Melissa Barrett via Compfight
A lot of people have been asking for tips on homemaking. While I’m not the world’s greatest homemaker (at all), there are some things that work for me. I plan to share what I do know, and we can muddle through the rest together.
In our home, we have a general daily routine and part of our routine is the chores that we do to keep our home looking decent. No, it isn’t perfect. Yes, there are areas that are just awful (like…my bedroom, or the laundry), but we at least get the basics done and keep the main floor reasonably clean. Even with three crazy children and me blogging quite a lot.
Coming up with small ways to get the things that you need to do as a part of your schedule will help you stay on top of things. I promise.
Our Daily Chore Routine
We all get up around 7 am everyday. We spend the first little while sitting around together and having a snack. Then, by 8 or so, I head into the kitchen to start our morning chores. This usually takes 20 – 30 minutes each day. Our morning chores include:
- Emptying the dishwasher and re-loading it with breakfast and other dishes
- Emptying and re-filling the ice trays
- Re-filling the Berkey water filter
These are the ‘must do’ things on my list each day. Depending on what else is going on, I might also:
- Start a load of laundry
- Get meat out for lunch and/or dinner
- Sweep the kitchen floor
- Start cooking lunch/dinner
- Add yeast/salt to soaked bread and set to rise
That’s pretty much all I do in the morning. I can get it done in under 15 minutes if I’m pressed for time. If I have cooking chores that day, it will take a good 30 minutes. If I also need to wipe down counters or the stove, it takes 45 min. or longer, but I do this usually once a week, on Mondays. (That is — scrubbing things down, not a quick swipe!)
In the afternoon, we have another bout of chores around lunch/nap time. These are spread over a two or three-hour stretch but much of it is not actual work time.
It generally looks like this:
- Around noon, I supervise the kids cleaning up the playroom — all toys, dishes, trash picked up
- I make lunch, and serve the kids close to 1
- While they are eating, I do any dishes that are around
- We play outside for a little while, then they head for naps
- I get out meat to thaw/start dinner
- Kitchen floor is swept
- Any other baking/cooking
- Switch laundry, if needed
- Vacuum carpet, if needed
I usually get up while the kids are napping and take care of a few chores in between eating and blogging. Finally, we have an evening chore set.
Before I go to bed:
- Kids’ toys picked up again (if needed)
- Dishwasher loaded and turned on
- All food put away/cooking projects finished
- Dough/ beans/grains out to soak, if needed
- Empty and re-fill ice trays
That’s typically what I do everyday!
The Big Chore Day
On Mondays I usually do more than other days. I typically do not schedule any major activities or plan to go out on Mondays. In addition to all the chores listed above, I usually:
- Do laundry
- Vacuum floors
- Scrub down kitchen counters/sink
- Clean toilets
- Other ‘as needed’ cleaning
I do these cleaning chores throughout the day. Typically I vacuum after the kids pick up pre-lunch time. Kitchen cleaning happens in the morning while I’m doing most of my kitchen chores. Cleaning toilets and the majority of laundry happen at nap time. If laundry doesn’t all get done (which is more common than it should be), we catch up over the weekend.
On an as-needed basis, I will also do things like changing sheets on beds, emptying trash, pulling clothes out of kids’ drawers and putting them away (if too small/season changes), wiping down walls, dusting, etc. I do not have any schedule for these things; I simply notice that they need done and make a plan to do them in the next few days. Some people have seasonal “schedules” and they do all of these things on a regular basis, monthly or quarterly or whatever. I cannot make myself stick to any such schedule so I simply do things as I see I need to.
I also tend to make Mondays my ‘baking day’ if I need one, or the day when I do any other major kitchen projects.
Creating Your Own Schedule
Ideally, everyone will have a 15 – 20 minute block of ‘chore time’ in the morning and the evenings, during which the most important chores, like dishes, sweeping floors, wiping counters, early meal preparation, etc. can be completed. Stay-at-home moms can also use afternoon times.
Some people are very task-oriented and like to have a specific list of chores to do, and an exact schedule to do them.
Some people like to have a finite amount of time for which they will work (like a ‘Fly Lady’ type system).
Everybody thinks differently, which is why it’s important to find a method that works for you. A ‘Fly Lady’ system has been recommended to me dozens of times, and if it works for you, great! It doesn’t work for me. I like to dive in when I see something needs to be done and just do it, however long it takes. I don’t like timers telling me when to start or stop. I don’t like lists of daily chores (that are not absolutely necessary) that I ‘must’ do in order to keep my home nice. To me, shining my sink daily is a waste of time. That’s just how I think.
Ultimately you must find a system that works with your personality and schedule. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
- What chores must get done each day?
- How long will these chores take?
- Which ones occur in a similar area of the home?
- Which ones can be started/completed simultaneously?
- What is my “chore style” — short, scheduled bursts/scheduled list or as-needed?
Plug into your schedule the chores that must be done in an order that makes sense. Getting meat out to thaw for dinner can be done the night before or the morning of — depends on how you intend to thaw it. Laundry’s best started earlier in the day so it doesn’t sit in the machine all night.
Then, look at your areas — work all your kitchen chores to occur at the same time, if possible. If you need to do work upstairs (putting away laundry, changing sheets, cleaning bathrooms), work those in at the same time too.
Finally, which chores can be completed simultaneously? It only takes a few minutes to knead bread and set it to rise, and then you can be doing other chores while you wait. While a pitcher of water is filling to re-fill the water filter, you can be putting away dishes. While laundry is going, you can be working on anything else. Start things that will take very little of your active time and a lot more “wait time” earlier in the day.
Ultimately you will evolve a schedule that works for you and your home.
Enlist the Kids
My kids are part of my chore plan, although they have minimal responsibility since my oldest is not yet 5.
They are responsible for picking up their toys when we clean the playroom (although they need my guidance especially if it is messy). The older two put their own clothes in their dressers after I wash and fold them. They are responsible for putting their dishes on the counter after meals. Sometimes they help empty the dishwasher, especially the silverware (which they can reach).
What is most important at their ages, besides their self-care tasks, is them observing me doing these chores. They talk about doing “morning chores” now too. It is a part of what we do. Whenever I do something that they can help with, they want to (especially if it involves cooking). Asking the kids to pitch in as they are able as well as modeling cleaning behavior is important to helping children become little homemakers!
Children under 5 can help with:
- Removing sheets from beds (some older ones can help put them back on, too — my almost 5-year-old can)
- Putting dirty clothes, towels, etc. into a hamper or laundry basket (even 1-year-olds can do this)
- Putting away clean dishes in low cabinets
- Putting clean clothes in drawers (by age 3 or so)
- Wiping down counters with a wet wash cloth
- Wiping down windows/mirrors with vinegar-water
- Picking up toys (even 1-year-olds can do this, if guided)
- Carrying small bags of groceries into the house
- Helping feed a pet (age 3 – 4)
- Taking dirty dishes to the counter or dishwasher
- Kneading bread (by age 2 or so)
- Shaping meatballs (by age 3 or so)
- Dumping and stirring while cooking (by age 2 or so)
- Cutting up vegetables with a butter knife, while supervised (by age 3 – 4)
- Picking up bits of trash (even 1-year-olds can do this…but they often start throwing everything away!)
There is probably more than that. But the point is, young children can help out a lot. Include them!
How do you keep your home reasonably neat and functional?
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