I want to walk through a bit of my super simple cleaning routine and hopefully share some encouragement with you or some tips to make cleaning your home a bit easier and even fun!
Our home cleaning should not take up most of our day, and I want to help you figure out how to simplify your cleaning.
I’m going to walk through a day in my cleaning life and share a few tips that have been a help to me. I’m just sharing what I do. You can follow it exactly, but it’s not meant to—it’s intended to give an example and help you to think through how you want to maintain your home on a weekly or daily basis. Please be reminded that I’m in an empty nest season. Your season and life circumstances and whatever else needs to be factored in as you ponder how much time you can give to the care of your home.
Listen in to EP 126: My Simple Daily & Weekly Cleaning Routine, where I share a bit more information (25 Minutes), or read the post below (12 minutes):
Resources Mentioned in the Podcast:
More Hours in My Day by Emilie Barnes
My home functions much better when it is organized and clean—not perfect. I function better with everything I need to deal with inside and outside my home when I have some basic order in my house. I don’t even sit down to write a podcast episode until I have gone through my morning routine and my home is a semblance of order. Then I love to sit down to write, as I’m doing now, with a cup of coffee and a clean work area to share my thoughts with you. When my home has order, I seem to get more done; it might just be my personality, but I know we serve a God of order, and I know I function better when I have order in my life.
My Relaxed Weekly Cleaning Schedule:
I have a weekly cleaning schedule that I stick to, but it doesn’t mean I get to everything in every room every week. It doesn’t mean I get cleaning done daily in whatever rooms I have on the schedule. It is there to keep me on task.
Each day of the week, I have broken down into rooms and areas of my home to tackle on that particular day.
Each weekday (I try hard not to clean on the weekends), after I get through my morning routine, I try to give things a quick tidy.
A quick tidy means tidying areas in my home where clutter tends to build, like my kitchen desk area or the kitchen counter. I might tidy the pillows and blankets in the family room if they’re messy and ensure things are somewhat in place. It might be mail that needs sorted or books that need put away.
Tidying has become a habit for me and usually only takes a few minutes. I try hard to put things back where they belong when I’m done, and it doesn’t always work out, so the quick tidy.We will always be picking up and tidying our homes because they are used and lived in—it's their purpose.
We will always be picking up and tidying our homes because they are used and lived in—it’s their purpose. My tidying time is just getting an area ready for that next lovely mess. So when I clear off my kitchen counter, you can bet another pile of papers or dishes is coming, and I’m ready for it. I’m also prepared after a quick tidy for that friend to walk through the door, get dinner prepared, or start a new stack of books on my kitchen desk.
My Weekly Cleaning Schedule:
Below is a quick overview of my weekly schedule, but I want you to hear this before I do—this is my schedule. (You can get a PDF copy of this schedule here.) Your brain may not work this way. I like to break areas of my home down into each day of the week. Maybe you want to batch chores like dusting or vacuuming on one day. Perhaps you like to clean your home all at once. Usually, though, and especially with littles underfoot, this can be a bit of a challenge. As you’re reading this, ponder (especially if you have no system of keeping your home clean) what it might look like for you in your season of life and define what clean means to you and your family. You might like an app that helps in setting up a cleaning schedule for your home.
Here is my weekly schedule:
Monday: Weekly Home Blessing and Bedrooms
Tuesday: Kitchen, Pantry, Laundry & Mudroom
Wednesday: Family, Dining, Foyer, & Office
Friday: Catch up Day, Tidy Car & Purse, Basement.
Saturday: Yard Work & Family Day
Sunday: Church, Weekly Planning & Menu Planning
This schedule has worked great for me; I’ve been using it for a few years now. I’ve used it with children, and now I use it as an empty nester, and I even use it when I have my grandkids for an extended time.
Let me start with Tuesday as an example. Tuesday is my kitchen day, and I have other rooms in this one too. I’ll do some simple cleaning chores to tidy this area. I’ll clean the appliance fronts, scrub the sink, check the condition of the garbage can, wipe the kitchen chairs and counter stools, wipe the counters, and vacuum and mop the floor.
I usually take a quick feather duster to the mudroom/laundry room and pantry and vacuum and mop them too. If I have time, I may wipe a few fridge shelves or cabinet fronts. I might dust the light fixtures.
It sounds like a lot, but I timed myself, and they took me about 40 minutes.
Benefits of a Timer:
I don’t always clean an area in one shot. I may do it in 15-minute intervals. A timer is a handy tool. Give it a try, and when you start timing yourself, you’ll see how long tasks actually take, and you will learn to work them in when you have the time available.
None of this takes me very long. It is incredible what you can get done in 15 minutes. Set a timer for 15 minutes if you don’t believe me, and stay on task.
Planning and having a cleaning schedule helps you stay on task and focused. You will not be wondering what to do but already have a plan in place. You are more likely to get things done when you write them down.Planning and having a cleaning schedule helps you stay on task and focused. You will not be wondering what to do but already have a plan in place.
Emilie Barnes stated in More Hours in My Day:
“The busy person’s greatest need is for “effective,” not “efficient” planning. Being effective means choosing the right task from all the alternatives. Being efficient means doing any job that happens to be around. The importance of planning is that it saves you time in the end. Know what you have to do and have your priorities established.”
When the Day Goes Not as Planned:
Let’s say I had no time to clean on Tuesday. My day had other options open up, and I spent the day hanging with my daughter and grandkids before I could even get to my cleaning.
Instead of stressing over not getting to clean those areas, I will get back to the kitchen and those other rooms next week on Tuesday. I will probably have moments to get little tasks worked in as I prep dinner or do other chores. While dinner is cooking, I can wipe down chairs or scrub the sink. After cleaning the dinner dishes, I can run the vacuum through the kitchen and other rooms and even spot wipe the floor where needed. I keep a microfiber rag hung under my kitchen sink for this purpose. The floor gets messiest around the kitchen sink and stove, and I can give it a quick wet wipe.
I may wipe down the washer and dryer after I throw a load of laundry in or when I’m coming in from errands while I’m in the mudroom, give it a quick tidy while I’m already in there.
All these tasks can happen on other days of the week. So even though I did no cleaning tasks on Tuesday, grabbing little open chunks of time while I was already doing something in those rooms still kept me on track.
Most of these things I mentioned take 5-10 minutes or less. You can accomplish much in that time. If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling social media, stop and ponder if there is something else you can be doing with that time. We waste a lot of time each day. Catch yourself in those moments where you know you are wasting time and make good use of it. Reading a few pages out of a book over mindlessly scrolling social media would be better. I’m preaching to myself here too!
The 5-Minute List:
Sit down with a cup of coffee and write down all the things you could accomplish if you had only 5 minutes. Let me share a few to get you started: Switch a load of laundry, fold a load of laundry, wipe a bathroom mirror, wipe the glass on the front door, tidy the guest bathroom, write a thank you note, make a cup of tea, encourage a family member, make your bed – I think you get the idea. Put a list together and tape it to the inside of a kitchen cabinet, and when you find you have the free time and energy (or you begin to scroll), see if you can get a few small jobs accomplished.
To keep our hearts focused rightly because my heart wants to get things done in my time and on my schedule, I need a reminder often that the Lord is the One who Appoints my Portion.
I have a snippet to share from EP 75: The Lord Appoints Our Portion and a snippet from EP 64: What is the Best use of Our Time. Take a listen or re-listen to one or both of those episodes when you need to get your heart focused on what is most important:
“Our days may not always go as we expected, but may we continually be reminded that God is still in control and is using all things for our good (Romans 8:28). He can bring glory to Himself through what we may call “interruptions” when we see them as opportunities He has put before us to walk in obedience.”
“We will never finish everything we think needs to be done in a day or even in our lifetime. But we will finish the work the Lord has ordained for our days. We will have days that seem like chaos and so many things on our to-do list we’re left unfinished, but maybe that was the day we spent ministering to a friend on the phone. Perhaps that was the day we spent an hour in prayer over a broken relationship. Was it the day we needed to make dinner for a family in need or spend more time in the Word?”
I want us to remember that the Lord’s desire for us as His beloved children is our sanctification. We are becoming more and more like Jesus in and through all the various tasks of our days. It’s not just about checking all the items off our list.
Taking the time to plan a cleaning schedule for your home, and if you’re feeling like an overachiever, putting together a 5-minute list of tasks will help to keep you focused and on task in the day-to-day care of your home. If the day didn’t go as planned, move on and be reminded that the kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom isn’t going anywhere. If you need to do something, give it a quick tidy.
Keeping Up Little by Little:
When you have a weekly cleaning schedule where you’re doing a little bit every day, it helps you not to have to be cleaning on your weekends or like a crazy woman when you have company coming over. You’re able to keep up with it little by little.
If you want to add a bit more to get some deep cleaning done, so you’re not doing a marathon spring cleaning every year, then pick a room to do a little deep cleaning throughout the month. Let’s do an example: Maybe September is the master bedroom, and one day, you have time to dust baseboards or clean ceiling fans or light fixtures, dust blinds, or clean curtains. You get the idea. You’re always keeping up with various rooms and things that need to be tended to in your home.
If you’re here today and totally overwhelmed with the care of your home, please stop reading and listen to EP 29: Where to Begin When You’re Overwhelmed in Caring for Your Home.
A Few Final Tips:
Cleaning supplies in order and simplified is helpful in keeping a clean home. Here is my link to a list of products and tools I use for cleaning. Determine what your favorites are, stick with them, and keep them organized and on hand. Everyone will do this differently, but I have cleaning supplies under every bathroom sink in my home and the kitchen sink. I have a main cleaning closet for other supplies (vacuum, mop, cleaning rags, etc.) Having them under the bathroom sinks makes it super easy to clean a bathroom while I’m in there.
Be a good steward of the home the Lord has gifted you. So much is wasted or tossed because of neglect of caring for it, or items are bought we don’t need or already have because we don’t keep things organized. If you need organizational help, check out EP 14: Simple Tips for a Clutter-Free Home.
Take the time to teach your kiddos to clean up after themselves. Make sure you have their rooms and toy areas organized so they can put things away. Putting things away is hard when there is no place for them. Clutter begins when items don’t have a home. This goes for us, too.
Have an all-family tidy one or two times a day and do it together. Make it fun, put on some upbeat music, and set a timer to see how quickly you can get it done. Maybe you have a favorite song you listen to, and stop tidying when it’s over.
While we’re on music, maybe you put together a cleaning playlist of your favorite songs, or that’s when you listen to a podcast or audiobook.
It is okay to hire an outside cleaner. If it’s in your budget and you need help, do it. I’ve had challenging seasons where we’ve used outside help, which was a huge blessing. I loved that I could give my home a quick tidy, and the cleaners came in, and voila— it was like magic.
Teach your kiddos to do laundry and dishes and to dust and vacuum. Your children are excellent helpers, and teaching them how to be responsible and care for a home is so good.
When you have a spill or mess, take care of it immediately. Don’t let it linger. It’s harder to clean it the longer it sits there.
Wash the dishes after each meal. Try not to leave dishes overnight but get them done after dinner (unless you’re leaving that challenging to clean pot to soak overnight). Don’t let them sit there and pile up all day.
I hope you’ll see how these simple cleaning habits as we practice them become routine, simplify the care of our homes, and cleaning our homes truly becomes a delight.
My reminder as we bring this episode to a close is:
True satisfaction is found only in Christ, not checking off all the boxes of my to-do list. If I finished my list but at the end of the day was short with my husband, cleaned the shower with a complaining heart, and neglected to show compassion to my child when they had a need, I have forgotten that God is much bigger than my to-do list.
Our hearts’ desire should be to serve others with a heart full of gratitude and praise the Lord for saving our souls and giving us the gift of loving and caring for a family, home, and friends.