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Parents with clean homes and no maids- how do you do it?

3831 Views 60 Replies 41 Participants Last post by  Leilalu
I'm on summer break right now (I'm a FT college student otherwise) with 3 kids. I've decided to try to keep my house clean, it's usually a mess-very cluttered, can go weeks btw mops and vacuums, etc. I've been working almost constantly for the past 3 days and you can't even tell I've been doing anything. I've washed walls, mopped floors, washed and dried laundry (not folded or put away) vacuumed, shampooed the carpets where the muddy dog was, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, etc. I feel like I'm getting nowhere. A few years back, I tried a daily schedule so I'd have a checklist to go by- I'm going to try to get back to a schedule like that so I can get things and also enjoy the kids- but please give me some ideas. I don't like living in a mess constantly and it drives dh crazy. He likes everything neat and clean. He's not on me to do this, I want to do this, but need some ideas.


P.S. I didn't search for info on this yet- so if there is already a thread on it, please let me know.
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How do I do it? OCD helps some, paying the older kids to help out (they'll do anything for a dollar!) REALLY helps.
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I would love the answer to this question. :LOL

We live in our house practically 24/7 so I could spend all that time cleaning and while I was doing one room the next would be getting trashed. I focus now on laundry, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, "picking up", cooking. The older kids do help pick up and clean bathrooms. My house never looks clean.
2 mindful I have ONE child compared to y'all's many
But here's some of my tricks for when the house is actually clean...I don't always stick to it. I put on a dry erase board what room gets cleaned which days. I kept it to 1/2 to 1 hour of cleaning. I also have a 15 min pick up in the evening right before bed. And I have a dh that helps a ton...he's cleaning as we speak. I also get dd involved as much as possible. She has her own *chore* list on the board
It's not much, feed the animals, set the table, help clear the table, feed the fish. (These are all fun for her...)
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My dh also does a lot on his days off, but he works 12 1/2 hr days, plus an hour or more commute each way. So, that's a good 14-16 hr workdays- I don't want him to have to come home and clean. He also does the yard work (dog poop, cut the grass, trim bushes, etc.), wash the cars, etc.

What I did before- if it helps any of you- was to have a checklist for each day of the week so nothing got TOO bad. Dishes, pick up and vacuum were every day. One day was kitchen (where I would clean the stove, sweep and mop, completely clear the countertops,etc.), another day was living room (dusting in addition to the regular stuff), another day was 1 bathroom, another day was the other bathroom. A small load of laundry every day.

If I get something new hashed out, mixing my stuff with your suggestions, I'll post the 'official' list. :LOL It's such a challenge- my dd likes to help to a degree, but not all the time and the 2 little ones mess up faster than I can clean it, you know?
I am not the best to answer this question....I only have one ds, I am a ft sahm, and I do have ocd-those things combined, my house is always sparkling. I would like to state that I am not bragging
, unfortunatly for me I want to stop being so anal about it, take more time enjoying my son and less time worrying about spilled juice & crumbs....I just cannot control it.
I think doing certain chores on particular days is a great way to do it-you said you had a schedule before and that, imo is a great way to tackle it. Once you get into that routine it becomes a lot easier. Friday is polishing, mopping, bathrooms...I start in the morning, ds gets to watch a Kipper, color at the table-something where we are in the room together still. On things like sweeping or mopping he likes to "help." It takes a little longer, but again, then we're still together. When I clean the bathrooms, he comes in and brushes his teeth or plays in the sink, again, this makes it take a little longer....

my ds still loves to ride in the sling, so quite often, I'll toss him on my hip or back while I do dishes or other chores...
I think I really do it little by little throughout the entire day.
When you get settled in and do it regularly, it doesn't require as much work on a day to day basis either, kwim? That's a big help! Sure, I clean everyday, but how dirty can it really get in 24 hours?
On a bitter sidenote....
I would like to add that having the help of a dh/dp is wonderful! Or so I would imagine. My dh (although I love him dearly), does not clean a thing, and that isn't even an exaggeration. He's the take my clothes off and throw them on the floor where I'm standing, dirty dishes in the sink, I'll shave and leave hair all over the bathroom counter and not think twice about it type of guy.
Anyway, that's how I do it.
My two suggestions...include your kiddos (harder but more fun), and schedule, schedule, schedule!
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With three young kids and another on the way, my house is lived in, but clean. I agree with pp...make a schedule, make that schedule a routine, and involve the kids. My oldest are almost 5 (next week! Eek!) and 3. On Mondays, DD1 dusts (there really isn't much and she uses a feather duster which she loves!) and DS1 wipes down the tv and the back door. Daily they put away toys (it would be nice if I could get them to put a toy away before getting another out. They are getting better, but...) and before bedtime stories they pick up their room (doesn't take that long). But since toys are a major clutter aspect in our small home, it helps a lot that they help!

Anyway, my only other suggestion is to use a timer! I set my timer anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes, depending on what I want to try and get done. Then I'll take a small break and go at it again. Before I know it, my chores for the day are done and the house looks decent! Then the kids and I spend the rest of the day doing fun stuff together.
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I clean once a week, only spending maybe an hour (usually less), and the upkeep the rest of the can be iffy at times.

But once a week, I get the floors taken care of, the bathroom cleaned, and also throw in some other duties that need to be done (I typically alternate weeks for things like dusting, wiping off cabinets, getting handprints off the walls--and yes, I'm dorky enough to use lists to keep track).

My dd is just a little younger than your oldest, and honestly, I hold her pretty responsible for her messes that are around the house. I don't harp on her about her room very often, but about once a day I insist that she tidy up the messes she's created elsewhere. And she puts away her own laundry. While I'm folding, I fold her clothes into seperate piles for each drawer, and she can easily take back her pile for her underwear drawer, then take back her pile for her shirt drawer, then her pants drawer pile.

Things like dishes and laundry are the hardest to keep up with, and while I do a decent job, esp being tired and pregnant, I'm not always as on top of things as I'd like to be. If I didn't get to the dishes after dinner (and I often don't), then I do that very first thing in the morning. I've also recently started the habit of washing one load of laundry every day. I wouldn't think that for our small family, we'd even create that much, but I have 3 hampers (hot, warm, cold), and doing one load every day means that the loads are smaller (read: quicker to fold
) and laundry doesn't end up piling up to where I spend a whole day just on laundry anymore. I actually don't end up doing a load every single day, but the habit means that it's done at least most days. And the days when each hamper is just too empty, that's when I throw in a blanket, or some sheets, or the shower curtain.

Again, first thing in the morning makes all the difference for me. First thing, throw a load of clothes in, check the trash, and knock out the dishes asap. It's not unusual to find yesterday's load in the dryer, when I put today's load in the washer. Again, even not getting to folding and putting away the same load in exactly the same day, it's still less stressful.

Clutter can get VERY overwhelming, but at least doing my less than an hour weekly cleaning helps me feel better that at least it's just mess, and not dirt.
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I have 2 kids. I have a 2 yo and a 6wk old. I am very into keeping my house clean...may be a little OCD :LOL I clean up my house everyday..I do a load of laundry a day so I don't have it piled up. I pick one day a week that I do MAJOR cleaning. This is either done on Thursday's or Friday's. I scrub the floors, scrub the showers, tubs, toilets sinks, mirrors..well you get the idea. I take all the light covers off and place them in the dishwasher. I vaccumm daily though. I clean all the windows and the vents on the MAJOR cleaning day. I sling my infant when I'm mopping or when I'm not cleaning with chemicals near by. I have my 2 yo take a bucket of barely filled warm water and a clean rag and she "washes the walls" she enjoys helping me out. I dust on the MAJOR cleaning day. Once you stay persistant and cleaning MAJORILY once a week it makes things much easier!
It can really be constant. I rotate on different things like mopping, bathrooms, dusting etc so I don't have to have one whole day where I am doing nothing but cleaning. I like to break it up throughout the week. But, the vacuum is used everyday. Making sure everything is tidy the night before helps. First thing in the morning I unload the dishwasher and throw a load of laundry in. Then you can go filling the dishwasher throughout the day and run it last thing before bed. I use pledge when I dust because it makes my dusting job last about a week. Laundry donw during the day gets folded at night while I watch a good TV show. Laundry is usually a family thing around here. You can keep it in a huge basket with a lid that you use only for clean laundry so it doesn't look messy while it is waiting to be folded that night. I do clean out sessions once a month where I declutter and donate or sell stuff. I find that clutter really makes a difference in wether your house looks clean or dirty. Semi-gloss paint is a must because you can wipe the walls down, this is done once a month. Carpets cleaned once a month. These are things that really make a difference IMO. I wish I had hard floors really.
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It is actually quite simple. You just need to do the work of cleaning it each day. I find that there are people who "talk" about how they need to clean their house because it is such a mess--but they are all talk and no action! You need to physically clean the house each day, and spend one or two days a week (a few hours at a time) REALLY cleaning it by mopping and doing more heavy work.

I make certain that before we eat the next meal of the day, all the dishes are done (put in the dishwasher or washed by hand for the pans) for the previous meal. I would *never* under any circumstances make dinner in a dirty kitchen from lunch. I can never think of a scenario were that would be okay with me--the kitchen need to have a clean workspace before I can start with the next meal prep. This means that sometimes I haul ass cleaning it if I am in a hurry to get it done--working REALLY quickly to clean it. That's okay, I can work fast! I do almost half my cleaning very quickly--it can be done. I am talking clean like you are in a race to get it done type of cleaning. It keeps things interesting and is a good workout. If you are a slow cleaner, you will drive yourself mad because you will never finish.

I don't put stuff off. I got home from dropping my older kids off at school with my little one and remembered that I had some pee-pee sheets, comforter, and mattress pad to do. If I was lazy about it or unorganized it would sit there all day while I contemplated doing it--but I would rather just run in the house and grab it all up and put it in the washer. I will put it in the dryer before lunch, and before I pick my kids up from school I will have the bed completely changed and that room cleaned. Before lunch I will go around the house and make sure that stuff is picked up, bills are organized, and look for more laundry to do. I can go into the bathroom and clean the toilet, wipe down the sink and do a spot mop of the floor in 5 minutes flat. It is *so* easy to keep a bathroom clean, and takes very little time, yet people procrastinate about actually doing it.

I also am very quick to throw stuff out that we don't need. I am not a pack rat at all, and that helps to keep us organized. I dontate to the local thrift store once a month--I would never live in a house with lots of stuff and clutter because it would drive me crazy. I like to have a cozy house with things that we need--but would never live with tons of junk.

So, you have to be willing to do the work of cleaning each day, and also keep your house organized and clutter free.

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Thanks for all the great tips. I'm going to be incorporating many of them.

Lisa- you hit the nail on the head. I'm a HUGE procrastinator. I've been getting better and better, but still have a long way to go. I think once I get the major stuff under control, it will be easier (and a bigger motivator) to keep it up. Dh will also be able to help on his days off (either 3 or 4 days a week) so I can set up major stuff on those days.

I don't like having one full day each week for major cleaning, I'd rather do small stuff all week long, so I'll probably have one smallish major job (if that makes any sense whatsoever) each day. I suppose I can try one day of major cleaning at least for a bit, but that's what we did when I lived with my parents and it stayed clean for about 10minutes and was trashed the rest of the time.
You need to physically clean the house each day, and spend one or two days a week (a few hours at a time) REALLY cleaning it by mopping and doing more heavy work.
Seriously? At least 6 hours a week of heavy cleaning, in ADDITION, to daily cleaning? Clean for a few hours at a time, a couple of times a week?

How much dirt can there be?

Are you mopping, like, 4 times in a row? Going over each tile in the whole bathroom with a toothbrush?

My weekly cleaning really takes an hour or less.

Scrub the shower and tub: 5 minutes. Clean the toilet: 30 seconds. Clean the bathroom counter: 30 seconds. Wash the mirror: 30 seconds

Sweep the entire home: 6 or 7 minutes. Mop: 10-15 minutes. Dust in every room: 4 minutes

If you try to clean a tidy home, it doesn't have to take a lot of time. I don't have knick-knacks that need intricate, delicate dusting. I don't have stuff out on display that needs to be cleaned. I go around with my duster, and get the horizontals (which are largely cleared), over the tops of the books in the book case, along the tops of pictures hanging on the walls, tops of doors, basically over anything I can that dust might settle on. I sweep twice a week, and mop once a week. Every so often, I go around with my wet rag, to find fingerprints on walls. Windows are done as needed, which isn't often now that I don't have a toddler who smushes her face and hands against all the windows she can reach.

Keeping the house tidy on a daily basis takes much more work than cleaning a tidy home, imo. There's work to be done in the kitchen several times a day. Making sure people actually put things back where they belong, that takes work (I sooo shouldn't have to say to dh to please put his dirty clothes in the hampers instead of in a pile on the chair in the bedroom).

Keeping things organized takes more time. I have to regularly "clean" my desk, meaning go through all the mail and flyers that have piled up, or keep up with the little notes I've written to myself. I have to go through the catch-all drawer in the kitchen every so often. I have to go through dressers to get rid of clothes that don't fit, or aren't worn anymore. I have to rotate the ridiculous amount of toys, because if they're all out, it's chaos. THAT's the stuff that takes time for me.
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You might want to check out A lot of people really like her system (and a lot don't).

You can also find a list of checklists here
My kids are older, but its the 2nd week of summer vacation, and already i'm pissed, and feel like i am shoveling sh!t against the tide

I had a mini meltdown yesterday, but i reeled myslef in. I like a clean house, but hate to clean, so i have a real problem.

I am constantly on the kids to pick up after themselves. Put your crap away. I keep them out of the front living room, which helps me more psychologically than anything. I load and run the dishwasher sometimes twice a day. My husband does the laundry. I make the bed every day. and i throw crap out. I hate clutter, hate it. I dont have alot of nick knack thingy-s, and my kitchen counters are bare. I straighten up the office everyday.

My kids do the bathrooms, and do them well. I do the tub/shower. I dont have a set day to do this, although i was thinkiing about doing a deep clean today, as i have alot of schoolwork to do, and i have to work tomorrow and friday, so i dont want the stress of a messy house come this weekend when i barricade myself in the office to get it done.

It doesnt take me 6 hours, but it does take time, and more than one hour. When i do the bathroom floor, think of the movie Mommie Dearest "SCRUB TINA, SCRUB!

I also began taking the kids to the pool. I straighten up before we leave, stay at least 2 hours, then come home to a clean house.
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I have a wonderful hubby, who when home from work (works 3 weeks on, has 3 weeks off), helps with the housework.

My 6yo and 3yo also help with cleaning - they dust, pull clothes from the dryer, my youngest puts the spoons away from the dishwasher, my oldest sorts laundry, they make their beds (not always the best, but its ok with me).

We also did a major clutter clean and gave away half the things that needed to be dusted or kept up and didn't really have meaning for us.

We also live in our house 24/7 since we homeschool and I'm a WAHM (work at home mom). I also have a schedule. I do laundry one a day a week (usually Thurs/Friday - only about 4 loads) and then do vacuuming/dusting/toilet scrubbing/mopping one day a week (Fri/Sat). And it doesn't take me all day - I do the laundry around homeschooling, lunch, etc - And the vacuuming/dusting etc may take 2 hours at the max. But then again we don't have a huge house either.

I keep the kitchen spotless by cleaning up after cooking, and putting things away when done using them, and not having a lot of clutter. I don't make the kids clean their room *every day*, but at least 2 times a week they have to pick up their mess. I just shut the door and don't look at it :LOL They have to pick up anything they place in the main living areas (dining room/family room/etc). They put away crayons after using them, take dolls upstairs to their room after playing etc. It's something they've been doing since they were old enough to walk (about 18 months - they can pick up toys to put in baskets at this age and it helps with motor skills and its a cool game to them too)

Sometimes when there is more dust than usual - I just let it sit till it's dusting day. I can't live with dirty dishes - so I make sure I never have any. I can live with dust for a few days instead of stressing myself out each day about having the "perfect" house. Make yourself a priority with what you can live with and what HAS to be clean or you'll go crazy.

Who needs a housecleaner when the whole family pitches in?

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I struggle with this myself. I have a hard time keeping up with the clutter and really don't enjoy cleaning. Things I do that help a bit are:

Laundry every single day. Or I'll wash a bunch at night and hang it all out in the morning if it's sunny. I actually enjoy laundry, the only chore I like.

We do dishes once a day, only after dinner. Sometimes DH does that.

we try to pick up the LR and other toy-infested common areas before bedtime so it isn't quite as overwhelming in the morning. We aren't great at this though.

When I'm in the bathroom I'll scrub the shower while I'm in there, or I'll wipe the sink/mirror with the facecloth before I toss it into the hamper. Or I'll wipe something dusty when I'm in there anyway. I hate cleaning the bathroom all at once.

I ask DH to help. I explained that the way I feel about housework is that when it's your 'job' to be the house-slave and clean all day (because housework expands to the amount of time available) versus 'getting to go to work' it becomes opressive-feeling and I get resentful of it. When it's not your 'job' and you feel like you're helping out your partner, then it's more rewarding to clean up the house. No one ever thanks me when the floors are clean or even notices when I wipe the woodwork and clean out the junk drawers, but when he does it after I ask, you'd think he just won a gold medal he's so happy with himself. Oh well. It works for me (sometimes at least).
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I agree with the pp who said she cleans a little every day. Thats the way I get it done too. I clean a specific room (or rooms, like both bathrooms since they're small) in the house from top to bottom one day each week day. Dust, scrub, vacuum, swiffer, whatever needs to be done. If I vacuum or swiffer I will run it through all the floors in the house while I have it out. It takes me 20-30 minutes per day maximum. On top of that I do dishes daily (I keep a dishpan of soapy water for the dirty dishes to go in, then pop them in the dishwasher at the end of the day, soaking them keeps the food from custing so there's no rinsing/manual labor involved
), a load of laundry daily (sometimes 2 since dd is still in cloth diapers), pick up the playroom (all toys stay in the playroom, it keeps me sane) and wipe down the kitchen table, counters and floor if necessary before going to bed. In all I would say I spend maybe 45 minutes dealing with house chores. My house isn't spotless, but it isn't a distaster area either. Keeping up with messes my dd makes daily and the cleaning really has helped us. My house used to be a shambles. I would clean one day ALL day on the weekend, then I realized I could be spending that day with my dh and dd instead and divided the cleaning up through the week and came up with this schedule. Its been great. Obviously not for everybody though.
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UGH, I havent done any cleaning since Terrick was born. I really need to get back into the swing of things. What works for me is coming up with a time that I need to start cleaning. So, I clean at 10 every morning. I like the house to be clean when dh comes home for lunch and thats at 1130. Usually that 1 1/2 is more than enough to get everything done for the day and then some. Of course, it only works if I actually do it.
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