How do you keep up with your housework?

We have a small place and our standards aren’t high but my LORD we are finding it impossible to keep up with our housework. I’d like to know how other Doper families stay on top of things.

When I look around at the dust on the mini-blinds, the cat and dog hair on the furniture, the piles of laundry that need to be put away … it’s overwhelming and I feel like we just get one thing done and in the meantime three other tasks have cropped up.

My husband and I both work full-time and we have a 3 year old daughter.


What is this thing, housework? Just kidding; I feel your pain. If it makes you feel any better, I’m single and live in a one bedroom condo which currently is a mess. Every so often, I set aside an hour or two and concentrate on clearing the clutter in one area, the next day clear more clutter for an hour or so, and so on. Eventually, the piles are thrown away and most of the dust bunnies are swept up. I hope that future readers of this thread have good strategies to dealing with cleaning on a regular basis cause I’m fresh out of ideas.

I’ve got an Ipod and I will save one of my favorite podcasts to listen to when I have to do chores I don’t want to do.

When I lived alone, I would give my place a good cleaning, and I made some rules:

  1. Everything has its own place.

  2. If I have more stuff than I have places to put it, then it’s time to start purging stuff or increasing my storage capacity.

  3. It should never take me more then two minutes to find anything I own at any moment.

  4. My place should be clean enough to be presentable to unexpected company at any time.

  5. My place should be just as orderly at the end of each day as the beginning of the day (i.e., don’t leave dinner plates out on the table. If you use something, put it back before you go to bed, etc.)

  6. A chore is incomplete until it’s complete. In other words, laundry was not complete just because clothes were clean. Laundry was complete when clean clothes were stored away. The chore of making a meal was not complete until dishes were done afterward.

  7. No dirty dishes allowed to fester in the sink for more than a day. If you have a dishwasher, all dirty dishes go in there until it’s full. Then, you run it. As soon as you open it to get a clean dish, you must put all the clean stuff away immediately to make room in the dishwasher for dirty dishes.

  8. Saturday or Sunday morning before noon was time for laundry, dusting, sweeping, bathroom, and to make up for any lapses in following the rules during the week.

Of course, this ideal was not perfectly implemented, but I managed to keep a pretty clean and orderly place the vast majority of the time. I never found myself burdened with a huge mess that would kill an entire day trying to fix.

In sum, I found it easier to keep a clean place clean than to soil a place then drag myself around trying to clean up a huge mess later.

Hi medstar - this site didn’t work for me but maybe it might work for you?

(I’m also posting this so no-one else suggests it, in the hopes that they’ve solved my housekeeping woes!) :slight_smile:

Keeping up with housework. Is that even possible? We don’t have kids yet and we’re already a mess. The thing is, I get frustrated at a much lower level of untidiness than my man does, so I feel like it’s always my problem to deal with. Which gets me sort of grumpy.

I try to do some during the week but I work a weird schedule so it’s not easy. And then by the time the weekend gets here there’s so much to do that it depresses me.

I think we need a chore list to check off weekly. Sounds silly but I don’t know how else to do it.

You sound like me. I hate to say it, but my standards have dropped. I will do basic clean up and I try to keep the kitchen pretty clean (do the floor once a week usually) but I’m seriously considering paying someone to come in and do a deep cleaning. I just can’t hack it with the hours I work.

I did windows last week (all but two) and I feel good about that!! But right now, wish it was a LOT cleaner.

If you’re got a few extra bucks, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s perfectly reasonable to trade money for time if it’s money you have and time you lack.

I have several friends I talk to long distance once a week or more. Whenever I get on the phone, I put on the headset and clean while I talk to them. In the 2-3 hours I spend on the phone per week, I get most of my chores done. It’s much less onerous to do them while conversing. That is NOT to say my house is ship-shape. It isn’t. I tend to leave all the worst stuff to do on Saturday after breakfast, which is not often enough.

I work three days a week, my husband four days, our baby goes to the daycare three days, leaving me two afternoons of free time, mostly spent on chores and housework.
We also have a cleaning lady coming in three hours a week.

I found it is a mistake to think you’ll have the energy for housework in the evenings; a baby or toddler can exhaust you so when you’ve put a way the dinner stuff, all energy is gone. Housework needs productive hours, like anything else.

What has helped me some, is to go to bed after dinner (eightish, nine ish) then wake up refreshed and with more energy at about 24.00, and do one or two hours of housework then before going to bed again. It fit my biorythm better then lying in front of the TV from nine to bed time, like a zombie, too tired to really watch the screen or do anything else.

I should emphasize that I was a single guy in a small place when I did this. Now, I’m married with pets to care for in a house. Things aren’t quite so easy these days as far as housekeeping goes.

I read somewhere that if clothes and dishes are in the appropriate place, then everything else is just a sign of a life well-lived. I try to stay on top of those two things.

More importantly, we have someone come in once a week to change the sheets and towels, clean the bathrooms and kitchens, and dust and vacuum. This by itself is hugely helpful, but it also means that we have a Thursday morning deadline for picking up all the clutter that has accumulated over the week.

1/ get a cleaner. There is NO substitute for this, assuming you can afford it - but if you can, do it; this is the REAL trickle-down effect!. In a large house weekly, otherwise fortnightly. Otherwise you’ll let things go (“one more week won’t make any difference!”). Also it means that the night before the cleaner you’ll put stuff away, clear the floors, etc, so they can use their time more effectively.

2/ for the rest, do it as you go. Do not let stuff build up, perhaps on the thought that it’s more efficient to do it all in one go. The place looks dreadful in the meantime. In a 3-person house I do all the clothes washing at least every second day, probably averaging 4 times a week. Dishwashing on demand but I’d guess in our case twice a week.

Never leave stuff in the sink, the bedroom floor, next to the ironing board or anywhere else waiting to be processed. When you come home with the weekly shopping put it all away, and then deal with the detritus immediately. Deal with mess as it is about to be made, not afterwards. If you can’t stand ironing and that’s your roadblock - give all those clothes away (and I mean ALL) and buy ones that don’t need it.

The most dispiriting and de-motivating thing is to find piles of stuff-to-do everywhere as you walk around your house. It is supposed to be a place for you and your family to live in love, not a constant debilitating reminder of work undone. When you have a washing machine or dishwasher load ready, no matter how little you feel like it put it on now, and empty it immediately it’s done. Tedious though it is at the time the mental clutter it saves you is worth it.

This is very true. We have a 3-year old and are expecting a newborn in November. My husband and I both work full time and we’ve decided that our current goal is to get to the point where one of us (probably me) can have a more flexible schedule and/or work from home.

In the meantime, we’ve determined that what works for us is to, whenever possible, eat at the same time as our son (about 6 or 6:30), which allows us to put him to bed on a more relaxed, less harried schedule, gives us time in the evening to spend time together and get some good rest. It also helps us manage our chore time so we’re able to follow through with things instead of start them in a lackluster manner and never manage to follow through. I do most of our cooking on the weekends so all we have to do is heat food up instead of go through the whole dirty-the-dishes/clean-the-dishes thing. All we really need to do is stack the dishwasher and manage any typical spills a 3-year-old makes.

I think the flylady, mentioned upthread, has some really good ideas, like making a daily routine. She’s extremely, extremely annoying, but the suggestions she makes are sound.

To me, it’s clearly so much easier to do one day’s worth of dishes than three, or do laundry a couple of times a week instead of spending a whole day doing a week’s worth (provided, of course, that you have a washer and dryer at home), or to spend ten minutes every night putting stuff back in it’s place, than it is to deal with a week’s worth of clutter. Think of it the same way you think of a work project. You don’t just let it sit there until the day before the deadline, right? You get a little done every day.

Of course, no matter how tired I am, I can’t relax anyway if there are dirty dishes in the sink, or random crap laying on the tables or floors, so for me that fifteen or thirty minutes a night I spend cleaning up is vital to my sanity.

It also means that my Saturday “deep clean” is reduced to dust/sweep/mop/change bedding/whatever else needs doing without having to spend any time actually picking stuff up and putting it away.

I try to make sure the dishes are done daily. I try to pick up some every day. I do laundry as soon as a hamper fills enough to make a good load (in theory anyway.) And I do my heavier cleaning on Saturday or Sunday mornings. Oh, yeah, and I don’t have very strict standards either. :smiley:

Also, I’m terribly amused by the username/post combination of the OP.

I’m another one that just tries to do something every day. I also just keep stuff picked up, if something is out of place it needs to get dealt with sooner rather than later.

Yeah - just a combination of doing things as they need to be done, combined with regular housecleaning over the weekend. Each of us has chores which are our responsibility to do weekly.

If you make a point of putting things away pretty regularly, you may be surprised at how quickly the place will tidy up. It also helps to get a few supplies that help clean - and keep theme where convenient.

Some bigger jobs like washing windows or deeper cleaning need to be done less frequently, and we just tackle them when we feel they need to be done - maybe once a year, in which case it just takes a couple of hours on a weekend. Of course there are areas of our house - say behind some furniture - that have never been vaccuumed and likely never will be until we move. If we are doing some more major chore in a particular week, we may intentionally go a little lighter on the routine cleaning that week, and pick up the slack the following week.

Having kids actually helped us keep things clean, because we felt we were setting a good example of caring for our belongings.

Finally, a good bit of our cleaning practices are attributable to our always having had golden retrievers - 2 at present. If we didn’t sweep/dust/vacuum regularly, the dust and hairballs would be pretty incredible!

I don’t know how big your place is, but ours is smaller. Unless someone lets in a pack of dingoes over a long weekend, we can clean the whole place in about an hour.

5-beds, 2/5 baths, 2 adults, 3 kids AND a pack of dingoes (well - 2 goldens, which I bet shed MORE than dingoes, tho they eat fewer babies!) Quick cleaning can be done by 2 people in 1 hour, thorough cleaning in 1.5-2 hrs. All it takes is a decision that keeping the house clean is sufficiently important that you ought to set aside 1-2 hrs a week for the purpose.