Sweet Tiffany and I were both new to Chattanooga when we became blog friends and quickly in-real-life friends. We’re fortunate to call her family our friends here!
Boy oh boy have I learned this lesson the hard way. It has been drilled into my stubborn brain over and over again. As a work-at-home mom, as a wife, and honestly, even as a human being, I just can’t do everything. It is a humbling discovery.
And also a liberating one.
Since I can’t do everything that I want or need to do, I have to prioritize. I make an impossible to-do list, and then I start to attack it, aiming for the most important and/or most urgent tasks first. Anything else that gets accomplished is a bonus. I apply this philosophy to the limited time I have to work as a blogger, and I also apply this philosophy to housework.
How This Work-at-Home Mom Cleans
This is the system that works the best for me. If you are trying to find a method that works for you, consider giving this a try, whether you work outside the home or inside (and by the way, I absolutely believe that stay-at-home moms and dads are actually WORK at home moms and dads!).
The basic system I use is to pick one room/area of the house each day to focus on for cleaning. In my home it looks like this:
- Monday: guest room/office
- Tuesday: kitchen
- Wednesday: dining room/living room and stairs
- Thursday: Darah’s room
- Friday: Layah’s room
- Saturday: master bedroom and stairs
- Sunday: bathrooms
The very first thing I do when it is time to clean a room each day is to imagine that company is coming over in 5 minutes and will be exclusively hanging out with me in that particular room. I set the timer and I go crazy for that 5 minutes, tackling the most embarrassing/critical messes first.
Why do I do this? Because here’s the truth about working from home, whether you have kids with you or not: some days that 5 minutes is all you’ll be able to give the room. It’s just the truth! You may be behind on your projects and need to devote as much time as humanly possible to them. Or if you have kids at home, they may be having one of those days where they are NOT on board with you being productive in any way beyond playing with them. I’ve experienced both scenarios on many different occasions, and I have found that if I can do that 5 minutes of gangbusters cleaning in a room, I’m less annoyed if I don’t get to do anything else to the room that day.
On days when the kids are more cooperative or my work schedule isn’t slammed, I do try to spend additional time cleaning in those rooms. The truth is that unless company is coming over, there is very rarely more than 1 room clean in my entire house at a time. That’s all I can handle. And that’s ok. I can’t do everything, remember?
Dealing with Constant Messes
Ok, so cleaning the kitchen once a week is obviously not at all practical unless you don’t use your kitchen. My family is home for all 3 meals of the day, most every day, so our kitchen is a major work horse in our home. That means that it is constantly dirty. I do have on my calendar to do 10 minutes of cleaning in the kitchen every day, just to keep the mess contained to a level that isn’t absolutely horrifying. Tim also is great about cleaning the kitchen whenever he has a few minutes (and lest I give the wrong impression about him, I should add that he is great about cleaning all-around…not just one area of the home). So with the 10 minutes of daily cleaning in the kitchen, that does help. If you have a similar disaster area in your home, I would suggest implementing the same daily system. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes the 10 minute rule isn’t enough to keep the kitchen from looking filthy. But I can’t do everything, and doing something, even if it feels like spitting on a fire, is better than nothing.
Dealing with Less Frequent Cleaning Tasks
I also have written in my planner various cleaning tasks that happen once a month in our home. You may want to think about what types of things you need to accomplish regularly, though not weekly. My monthly cleaning projects include the following:
- clean all mirrors in the house
- clean the microwave
- wipe down all appliances and cabinets in the kitchen
- clean the washing machine
- clean the coffee maker with vinegar
- sort unmatched socks
- wash the canvas shopping totes
I’m sure there are other things, but that’s all I can think of for now.
I hope this helps those of you out there who are feeling overwhelmed with all of your responsibilities. I really do not believe it is at all possible to maintain a clean house and have kids living in that same house. And if you have work obligations that extend beyond raising those children but aren’t extending any grace to yourself for not having a Better Homes & Gardens home, then please embrace the truth: you can’t do everything. The sooner you accept it, the freer you will become to do the somethings that you can do, and to do them well! The dishes can wait, I promise.
Tiffany can be found over at Stuff Parents Need, highlighting products and services that make life a little less hectic and a lot more fun for parents of young children. She gives away more presents than Santa Claus, so be sure to hop over and get entered into her fabulous giveaways!