I work more than fulltime on parenting two small girls, being a wife, mama, chief cook and bottle-washer, while also holding down a position in the paid workforce. I have no time for clean-under-the-fridge tips for keeping house, when all I need is a basic idea of how to keep my home clean, neat and tidy, with less than half an hour a day to spare for it all.
I have two separate but equally important aims for housekeeping when life is full on – clean and tidy. Here’s how to break it down while you’re working fulltime and not go insane.
Do a bit each day. Don’t catastrophise the housework! It’s never as hard or as long as you think it is, and once you get started time – and dust – flies. Set a timer and tackle one of these jobs in the morning, and another in the afternoon or evening. Save the deep clean for the weekend or a night where you have more energy, knowing that doing small bits each day means the house doesn’t turn into a pig sty requiring hours to clean.
Kitchen – 12 minutes
- Clean out the sink and give it a scrub (1 minute).
- Grab a clean cloth out of the cupboard. Run a sink of hot water with a good squirt of detergent (1 minute).
- Meanwhile, pack the dishwasher (4 minutes).
- Wipe down the benches and stovetop (2 minutes).
- Wipe spots on the floor that you can see. If you leave them, they attract grime and grot and the weekend mop will be that much harder (2 minutes).
- Sweep the floor, drain the sink and hang up the tea towel. Chuck the cloth at least in the washing machine, if not in the bin (2 minutes).
- BONUS ACTIVITY: wipe the bin over before tossing the cloth away OR spend 2 minutes throwing out the obviously expired food from the fridge.
Bathroom and toilet – 11 minutes
- Squeegee the shower glass and spray a cleaner on spots that grow mildew and mould (1 minute).
- Collect up all rubbish, return items such as tweezers, makeup or hair brushes to their homes and straighten items on the bench (2 minutes).
- Hang up all towels, bathmats, hand towels and face washers. Open the window to air out the bathroom – this reduces the growth of mould (1 minute).
- Using a bottle of general cleaner and a rag, wipe out the sink, getting the drips of soap, the blobs of toothpaste and errant hair before they set solid (2 minutes).
- Wipe anything obvious off the mirror and shine with a dry cloth (1 minute).
- Spot clean the floor (1 minute).
- Same rag – clean the outside of the toilet cistern and seat (1 minute). Throw rag away!
- Brush the toilet then squirt toilet cleaner into it. Swish again and leave it for the day (1 minute).
- BONUS ACTIVITY: check whether you need to buy anything (toothpaste, toilet paper, soap etc), or dust the window sills.
Bedroom(s) – 5 minutes
- Make the bed every day – regardless of whether your version is spick and span with hospital corners on flat sheets, or a fluffy quilt tossed over a sheet (2 minutes).
- Put your shoes away, hang clothes up or put them in the wash (2 minutes).
- Collect rubbish, last night’s water, jewellery and reading material and put it all in the right spot (1 minute)
- BONUS POINTS: dust window sills and the tops of cupboards, wipe down the bedside cupboards and put a drop of essential oil on a tissue under your pillow.
Living Room – 7 minutes
- Straighten the sofas and chairs. Fold blankets, put the pillows back neatly and find the remote controls (2 minutes).
- Pay attention to the obvious surfaces – coffee table, centre of the room, couch. Collect all the stuff and things that have migrated into the room, into one spot or basket (3 minutes).
- Dust, wipe and clean surfaces such as the coffee table, tv screen and powerpoints (2 minutes).
- BONUS POINTS: sort the extra things into piles for each room OR vacuum.
Dining area – 11 minutes
- Collect up clutter, paperwork, discarded rubbish and clothing and put them away (3 minutes).
- Spray and wipe down the table and chairs (2 minutes).
- Replace the linen on the table, restock salt and pepper, wipe the placemats or pick a new flower for the centre (2 minutes).
- Sweep or vacuum the floor (4 minutes).
- BONUS POINTS: Set the table for the next meal!