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How to Clean House More Efficiently

Master the Mess: 8 Mom Tips for Efficient Housecleaning

With kids leaving a constant stream of toys, dirty clothes, crumbs, and body fluids in their wake, it's no surprise many moms find cleaning house to be a frustrating, never-ending task. Luckily, Circle of Moms members have shared simple strategies to help you create an efficient housecleaning plan of attack. Keep reading for their best eight tips.

1. Create a Schedule

Many Circle of Moms members suggest creating a weekly cleaning routine, both to keep messes from piling up and to make cleaning the whole house seem less overwhelming. Heather H. shares: “I do have a ‘schedule’ for cleaning. I find, for me, doing a little bit each day rather than trying to set aside a whole day for cleaning helps . . . I have two ‘laundry days’ and other days set aside for things like vacuuming, dusting, etc. . . . I cycle through so that everything gets done weekly.” Lisa D. agrees: “I think that if you had a routine, it might help. Even if it is Mondays is kitchen and Tuesdays is bathroom.”

2. Track What You’ve Cleaned

Prefer a flexible approach over a strict routine? Consider trying mother-of-one Kelly's tracking method to stay organized: “I kept a list of rooms on a dry erase board on my fridge, the rooms were written in Sharpie, and as I ‘did’ them, I would mark them off with a dry erase marker. When I got them all done, I would erase the marks and start again. . . . Keeping the list helped me know which rooms had been cleaned recently and which needed attention — that way I didn't clean the living room all the time while never making it to cleaning the bathrooms.” Jodi K. found this strategy had a surprising bonus: “If I cross off what I've done, my husband will look and see what needs to be done instead of me having to tell him! Things are getting done without me asking! It's almost like having a fabled cleaning fairy!”

3. Clean During Naps, Meals, and Playtime

Naps are an obvious time goldmine to use for cleaning house. But as Bobbie F., mom to a 14-month-old, shared, you can also clean while your kids are awake and occupied: “I found that cleaning while he is self-feeding in the high chair, taking an afternoon nap, or playing by himself gives me time to clean the kitchen and other areas of the house at 95 percent.”

4. Set a Timer

When those rare free moments appear, most moms would prefer hopping in the shower to sweeping the kitchen floor. Julie S. recommends setting a timer to motivate you to work extremely efficiently for a short burst of time: “When the baby went to sleep I would set the timer for 30 minutes and clean whatever I could get done in that amount of time. If the baby was still sleeping I would take some 'me' time, reading, getting a shower, whatever.” The timer method works for Kelly too: “I use a kitchen timer to do 15-minute speed cleans in each room — you can do A LOT in 15 minutes.”

5. Declutter With a Cleanup Basket

Sometimes the dust isn't as annoying as the dozens of oddball items cluttering every inch of counter top and carpet. Declutter quickly by making one sweep through the house with a "cleanup basket." As Emily F. explains: "We just take an empty laundry basket around the house and pick up anything that is not where it belongs. My 2-and-a-half-year-old can do this by herself. Then we'll sit together and sort what ended up in the basket. Usually there’s tons of toys in there so we sit near the toy bins and the girls will run to put things away that belong elsewhere. If everyone is helping it usually takes less than 10 minutes to get the house looking presentable.” If the kids aren’t available to help sort items, you can still collect the items, as Autumn F. does: “Sometimes I'll pick up all the toys in the living room and put [them] in a laundry basket and stick it in my kids' rooms till I can get to helping the kids put it way. It is amazing how much cleaner your house appears when all the kids' toys are out of sight!”

6. Squeeze in a Nightly Clean

The kids are in bed and you’re dying to relax . . . can you wait an extra 10 minutes? As Karen H. shares, regularly squeezing in an extra 10 minutes of cleaning at the end of each day can help keep things under control: “Doing one or two things at the end of each day will keep things from getting overwhelming.”

7. Get Inspired

If you’re looking for daily inspiration and extra help on creating a detailed cleaning plan, several Circle of Moms recommend Flylady.net. Andrea S. shares: “This site can help you get into good routines. It doesn't happen overnight, but it can help get things under control in time.” Dr. Rosina M. agrees: “She is the queen of helping you get organized!"

8. Cut Yourself Slack

Truly, it’s OK to leave a sink of dirty dishes over night, or to save a huge chunk of cleaning for the weekends. As Kelly G. wisely shares:

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait for tomorrow,

For babies grow up, I’ve learned, to my sorrow.

So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust, go to sleep.

I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.”

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