How to Keep Up With Household Chores
Household work tends to fall mainly on women, especially mothers. Numerous studies have shown time and time again that women do more housework than men.
Even the Australian census shows this when collecting data regularly.
Add to that the mental load we carry about housework in general, it can feel overwhelming.
Whatever your situation, there are things that can help you keep on top of housework more, if that’s something you want.
Truth be told, I love a clean home and do aim to keep it that way.
My toddlers seem to want the opposite and cause chaos from the moment they wake up until the moment they fall asleep.
As such, most of the cleaning gets done while they’re asleep and I have accepted the reality that my life is a little bit chaotic at this stage.
Since I also have a 14 and 16 year old, I know this stage is not forever and that in a few years, when I clean something it will stay clean.
I have the added benefit of having raised teens who are helpful, cooperative and proactive so they help clean up at times, take care of their siblings and don’t add to my load.
So how can you manage to keep up with household chores?
Disclosure, This article may contain affiliate links.
1. Create A Schedule
Plan out your chores for each day of the week to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Since my younger kids are 1 and 2, part of my schedule is doing a quick clean-up once they are asleep or my teenagers do it some nights while I am bathing the toddlers.
Sharing the load within the home makes a significant difference if you are able to do it.
Teach your kids to clean up after themselves and help with other chores from a young age.
If you can be patient and teach them from the moment they show interest in something, they will learn it faster and your load will ease.
In our home, we each have a day we do a few chores and the rest is done on the weekend or in the evening.
On the day assigned to us, we get up, unload the dishwasher, put on a load of washing and hang it before we leave.
When we get home, washing is brought in and folded, ironing placed in a basket for Sunday and that night it is that person’s turn to cook dinner and clean up after.
Doing it this way has been easier because whoever is cooking is cleaning as they go and taking responsibility for everything they are doing.
My kids like it because it means they know they won’t randomly get asked to do chores and as their days are at the start of the week, it does not interfere with their sports or homework.
In the evening, we sweep, mop, wipe over the tables, and put anything away that needs to be done.
On the weekend the bathrooms are cleaned, lawn mowed, any gardening that needs to be done get sorted too. Although, if I can, I do it during the week so our weekends are free.
Have a list, assign chores, do what you can and realise it won’t be perfect and that’s ok. You live there!
2. Prioritize Tasks
Focus on the most important tasks first, such as washing dishes, doing laundry, and cleaning bathrooms.
What are the things that need to be done daily or immediately? For example, if the dishes pile up, you can end up with cockroaches, rodents and other pests.
Laundry when not dealt with results in smells and stains being difficult to remove and you might run out of clothing.
Bathrooms need to be done regularly otherwise mould develops which is not only unsightly but a health hazard too.
Some things such as windows, window sills, tracks of sliding doors, curtains etc are done less frequently than weekly but they are still scheduled.
Work out what matters most to you and create a schedule based on that or research how others do it and use one of theirs.
Flylady was the one I used when I was a young mum and it made such a difference.
3. Delegate and Outsource
Get everyone in the household involved in the cleaning process, and assign specific tasks to each person.
If you can afford it and want it, get a cleaner. Or choose specific chores you hate doing and outsource those.
When I was broke this wasn’t an option but I knew my time was valuable.
So I taught my kids how to do things (also to ensure they have life skills) then as I increased my income, I outsourced things I didn’t want to do.
A few I dislike and have outsourced at times include mowing the lawn, ironing and cleaning the bathrooms.
No one can do it all on their own, especially not when you are trying to work, run a business, have hobbies and take care of your mental and physical health.
Anyone who lives in your home can contribute to cleaning it and helping. Aside from a newborn of course.
My toddlers can pick up their toys, help load and unload the washing machine, hand clothes to be hung up, try to help fold clothing etc.
Kids are capable of more than we give them credit for and if they are showing interest, get them involved.
The sooner you do it the easier it is and it encourages them to have a positive view of chores and simply see them as part of life because that is all they will have known.
By incorporating my kids into the chores from as soon as they could and encouraging whatever chores they showed interest in, teaching them was easy.
My teens know how to do everything and do whatever needs to be done because it was always part of life.
Yes, allowing little kids to do stuff takes longer and often makes more mess in the short term.
In the long run though, you teach your kids and raise them to be capable of everything, thus reducing your workload in the home too.
4. Use Time-saving Tools
Invest in tools that can help you clean more efficiently, such as a robotic vacuum or a steam mop (unless you have wooden floors).
We use a multi-cooker so on days we are super busy we can either pressure cook or slow cook a meal, depending on how organised we are.
Our family in Vanuatu didn’t have a washing machine until recently. It took hours to do washing as it was all done by hand.
It also made me think about how much time we are potentially wasting at home doing tasks that could be done by a machine or made easier.
We don’t currently have a dryer but using one is faster than hanging washing and bringing it in.
What things would be easier if you had a machine or something to help?
5. Multitask Wisely
In general, I do not recommend multitasking because you can only truly concentrate on one thing at a time.
However, you can combine tasks like folding laundry with watching TV/listening to a podcast etc.
You could wipe down the counters and clean dishes while waiting for food to cook.
Cleaning as you go with cooking is one of the easiest things you can do to make cleaning up after dinner easier.
Batch things you don’t enjoy doing such as ironing with a specific series you want to watch or a podcast or audiobook.
Look at things you don’t like doing and see if there is a way to combine them with something you do enjoy to make it easier.
6. Break It Down and Have Goals
Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, break chores into smaller tasks and work on them throughout the day or assign days for them.
Sometimes, when my toddlers have had an extra chaotic day, standing at the front of the home and seeing all that needs to be done can be overwhelming.
This is why breaking it down and tackling things one at a time makes it easier.
You can see throughout this article that we break down housework by days, people and tasks.
Since implementing this chores strategy, the house has been kept cleaner and tidier than when it is all left to me to do.
Other than the chores we have on our specific day, the evening cleanup is easy because it is broken down into tasks, divided and we do our part of the cleanup at the same time.
This way no one feels like they are doing all the work and the house is kept clean.
On top of that, give yourself a goal to work towards, such as cleaning one room per day, to keep yourself motivated.
If you try to tackle everything at once and fail, you’ll feel awful and will be less likely to get into it at another time.
Setting a timer and aiming to get as much done as possible in that time is a great goal for us.
Or choosing one area to get done such as the bedroom or bathroom makes cleaning easier and ensures we stay on top of the housework.
My 14 year old loves tackling the bathroom or garden and gets great satisfaction from seeing it finished, as well as knowing how much I value their work.
My eldest does the washing and it’s an easy one because the goal for it is an empty washing basket, then empty clothesline then everything put away.
Breaking it down even further, they aim to have the washing hung before school (I put the load on when I get up).
Then they bring it in as soon as they get home, fold it and put it away or in the rooms the items belong.
Other goals might be to have your home completely clean every Friday so you can enjoy the weekend or every Sunday so you start the week fresh.
7. Take Breaks
Don’t burn yourself out by cleaning for hours on end. Take breaks and give yourself time to recharge.
Often people aim to clean the entire house at once or tackle all the decluttering.
Once we get started we feel overwhelmed and regretful, often causing us to give up or procrastinate on it later.
If you have a large task take your time and take breaks as needed if you prefer.
For me, the way we do it is with a timer. We pick a time to do as much as we can, then when the timer goes off we get a break of 5 to 10 minutes then go again.
Rarely do we need to do a massive cleaning day but when we do we set timers.
Setting a timer means we know there is a break coming soon and we try to see how much we can get done in that time period.
My kids prefer this as they can see an end to the chore instead of feeling like they will be cleaning all day.
Sometimes we have been surprised by how much we got done in a short time.
Other times my kids have been horrified how long some specific tasks take that are not done regularly.
The timer method has also helped them learn how long different things take to do around the home and how much work goes into maintaining it all.
8. Body Double
Some people, myself included get more done when we have someone else around or doing work with us.
There are apps and even live sessions you can join to ‘body double’ with tasks you hate.
Doing something with someone else makes it feel like less of a chore and can help keep you focused on the task at hand.
I am easily distracted, especially if I am decluttering or have to move a selection of things to other rooms.
Body doubling e.g. having my teens clean with me or even having my toddlers help has made a difference.
My teens correct things or we compete to see who can get their chores done fastest and things like that.
9. Reward Yourself
Treat yourself to something you enjoy after completing a set of chores, such as a favourite snack, relaxing bath, movie or similar.
If I have my kids involved in a big cleaning day, they usually want pizza and ice cream.
As for myself, if I am cleaning a lot that day, I want a full body scrub, facial and manicure at the end of it because I work up a sweat cleaning and these things make me feel clean again.
I do it all myself because I am fussy but it does make me happy to have some time scheduled after a few hours of cleaning to focus on myself.
I’m also all for mini treats as I complete a task. That’s right, if I am especially unmotivated, I’ll line up a treat after everything I do and congratulate myself like training a puppy.
I know how that sounds and I don’t care. It works for me!
10. Be Consistent
Stick to your schedule and make cleaning a regular part of your routine to maintain a clean and organized home.
The more you stick to your routines and keep everything clean, the easier it is.
When you leave things for a long time, that is when it builds up and becomes a massive job instead of a quick clean.
Keep on top of tasks that need to be done daily, weekly and monthly so you never have to spend the whole weekend scrubbing everything.
11. Do it As You See It
Some cleaning can be done as soon as you notice it which saves time later. This goes for tidying too.
As you leave a room, take with you anything that doesn’t belong even if it is a coffee cup or something.
You don’t need to take everything but taking something helps keep on top of things.
When I got to the bathroom, if the vanity and mirror needed a tidy, I do it after washing my hands and then wash my hands again if needed.
Numerous things like that can be done as you go about your day which leaves the house clean and tidy instead of building up into a neverending pile of doom.