How to manage housework when you are busy is the question that every busy gal (and guy!) is asking and this post explains my strategy for staying ahead of it all. Read on for my best tips for how to manage housework when you are busy!
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I don’t have it all figured out. I don’t have it even ¼ of the way figured out. Being a mom is hard work and adding anything at all (a job, a rowdy pet, a messy, manly husband, a broken vacuum) and it starts to feel like you a struggle to keep your head above water. One strategy that I have found very helpful is described below and makes me feel as if, at the very least, that I am doing more than treading water and that I am in fact winning the daily war on chores. I’m inclined to think it actually does keep me a tiny bit ahead but the I’ll have to look back in 20 years and let hindsight make that determination.
How to Manage Housework
I feel like the appliances that we buy, borrow, rent, and bother to store and upkeep are like our little soldiers. They are our minions of service to help us battle laundry, dirt, and clutter. They should be working all the time. They shouldn’t get a break unless they are on fire. If I’m working, peeling potatoes or folding wash, those machines are going to be working too.
When I am driving up my bumpy dirt drive, I think through and decide on the appliances I’m going to put into immediate action when I walk through the door. Often it is the washing machine that is set into action first.
If you want to shop the items I suggest in this post, I have a rad little Amazon page that has them linked right here!
How to Manage Laundry
An aside on laundry: This is an area of housekeeping that I can say with confidence that I’m good. I’m solid on laundry. My kids don’t have TONS of clothes, and they aren’t often naked. I keep up on the cloth diaper laundry well, and have them ready for daycare almost always. My husband has very few work pants, shirts, and white tee shirts that he likes (*insert huge eye roll from me here) and he also goes to work clothed. I am weaker in the folding area, as my couch laundry pile demonstrates but I have the washing part down pat. It’s because I am in a fairly steady state of washing.
By rounding up the dirty laundry that is strewn from Hell to breakfast and depositing it into the washing machine (This is the one I love!), the floors are thus less cluttered and closer to a state of vacuum readiness. Turn that washing machine on, Wildflowers!
The laundry soap that I love is from Norwex. It is a no-filler soap which means it has no junk fillers that clog your machine, cost you money while not actually cleaning your clothes, and fade your clothing fibers. The soap lasts forever and ever and I highly recommend it.
I DO hang my laundry on the clothesline when it is warm enough and I wrote a really helpful blog post all about it here!
How to Manage Dishes
The dishwasher needs to be running ASAP or the plates need to be soaking if you don’t have a dishwasher. Soaking before washing cuts scrubbing time significantly. If the dishwasher is running, then there are probably fewer dirty dishes on the counter tops, right? See how getting a few appliances turned on makes your home less cluttered, stat?
If you don’t have a dishwasher in your home or you rent, consider a portable, or even a compact portable dishwasher. This 18 inch washer was a total game changer for me. It rolls to the sink and connects via a hose in the back when it is full and rolls back over beside the countertop when it is done running. True, some days I run it twice but it was money well spent in my book. There are also countertop models you could explore.
How to Manage Picking Up the Floor
While you set those main machines into motion, your human minions may or may not be directed into putting toys away, bringing you said dirty laundry or dishes, or maybe just resting in a state of neutrality where there are neither dirtying nor cleaning. Insert fantasy of helpful, whistling children here.
I fantasized (and I mean that truly) about a robot vacuum for YEARS before I bought one. Years, I tell you! After a lot of research, and frankly after being sick of my floor NOT being clean, I chose one and ordered it.
My hesitation was, and rightfully so, that those robot vacuums would suck up any little Barbie shoe or Lego left on the floor. And that, my friend, is the beauty of it. Here’s what you do to manage picking up the floor. You can use the robot vacuum in just one room of the house so don’t freak out and think you have to pick up the whole house- you don’t. Go room by room. Start with the easiest room first- a spare bathroom even! Pick up the floor and make your children help you. Warn children that the robot will suck up stray toys (which removes YOU as the agent of toy loss and puts THEM in a position of responsibility, which I love) and turn the robot on. Close the door and move to another room and repeat if time allows. I block off an area with chairs if there’s no door available.
After some extensive YouTube research, the best budget robot vacuum I found and purchased was the Bobsweep Bobi Pet and I LOVE IT. It has a little microfiber cloth that mops while it vacuums, it comes with an extra beater bar, extra screws, a screw driver, extra microfiber mop, and more, and has a docking station with capabilities far beyond my interests.
I don’t let it “run wild” in the house when I’m gone because there are just too many chairs/edges that it might get hung up on and if I’m home it takes one second to scoot the robot back on course to vacuuming WHILE YOU DO SOMETHING ELSE and if you aren’t home to do that, then the magic is sort of lost.
My best tip if you get one of the robot vacuums is to keep up on the maintenance, which is true of any appliance really. Clean the beater bar, empty the receptacle, and follow the directions to keep that little soldier cleaning for you! If it gets a clog or somethings is the matter, it will display an error code, which is actually quite helpful. Refer to this YouTube Video and jot down what each error code means on a post it. Tape the post it to the top of the robot vacuum. Then, next time it says 03 Error, you’ll know to flip it over and check the beater bar. This robot vacuum has been such a great way to make my house a lot cleaner. It picks up a TON of pet hair, and forces the whole family to do a better job of picking up the floor. It’s amazing and is my favorite new appliance.
For when I want to vacuum my floor myself, I LOVE my Meile canister vacuum. It’s a high quality, easy to use, pet-hair sucking machine. I love that the hose is easy to take off the attachments and it honestly is the MOST valuable when I’m cutting my 4 year old son’s hair and he’s crying without end and I can vacuum the itchy hair on the low setting- it’s really such a nice vacuum. I think Dysons are garbage by comparison and I had 2 before the Meile. Can we still be friends if you are a Dyson fan? 😉
How to Manage Cooking
The crockpot and bread machine are other workhorses that, with a little planning, can set a homemaker ahead. The crockpot has gotten lots of press in recent years for good reason. For those of you new to the cooking game, here’s what they do: They cook food, slowly, likely with plenty of liquid but not necessarily, and can make cheaper, tougher pieces of meat tender and tasty. The feature that I depend on is that there’s no “done” time, with a bell ringing where you have to run, not walk, to remove the food. It’s like a “done” hour or two where you can shut the pot off. As long as there is water/beer/broth/can soup/other liquid in the pot, you’re not going to ruin supper. They’re awesome.
I will write a full length ode to the bread machine sometime soon but here’s the short of it. While I wouldn’t say you NEED a bread machine, I will assert that they are exceedingly helpful and if you can score a used one for free or cheap, they are a wonderfully useful addition. I even leave mine (handed down from my Gram) on the counter all the time and I have like 2.5 square feet of counter space in my whole microscopic kitchen. They are the unsung hero of the kitchen appliance world. The homemade bread you can crank out is top notch and it takes under 5 minutes to fill the compartment with ingredients. Many models have a timer that can be set so your bread is done at a certain time, so you could fill it in the morning and come home from work to the smell of baking bread. They are rad! If I really have it together, I can come home to baking bread and a simmering crockpot of stew. You can do it too, Dear Readers!
I also keep ahead of meal prep by canning. If you are thinking that canning takes a ton of time, I’ll challenge you by checking out some of my super fast canning recipes like my Raspberry Jam Recipe that’s completely done in under 30 minutes. If you are thinking that you don’t have all the gear it takes to can, you should check out my no-frills canning equipment checklist! Download it free right here!
If you want to learn more about how canning can save you time, dive into my FREE Canning Basics Course! It’s fun, easy, and I help you conquer the most common pitfalls beginning homemakers make when learning how to can.Enroll Now!
So my strategy is a simple one. I get all appliances going that I can and then focus on more immediate concerns. That way, my little soldiers are cleaning and cooking for me while I complete tasks that can’t be automated or mechanized. Of course, my washing machine and dishwasher aren’t running all the time but by setting them into motion early, the likelihood of making time to put away dishes and clothing is increased and the surfaces of my home are clearer.