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Cleaning with kids in the house is like brushing your teeth with Oreos in your mouth.

Before having kids I had a fairly clean house. Most Fridays you could find me dancing to 80’s music with the vacuum and tackling my cleaning to-do list, on a mission to reveal sparkling results…in a under an hour. Here’s the crazy thing (okay, crazier than that comment about it taking less than an hour): the clean house stayed that way all week! These days might be a little bit different.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Cleaning with kids in the house is like brushing your teeth with Oreos in your mouth”? Three kids, one husband, a few more square feet of space, and a four legged barking pet have changed my goal from ‘sparkling’ to ‘good enough.’

For a while I was ok with the change. Afterall, I was a mom and my dirty house was a just sign that it was well lived in. However, I soon discovered that I was either stressing out and wasting valuable time cleaning for hours on end every time someone was going to stop by, or bouncing around in cleaning mode all day long, leaving my poor kids in ‘wait a minute’ mode indefinitely. It was time to try something new.

I Created My Own Cleaning Schedule

I searched online for cleaning schedules to conjure up something brilliant, but what I found only devastated me instead. The list of ‘daily’ tasks completely overwhelmed me and made me feel like a failure before I even began.[Hopefully I don’t do that to you with this article!]

In order to be successful at the cleaning game I had to create my own plan. Below you’ll see a copy of my personal plan.

I encourage you to modify this to fit your own cleaning style. If you don’t want to dust your living room every Thursday, make it a biweekly occurrence. What matters in the end is that you have a realistic, stress-relieving schedule for you.

Click here to download the printable version…[download id=”3″]

Prioritize and Organize

I went room by room and tried to figure out what should be cleaned in each, and how often. I didn’t go crazy, but I did include things that were a bit out of my regular habit [i.e. cleaning the blinds – the worst task ever].

Next I put together a schedule with two tasks and/or areas to be tackled each day, in addition to one designated load of laundry. I broke the remaining chores down into bi-weekly, monthly and seasonal categories and divided them into a four week rotation [doing this is much harder than the cleaning itself, so hang in there]. Although some months have five weeks, I left the schedule with four, leaving the fifth to catch up or simply relax. There are some things that I do daily [i.e. wiping down crumbs, sweeping up dog hair and cleaning dirty dishes], but I chose not to add those to my schedule. Those undone items staring at me by the hour were reminder enough!

I tried to group chores by area so that I wasn’t running from the bedroom upstairs to the craft room downstairs. I also organized the schedule with the main floor placed toward the end of the week, so that it was cleanest over the weekend, when we tend to have the most guests.

Here is a breakdown of the tasks on my schedule, and how I chose them.

Task Timetable

WEEKLY – Although most of these chores don’t require daily work, they typically should be done one time a week to keep the house visitor friendly. For me, those things included dusting, vacuuming, cleaning appliances, cleaning bathrooms, etc. I chose tasks that my husband typically assists with on the weekend and we usually bust these out first thing Saturday. These items are shown at the top of my schedule in BLACK.

BI-WEEKLY – The tasks I added to my bi-weekly list are things that show if I ignore them, but that aren’t crucial. Included are such items as vacuuming the stairs, washing slider windows and cleaning hand-prints off our entry walls. These items are shown in BLUE.

MONTHLY Here come the tough guys…the ones I really don’t like doing, but really need to be done every once in a while. These tasks include organizing the shoes, organizing the refrigerator and pantry, and cleaning the dreaded blinds. They are shown in GREEN.

SEASONAL – There were some tasks left that I decided could be done once every few months [and that was being generous]. Included are washing windows, organizing closets, cleaning the oven, etc. These are shown in ORANGE.  I tried to mix in some easy ones, such as vacuuming under cushions and washing the inside of our garbage bin, so that every weekend I wasn’t taking on a major task. In addition, I left openings in the first weekend of the month for things such as putting up and taking down the Christmas tree, weeding, racking, etc. These are labeled ‘SEASONAL’ tasks.

Reading the Schedule

I post the schedule on our refrigerator, and refer to it daily. If you’re looking at it now, you’ll see that on Thursday January 24th [the fourth Thursday in January], I dusted the living room, vacuumed the main floor, washed towels, and washed my slider door windows.

Change It Up

If this has completely overwhelmed you, please know that although the initial set-up takes a little time, this has made my family’s life so much easier. There is an expectation that comes every day. The kids know what has to be done. I know what has to be done. It’s emotionally rewarding, and when it’s done consistently…it gets done so fast!

If you do decide to make your own schedule, please remember these things:

1. No one schedule will work perfectly for the same two people. Make it work for you, your house, and your family. This is pretty type A, so if you’re not, maybe try something else. Not everybody cares about the dust on their silly dark blinds.

2. Be ok with skipping a day. Skip two. The best part about this is you’ll be starting over in a week; so if you don’t get it done, you can catch back up soon enough.

3.  Involve the whole family. Assign tasks, or let the kids pick their own. By doing so, you are instilling great habits and a sense of responsibility.

4. Remember your goal – mine was to organize my time so that I didn’t pull away from my family all day long. The clean house was just a bonus.

Do you have a current cleaning schedule?  What does it look like?