Our lists of things to do can be overwhelming, leading to procrastination, avoidance, grumpiness, or despair. Ever been in that spot? After listening to a few objections about not having enough time to clean after a long day of work, I decided to share some tips that I have found helpful in managing household chores in a busy life. It may seem like common sense to spend a little time early on to save a lot of time later, but we often do the opposite. We think we’ll have more time later so we push it off. This, of course, only makes things worse because our mess increases, and we always seem to be running behind. So here are some little tricks that will help tame the chore monster.
- Sort mail upon receipt. Toss or shred the junk and file the important. Recycle what you have already skimmed. We have our appropriate bins set up in the garage for quick access. Set aside magazines, newspapers, or other letters to read as time permits. Remove piles from counter and place in designated spot. For example, I always put bills in a folder which is in a drawer to pay on a day set aside for that task. I also have a calendar with my bills that I make notes on about expected bills and due dates so that everything gets paid in a timely fashion. This doesn’t take long and eliminates piles of unread mail.
- Set aside certain days for laundry. I pretty much do laundry every other day, but if you have a smaller family, perhaps you could get by with doing it only twice a week. My first load is started before breakfast with a goal of being done by lunch. My mom prefers to do small loads every day, but my dad is a farmer so his clothes can be smelly. On these days, the laundry gets washed, dried, folded, and put away. It’s manageable because I haven’t let it get out of hand. On laundry days, I usually do two or three loads. I generally fold it as soon as it is out of the dryer, except for towels, which can wait until the second load is done. Then I do all the folding. I fold everything and leave in piles until the laundry is completed, except for items that need to be hung immediately. Those are hung. If something needs ironing, it is set aside to do later. (I don’t iron much anymore.)
- I used to set aside one day for cleaning, but then nothing else ever got done because there was so much to do. I’d end up upset because everyone else was out having fun while I was slaving away. Now, I do certain chores on certain days. For example, I wash floors on Saturday, vacuum on Monday, dust on Tuesday, clean bathrooms on Wednesday, etc. Certain chores like sweeping the floors and washing out sinks are done as chores regularly by my children so everything gets done. It’s easier to spend 45-60 minutes doing intense cleaning each day than waiting to do it all in one day. You can break it up into smaller time frames too, like 15 or 30 minute increments. No one says it has to be done in one swoop. Of course, when full cleaning days do come—which they always do—everyone in the family chips in so we can have fun sooner when the work gets done.
- At the end of each day, I like to have everyone put their stuff away so that the house is free of clutter.
- Big chores like cleaning the refrigerator or oven are worked in as needed when the schedule permits.
As my helpers grow up and move out, I will have to modify my way of doing things, but this schedule helps my lived in house stay relatively clean.
Tackling little jobs right away and scheduling in the big jobs keeps me less stressed. In the end, I can only do what I can do on any day. What system have you developed to keep your chore list manageable?