Keeping the house clean and presentable isn’t always easy when you have toddlers or young kids. In this guide I will share my practical tips and strategies to keeping my home neat and tidy without feeling so overwhelmed or stressed.
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Dreams, Goals, and Reality
First, and foremost, it’s always a great practice to visualize your expectations. This is good advice for any endeavor; however, we will practice this with how you want your home to be.
Think about your home and the space you live in the most. Without changing the furniture or items in it, imagine how you would like it to look every day. Below are my examples.
A perfect living room in my home is one where a lovely smell fills the room, either a candle, essential oil diffuser, or an inviting aroma coming from the kitchen. The space is free of clutter. The couches are free of clutter, and inviting loved ones to sit and share conversations with one another.
A perfect kitchen to me would be clutter free countertops, a sparkling sink, dishes cleaned and put away, and an inviting snack or treat on the counter.
A perfect dining room is a cleared off table, with flowers (real or fake) as a center piece, and the floor free from the crumbs that the baby has thrown down! Little stinker!
The perfect bedrooms have beds made, clothes in their respective places, and toys cleaned up. Oh, and of course, a fresh vacuumed carpet with the lines in them!
The perfect bathrooms smell fresh, have clean counters and toilets, and no clutter on the floor.
In my opinion, the kitchen, living room, and dining room are the three most lived in rooms and they will need the most daily attention.
Your most lived in rooms may differ and if so, you will shift your daily/weekly tasks from mine slightly.
But, let’s get real.
If these are the places that we are living in the most, and kids (especially little ones) are a part of creating memories in these spaces, then the reality is that it’s going to get messy…really messy…all the time.
I keep my vision in mind and strive for the previously mentioned outcomes. However, it’s important to strive for these things while not expecting these daily results.
There is a great quote that helps me balance my reality and my picture-perfect home goals.
A home should be clean enough to be healthy, but messy enough to be happy.-Unknown
This quote puts me in check quickly. It reminds me that the most important goal is to have a healthy home, not a perfect one.
I want our kids and friends to feel comfortable enough to live and visit all while feeling like they can relax in the home.
This is all about finding your balance between cleanliness and clutter. Next, I will share my routine and how I keep my home presentable (not perfect) 99% of the time with four young children.
Daily routines are important for a healthy home. An applicable verse from the bible comes from Proverbs 31:27. “She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.”
As a homemaker, you may lack motivation when working on the same old mundane tasks each day. However, a virtuous woman will not sit around the majority of her days scrolling her phone, watching tv, or lounging.
She will instead see the value in completing the tasks of her home. The peace it will bring to herself and her family will be a huge gift.
I can see the value in this so much. I feel burdened by just the mere sight of a cluttered kitchen with dishes piling up.
However, when my home is presentable, the stress melts away. Then I am able to enjoy and focus in the moments, which is where I’d prefer to spend my energy!
I understand that it can be boring because at times it may not feel mentally challenging. However, I find that I feel very relieved by a job complete at the end of the day; regardless of whether I grew mentally.
For our family, having the home tidy/clean is helping my kids learn a valuable lesson. So, regardless of how I view it, it is valuable.
Maybe for you it is difficult because you are in a unique season of life, such as being sick, having a baby, a surgery, or taking extended care of a loved one, etc. Give yourself grace during those times. When you are ready, you will get back on the horse.
If you are just needing motivation now, read on!
Daily housekeeping goals
- Wake before the kids – this is not always doable. (Especially for me when I am pregnant or postpartum.)
- Read your bible – this is an encouraging way to start your day on the right foot!
- Get yourself and your kids dressed – even if you don’t plan on leaving the house. This is important for feeling good about yourself and getting goals for the day accomplished.
- Unload the dishwasher in the morning – this is a chore owned by my eight-year-old.
- Make the bed(s): get your kids involved, and remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just praise them for getting it done. Redoing it could crush their confidence so be proud of their efforts and offer advice if need be!
- Straighten up shoes – We have a ton of shoes in our family of six. This is a chore all my kids own at some point.
- Complete a load of laundry daily – this depends on the size of your family.
- Wipe down the kitchen counters – after every meal.
- Clear the table – after each meal. Another chore owned by all my kids during different years.
- Tidy up all kids toys before bed – All the kids own this one.
- Sweep/vacuum the dining room/kitchen floor before bed.
- Run the dishwasher before bed.
The goal is to maintain cleanliness throughout the day and prepare each night for a clean living room, dining room, and kitchen.
This sets you up for starting your daily routine without delay. Starting the day with a clean home will make breakfast or doing homeschool lessons less overwhelming. It also just feels so great to wake up to a clean house – like a fresh slate for starting the day.
Tips for daily tasks
This daily cleaning checklist is for myself and my able kids. Usually around 2 years of age and older can participate in some of these daily routines. If you have young kids, I want to encourage you to get them involved as soon as possible.
My 14-month-old “helps” unload the dishwasher and puts the soap tab in before I load the dirty dishes. He also knows how to put toys away into their bin.
Of course, he doesn’t organize anything and often times when he is included, things are slowed down significantly. However, teaching your kids that daily housekeeping is normal and a part of life will help you immensely as they grow.
The effort you put in while they are little will pay back 10-fold as they grow.
Besides being a great help to you as your family grows, it allows them to learn how to take care of their own things and to be responsible for their valuables.
A rule all my kids know is that if a toy breaks, or has missing pieces, it goes in the trash. This encourages my kids to take care of and put away their toys.
Weekly housekeeping goals
- Monday – Bathrooms: remove clothes that may have piled up, clean countertops, sinks, tubs, toilets, floors, restock toilet paper, and change out hand towels.
- Tuesday – Wipe down fridge, dishwasher, small appliances.
- Wednesday – Vacuum all the carpet in the home
- Thursday – Mop tile/hardwood floors.
- Friday – Dust everything (surfaces in all rooms, trim around the doors, bookshelves, etc.) and clean glass windows.
Tips for weekly tasks
These weekly chores help focus on doing a deeper cleaning of the home. Breaking it up throughout the week helps tackle the tasks without feeling overwhelming.
You better believe I get my kids involved, and you can too! This teaches them that they have a deep responsibility to help in the home.
I teach them that their help adds value to the home. In return, they know they are a part of deeper cleaning so they don’t go around making as many messes. They also feel very proud contributing to a job well done!
My eight-year-old and five-year-old have often told me that they love being in a clean home. They usually express this after we have all rallied together to get a job done.
It goes to show that my kids don’t like the clutter and mess, just as much as my husband and I don’t.
Saturday and Sunday are free from extra chores because life is busy. Piling up your plate with extra to-dos will cause burn out.
Take the weekend off from extra cleaning. Instead focus on other things, such as, meal planning, scheduled activities, errands, or whatever your family needs to thrive. Maybe all you have the energy for is just getting your daily cleaning goals accomplished – and that is perfect!
Month by month housekeeping goals
- January – Flip/rotate and vacuum mattresses
- February – Organize and get rid of expired foods in the fridge, freezer, and pantry
- March – Wipe down the walls/get rid of old clothes, shoes, accessories, and other unnecessary items in the home
- April – Detail the family car
- May – Clean bathmats and clean carpets
- June – Clean out cupboards and wipe inside and out
- July – Flip/rotate and vacuum mattresses
- August – Organize your filing cabinet or papers and purge what you don’t need
- September – Organize and get rid of expired foods in the fridge, freezer, and pantry
- October – Detail the family car
Tips for monthly tasks
Often times my husband and I tackle these bigger projects for the month.
Since my kids are still little, I don’t get them too involved in the yearly chores. They can help in some ways but I have them mostly focus on the daily/weekly tasks and owning those for a whole year. If you have older kids, they can help with many of the bigger projects you set for your home.
November and December are free from extra monthly goals because they are the busiest time of the year for our family. It’s also a time to rest. Instead, we focus on time together rather than completing projects.
Therefore, I just focus on getting daily and weekly chores done during the holiday season.
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The Housekeeper’s Guide To Create A Cleaning Plan
Planning your routine may sound redundant, but let me explain.
- Set achievable goals for yourself each day. Once those are routine, add weekly and monthly goals.
- Figure out which room is the most important to keep the cleanest and make that your daily goal. For me it’s the kitchen. It is the most used room with the most mess. Therefore, it’s crucial for me to have a clean kitchen to think straight and not feel overburdened by my responsibilities. If nothing else gets accomplished on my list, but I have a clean kitchen – then I am doing okay!
- Are you a checklist type? In this area, a checklist is super helpful to stay focused and on task. If you feel like marking off your items gives you motivation, print off my free checklist or jot down your own checklist on a paper. You may need to reevaluate if you are not meeting your daily or weekly goals. Maybe you need to shorten your to-do list. If it’s an option, get your kids more involved. Or if it’s just been a busy day, then it can wait until the next day or week. This is just supposed to help guide your routine, not drive your day!
- Assign your kids tasks in the daily and weekly housekeeping goals. Have them own it for a year so that they can grow and gain confidence. This helps establish their daily routine so that they don’t come asking you every day – “what am I supposed to do?” They will know it!
- Set expectations for yourself and your home, but allow yourself grace. We all have hard days. See them for what they are and work on getting the next day’s goals accomplished. If it’s not urgent, it can wait until the next day or week.
Why even get kids involved in chores?
With the exception of my 1-year-old, they all help make beds, get dressed, fold or put away their laundry, set the table, clear the dishes from the table, and tidy up their toys/rooms.
That leaves me with loading the dishwasher, cleaning the countertops, sweeping the floor, vacuuming, and starting laundry each day.
Imagine if you try and do it all yourself – you may feel tired. Or maybe you are doing it all yourself because you feel like it gives you a lot of value in your family structure. However, allowing your kids to be involved takes some of the load off you (maybe not at first since teaching takes time, but it will in the long term). It also gives them value and purpose in the family structure.
It is also valuable to them because some day they will grow up and leave your home. If you don’t teach them the important skills of keeping the home and being in a good routine, then they will become adults that don’t know how do simple tasks or they may struggle to know how to take care of themselves.
The Housekeeper’s Heart
Lastly, I want to talk about gratitude. You may be wondering how this fits into an article about keeping your house clean, so let me share my thoughts.
It can be easy to take things for granted.
There have been seasons in my life when I have certainly lacked gratitude for where God had brought me in my life and the situation he had placed me in.
I was recently talking to my oldest about a book she is reading for school. The main character was grumbling to God in prayer and felt like he was distant from her.
Through a series of events, she realized that she was focusing on all the things that were going wrong rather than seeing all the ways God had blessed her during her trial.
How many times have I been annoyed with dishes piling up? Or the toys scattered on the ground like a minefield waiting for me to step on them? Or the never-ending laundry that piles in their baskets?
Shamefully…it is countless.
But as I continue to grow in my own walk with the Lord, I am finding the value of seeing what a blessing these tasks, or messes are.
A good verse to remember comes from 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
The dishes piling up represent all the meals made for those I love most. Thank you, Jesus, for the nourishing food and the ability to make healthy home cooked meals for my family each day.
The scattered toys on the ground show a home lived in during the day time. Thank you, Lord, for the kids that live in this home today, I am grateful for the wild imaginations enjoying our home and the company they bring to me daily.
The never-ending laundry piling up in their baskets means we have an abundance of clothes. Thank you, God, for providing for our needs and allowing us extra.
But most of all, thank you Jesus for the ability to do all these things, allowing me an able body from head to toe to accomplish all the many tasks I do each day.
Turning these complaints to gratitude helps me see it all with new eyes. I no longer see it as a burden but instead as a blessing!
Now, I am not perfect, and I still complain at times. However, I am working toward a more grateful heart and this is how I am doing it! I hope it helps you too!
This is a great teaching moment for me and my kids daily. As we all know they can become grumbly at times too. Reminding them how you turn your heart around to gratitude will help them as they take on chores in the home too!
Please share your thoughts on how you keep a clean and tidy home. What would you add to my lists?
Let all things be done decently and in order.
1 Corinthians 14:40