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I don’t know about you, but when my house is messy, I can’t concentrate. I’m so busy looking at the mess and fretting about it that my creativity plunges.
That means keeping my house at a certain level of cleanliness is essential.
But, as a busy homeschooling mom with a growing freelance business, it’s tough to find time. There are only so many hours in a day, and I sure don’t want to spend many of them cleaning.
Thankfully I’ve discovered a few tricks to keeping the house livable without it consuming a ton of time. Here are ten specific tips for keeping your house clean while running a business.
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.
Write it down. Put it in your planner. Memorize it.
Whatever works for you — do it!
The less you have to think about what to clean, the better. That means it’s become a habit, which is what you want.
Tip: I make an annual cleaning schedule. Otherwise I’m having to stop and learn new things too often.
2. Add A 15 Minute Cleanup to Your Day
Quick Cleans have been a game changer in the housecleaning department!
Every day, 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 what they should do.
Once we get the main living/dining room picked up, we move on to 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.
It’s a no-fuss way to quickly make a significant improvement on the state of our house. It’s amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes of teamwork.
And remember. Each person working adds 15 minutes to the workload. So when I have six kids helping clean, it’s like working for 105 minutes!
3. Have Morning Chores
A long time ago, I implemented morning chores. We revisit these each July, and then they stay with the kids for a whole year.
I assign each child a couple of tasks to get done each morning. These are a combination of personal care, cleaning the bedroom, and cleaning the bathroom.
Here are some of them:
- Make bed
- Tidy books
- Bring down dirty laundry
- Self-care (brush hair, get dressed, deodorant, etc.)
- Clean the bathroom sink
- Pick up toys in the bedroom
- Clean toilet
- Gather the dirty laundry from the bathroom
- Take out bathroom trash & put a new bag in
- Check the toilet paper, soap, and towel supply
- Clean tub
These chores keep everyone on track in the morning. They also keep our bathroom livable. Which, with eleven 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.
At the start of each chore year (in July), I make the younger kids picture charts to help them learn their new tasks. It really doesn’t take long for everyone to learn what to do.
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. They are focused on the room that my chore chart is focused on that day.
One day, we may be in the kitchen — the next the living room/dining room.
Having one extra job to do in each room during this time helps keep the house fairly clean.
5. Simplify Cleaning Supplies
I used to have so many different cleaners. Now, I 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. Especially when you have a disabled son who occasionally has poop parties…
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 used 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 she cleans.
Surprise surprise! She’s 7!
But what would I be teaching her if I immediately jumped in and did the job myself?
There are times when I have her redo it under my supervision, but if she’s honestly done the best job that she can, I leave it.
I’d rather something be a little less clean than to teach her that her work wasn’t worth it.
I’ve lowered my expectations regarding 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. That’s Pica for you.
The kids learn pretty quickly 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.
If you don’t have a place for something, consider getting rid of it. We often declutter our playroom and bedrooms because stuff just seems to pile up.
The less you have, the easier it is to clean!
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 cleaning the house, 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 usually scheduled cleanup times. Sometimes the three-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 tips I use to keep the house clean as a WAHM.
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 year, check out my course Balancing Diapers and Deadlines.
Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.