Stay at Home Mom Cleaning Tips

One of the hardest things as a stay at home mom is figuring out how to balance household chores and spending time with your kids. It’s hard to not feel guilty when you’re still discovering how to maintain a balance, because in the beginning it’s going to be lopsided. There will be days {or weeks} where your house is unattended and you spend all of your time with your kiddos, and then there will be days or weeks where your house is absolutely spotless and your little one seems to be constantly entertaining himself or relying on the television for a playmate.

I felt so frustrated and guilty trying to maintain that delicate balance between keeping my house clean and spending time with Little. I wasn’t completely sure what a stay at home mom was supposed to do, but based on what I’d read on other people’s blogs, I thought I had a vague idea. Trying to live up to that idea was so frustrating! The moms I found online were absolutely perfect. They lived according to a strict schedule, they had gobs of self discipline, and maintained a constant structure in the home. I felt like I was flapping in the wind. Some days will be great and I’ll wake up bright and early and we’ll eat breakfast together as a family and I’ll spend the whole day going back and forth between fun activities with Little and necessary house chores. Other days though, I wake up and have no clue what I’m doing. I either have no motivation to do anything {because household chores do not make my heart soar} or I have no clue what to do throughout the day. This still happens. I have changed my attitude about these days though. I realize that it really is okay if we don’t have something magically fun going on every single day. I also realize it’s okay if I don’t have huge household accomplishments to show all the time. My advice for anyone struggling with kids vs. chores guilt is to simply figure out what your own basic standards are, and try to adhere to those. If your husband is okay with the house not being spotless on a day where you and your kids made a sheet fort or painted outside with chalk all morning, then you’re fine. You are your own boss, and you set your own standards.

I do have a few tips I’ve discovered that help me stay on some kind of cleaning routine. Hopefully they’ll help you as well:

Establish a daily and weekly mandatory cleaning schedule for yourself. It may include things like:

  • Change sheets every Monday
  • Do at least one load of dishes daily
  • Vacuum house weekly
  • Do laundry on Monday and Wednesday
  • Dust and clean windows every Friday
  • Pick up Little’s room daily before nap and before bed.
  • Clean bathrooms every Friday.

Of course your weekly and daily must-dos may look different from mine, but these are what I decided should be included at minimum on a regular basis. These minimum cleaning standards do not make my house a spotless place, but they keep it tidy enough that we can have company over and not feel embarrassed. It also keeps my stress levels in check.

  • Confer with your spouse to find out what –in general- he expects of you as a stay at home mom. You are certainly your own boss, but discussing your duties with your husband is still a must in order to maintain a healthy partnership. Think of yourself as the manager of your home just as an office has a manager. I simply sat down with Travis and told him the things I thought I was expected to do, the things I absolutely would not do, the things I would like his help with, and the perception I had of his standards. It was a very honest conversation and I’m so glad we had it. I was able to be honest with him and tell him that I was struggling with being a mom and a home manager at the same time. He agreed to take out the trash, scoop and clean the litter box, and fold the laundry that I sorted and washed. We found a balance that works for us, and I know there are certain tasks I don’t have to worry about. I also talked to him about his expectations, and his standards aren’t extremely high. He simply wants us to feel comfortable at home. I can do that. After our talk I knew it was okay if my focus was more on keeping things tidy than keeping things spotless, and it took a huge amount of pressure off of me.
  • Take at least 20 minutes at the end of the day to go through the house before bed and grab up any dirty dishes, dirty clothes, or stray toys and drop them off where they belong. I have a really bad habit of leaving empty Diet Coke cans around the house, and my quick little 20 minute routine right before bed helps me gather these up and saves me the stress of it in the morning.
  • I have Little pick up his toys in his room and throughout the house every day before his nap and before bed. It’s become a part of our normal routine to pick up his toys. We use organizational bins in his bedroom to help sort the smaller odds and ends that would otherwise be lost in the bottom of a toy box. He already knows exactly which bin contains what type of item {be it his car bin, his puzzle bin, his toy food bin, etc.} and he quickly picks up the little toys that can take down a professional linebacker when accidentally stepped on in the dark.
  • Make use of your dishwasher. A LOT of things can be washed in the dishwasher! I’ve washed flip flops, bath toys, the dish brush that accumulates all kinds of gross things, plastic cars {the ones that don’t  have any kind of batteries of course}, sandbox toys, plastic hairbrushes and combs, even tooth brushes to disinfect them after a bout with the flu at our house. You can also wash soap dishes from the sink or bathtub, toothbrush caddies, certain glass and ceramic vases, trashcan lids, and your dustpans all in the dishwasher. Of course run non-dishes and dishes separately. It sure makes it easier to clean and disinfect those little odds and ends or the strange things that sometimes need to be cleaned but take up time to do so.
  • Use a damp washcloth to spot clean places around the house. When I’m using my vacuum cleaner attachments to clean in the tight spaces along the wall, sometimes I’ll notice little smudges, spots, and stains around the house that I otherwise wouldn’t even pay attention to. I grab a damp washcloth and do a quick once over on the walls and tackle those little smudges that can quickly add up to grime. It seems like a tedious chore, but I timed myself doing this the other day and I was done in ten minutes.
  • When doing a deep clean in any room, start at the top and move down. For instance, in the bedroom, begin by clearing out cobwebs in the highest corners, then dust your ceiling fans, then higher surfaces on book shelves and dressers, and keep moving on down in the room until you reach the floor. In the bathroom, you can start by dusting light fixtures, then clean your mirrors and windows, then dust and clean surfaces, then move to the toilet and tub and then the floor. As the dust and yuck settles from the top of the room to the floor, you can clean up all along the way without having to go back and re-clean anything.

None of these tips and tricks require a lot of time or effort, and they can be divided up throughout the week. Little ones love to help, so be sure to let them! Little enjoys helping me unload the dishwasher, sort the laundry, unload the dryer, and pick up his toys and books. When you make it a daily routine and make it fun, it becomes the norm and they fight you much less. Transitioning from play time to clean up time is still a battle, so I give him a ten minute warning. He doesn’t understand the concept of those ten minutes yet, but he gets that the next time I come in, it will be time to pick up.

Simply deciding how much time –realistically- you want to spend one on one with your kids throughout the day can give you a good place to start when it comes to deciding what your daily around-the-house routine should look like. You do not have to spend six undivided hours playing with and entertaining your kids, and you do not have to spend that much time cleaning either. And if you want to take a whole day once a week where all you do is clean and your kiddos are expected to watch tv or entertain themselves all day, that is okay too. It took me a long time to realize it’s absolutely fine for me to take one day a week where I spend more time cleaning than playing. By doing that, it means for the rest of the week, all I have to do is little maintenance chores instead of big deep cleaning tasks.

Take each day at a time and try not to judge yourself based on one day. Just try to do a little better each day, and with some time we all will get a better handle on being mom and home manager.





Filed under Cleaning tips, Stay at Home Moms

12 responses to “Stay at Home Mom Cleaning Tips

  1. Pingback: Simplify Your Life: Stay at Home Mom Schedule | Love Makes A Family

  2. Such a great post Kat! I totally agree about talking to your spouse about expectations. Yours and his. It saves a ton of fights if he knows what you expect of him and visa versa.
    Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Meghan! I don’t think of Travis as my ‘boss’ or anything like that, but it does help if I know he’s not expecting the house to be completely spotless, and I’m sure he appreciates me knowing what he “expects” when he gets home too. 🙂

  3. Kelcie

    I must say, you have helped me SO much. Before I had my 12 month old daughter, I was incredibly obsessive compulsive (still am), and the baskets were always free of clothes, the shelves free of dust, and you could eat off of my floors and toilets. After my daughter was born, this was still easy to maintain as she slept what seemed like 24/7 (except night of course) but the older she gets, the less she sleeps. This is my first child and I am a stay at home mom, and plan on being one forever. I am also, once again, obsessive compulsive not just about my house, but being a “perfect parent”. I have always told myself that failing to do everything timely and flawlessly, while creating an Einstein and giving her constant attention is not okay; You have made me realize it IS okay if things aren’t perfect.. And that’s a feeling I’ve been searching for an entire year.

  4. Joy

    I’m new to being a stay at home wife, and it helps me to realize that chores vs. child guilt is probably nothing compared to chores vs. child vs. job guilt. We have it good ladies!

  5. Julie

    it’s nice to find another mom that is like me. I am laughing as I read this post and a few others I have read of yours tonight because I feel like Icould have written the exact same things. I have a 3 yr old son and another son who is almost 2. I feel like I am being pulled in every direction. they are very umm…..energetic….when I leave the room and come back a few minutes later there are rarely any cusions left on the couch….some days I think it’s fun and other days it frives me crazy because it’s one more thing to clean up. those mom’s that have it all together and everything organized are inspriring but I have no idea how they do it, I was online tonight to figure out how to simplify my day after a major meltdown tonight I know I have to find a way to simplify. My husband thinks that I take too much on but I feel like I dont do enough, mostly because I feel like I dont get anything done….ever…I do more in the hour after he gets home while the kids are eating dinner than I do all day. I dont think it’s wrong fo rme to want to have my hosue look like a magazine cover, I know it’s not realistic, but it’s so pretty, I have accepted however that it wont happen that way right now but i want the organization that is in those pictures, you know, the kind where when u need some batteries for one of those toys that drive you crazy but the kids just LOVE, you can find those batteries because they have a place they belong, you know where that place is and because of this you dont run out because you could see that you were low on batteries and purchased more last week when u ran some errands. On top of all the day to day stuff we are now potty training as of a few days ago and I am finding that to be overwhelming as my son likes to butt heads with me some times when all I’m trying to do is help him…..
    anyways, thanks for your posts, I will keep reading,,,

    • Julie,

      Now you’ve made me laugh! I enjoyed reading through your comment. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a Better Homes and Gardens house?? I keep seeing this sign on Pinterest that says, “Please excuse the mess, the children are making memories.” I think it’s sweet, but sometimes my house is such a disaster, I think mine should say, “Please excuse the squalor….I don’t feel like dealing with it today.” Thanks for reading 🙂

      • Julie

        I am a recovering procrastinator as well, I forgot to mention that earlier so it really can pile up then it’s just scary to start somewhere…..I swear the dust bunnies are starting a club and are going to picket in front of my hosue if I dont pay them some attention soon…..oh well, I like bunnies.

  6. Jenn

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this blog!! I just started reading it the other day 🙂 You have made me feel so much better at being a SAHM (part time). I do work Mon & Wed evening (5-10) and a full day on Saturday, but I still consider myself a SAHM. I am now feeling exactly how you used to feel when it came to housework and spending time with your little one. My daughter is 14 months old and I still wonder what in the world I am doing! I’m glad I’m not the only one. I’m am forever trying to find a balance, but after reading some of your posts, I think I finally have it figured out….I hope! Now I just need to stop procrastinating and actually put my plan into action!!

    • Jenn, Thank you for your comment! I’m so glad you found encouragement through my blog. I hope you continue with this new gusto and have faith in your ability to do this! It’s REALLY hard. It is. But you can do it. I still struggle, I still have days where I get completely overwhelmed. Happened this past week, in fact. But you have to give yourself a lot of grace, regroup, and start over again on a new day. It’s ok. Our kids are much more forgiving than adults are.

  7. Cayla

    After reading your blog I think a big weight on my shoulders got lifted. I have a 9 month old girl and 2 year old boy. My husband works 66 hours a week 6 days a week so the kids and house are my job. When he comes home at night dinners not made or the house looks like a tornado went threw I know he wonders what I’ve been doing. I’m going to talk to him like you said. When I had my son I thought my sahm would be easy carefree and stress free and it definitly is not stress free with a messy house. I know I should spend as much time as I do cleaning with my kids, but cleaning up after 4 is not as easy as mom made it seem. Maybe I shoud ask her how she did it. Your blog helped me to know a messy house is not messy its a home that’s lived it.

  8. Alicia

    This is so helpful!! I am married with 3 kids. I work full time 8:30 – 5:00 with an hour commute. I struggle with the chores. My in-laws popped up yesterday morning unexpected and I felt like a complete slob. I’m sure it wasn’t that bad but if felt that way. I just don’t know how to balance it all and I hate looking and feeling incompetent. Any other suggestions for working moms with kids? Thanks!!

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