 minutes dictating.
Once we get the main living/dining room picked up, we move onto the focus area of our house for that day and tackle one thing each.
If we still have time (which happens occasionally) we dust something, clean a window, or straighten up a drawer. Everyone keeps working for the full 15 minutes.
When the music stops, everyone finishes the job they are currently working on, and we move on with our day.
3. Have Morning Chores
A long time ago I implemented morning chores. We revisit these each July, and then they stay with the kids a whole year. Here’s the set they currently have, though these will be changing soon:
14 Year Old
Pick up girls’ room except for toys & books, bring down dirty laundry
Clean the bathroom sink
7 Year Old
Pick up boys’ room
Clean toilet (a job he asked for all on his own!)
6 Year Old
Make bed (she’s our best bed maker and her brother often trades her a chore for making his!)
Pick up toys in the girls’ room
Laundry out of bathroom
4 Year Old
Make bed (a work in progress!)
Pick up books from upstairs and put back on shelf
Take the garbage out of the bathroom and put a new bag in
2 Year Old
Help make bed
Help clean up toys in boys’ room
These chores keep everyone on track in the morning. They also keep our bathroom livable. Which, with ten people sharing one is very important!
The kids know what to do in the morning, and I’m not constantly reminding them what they have to do.
4. Have Afternoon Chores
Our afternoon chores are super simple. They help us tackle one area in the focus area of our house.
We do them after quiet time, before snack. Food is very motivating to get done quickly!
These are tasks like organizing cupboards, wiping the front of the stove, cleaning the mirrors–all of those things that need done, but don’t need done every day.
They help keep the house clean!
Our afternoon chores typically take 5-7 minutes to complete.
5. Simplify Cleaning Supplies
I used to have so many different cleaners. Now, I just have a couple. My all-purpose cleaner is a homemade one using this simple, three-ingredient recipe.
It’s natural, and safe for the kids to use.
I also keep some bleach spray on hand that I use when the other cleaner just won’t cut it. There are times when good ol’ bleach does the best.
I also use a ton of microfiber cloths. The kids use these to clean the windows, dust, and wipe the appliances.
The only time I don’t like them is when my hands are dry in the winter from choring. Then they feel horrible and I grab a different rag. But most of the time I love the microfiber!
I got rid of the mop and we use rags and scrub the floor by foot, Pippi Longstocking style. Except instead of skating on brushes we skate on rags. But we do sing her awesome song!
Minimizing cleaning supplies has freed up space and money for other things, and keeps it from being overwhelming for my young helpers.
6. Don’t Redo What the Kids Did
You know what? My seven year old doesn’t always get the same result that I would when he cleans.
Surprise surprise! He’s 7!
But what would I be teaching him if I immediately jumped in and did the job myself.
There are times when I have him redo it under my supervision, but if he’s honestly done the best job that he can, I leave it.
I’d rather something be a little less clean than to teach him that his work wasn’t worth it.
I’ve lowered my expectations when it comes to cleaning–and that’s been a tough one for me! But, each year it pays off more and more as the kids get older and better. They are learning to pay attention to detail and do good work!
7. Teach Kids to Put Away Their Stuff
This one is essential in our house, because my disabled son will literally destroy and eat everything that’s left out.
The kids learn pretty quick to clean up their stuff and get it back away before it’s eaten.
But, it’s an essential skill for all kids really. Take care of your stuff and don’t leave a mess for anyone else.
8. Have a Place for Things
Kids have a hard time keeping their things clean if they don’t know where they go. We’ve had a much cleaner house since getting rid of the big toy box and having small tubs for like items.
The kids put them where they go almost all the time now.
I’ve been shocked at how much organization helps keep everyone on track.
9. Have “Company Coming” Drills
When I was a kid, my mom used to encourage my sisters and I to clean by asking us to pretend that her boss and his wife were dropping by and they’d be there in 15 minutes.
It was motivating to have a reason to clean–to get the house in shape.
I’ve carried a similar version of this over to my kids. If we’ve had a crazy day, and the house needs an extra dose of cleaning time, we pick a cartoon character who’ll be coming to visit.
After we get the house clean, we put on a TV show and enjoy a quick snuggle.
It’s been a fun way to get cleaning done. Our goal is to keep our house company ready in 15 minutes–the amount of time it’d take someone to get here from the nearby town.
Our daily and weekly cleaning schedules help keep it pretty close.
10. Remember Your Attitude is Huge
If I go drill sergeant on my kids and start yelling about the state of the house, I’m not doing anyone any favors.
They just get grumpy too and now instead of one grumpy person, there are a bunch of us.
I try to ignore small messes until our normally scheduled cleanup times. Sometimes the two year old dumps the LEGO bucket. Sometimes the one year old empties the blankets out of the coffee table.
That’s life–messes happen. Your attitude has a huge role in how the mess gets handled.
So keep your cool, and everyone can pitch in. The work will get done more quickly!
And remember to thank your kids for their help!
Those are some of the tips I use to balance housework and freelancing.
What are your tips? Do you have cleaning run on auto-pilot too? I’d love to have you chime in with your best tips in the comment section below.
PS: If you’re looking for other tips and actionable steps to minimize your decisions and free up more time to grow your business this summer, check out my course Balancing Diapers and Deadlines.
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