A Slackers' Guide to Keeping House (plus weekly routine printable)


Transitioning to a single life with two kids and a full-time home business played havoc with my housekeeping skills. So after finding myself marooned in a sea of laundry with a layer of cat hairs on everything in sight, I decided it was time to take action.

Finding inspiration from Flylady and Cath Coulson, I've devised a weekly routine which helps me keep on top of everything with the minimum of fuss.

Now taped prominently to the kitchen door, my Keeping House sheet is helping me stay organized and has the bonus of telling OH and the kids what they could do to earn brownie points (and perhaps absolve a little of the stress from my day).

Here follows my fuss-free guide to keeping house for anyone else who feels there just aren't enough hours in the day.

Clear out the clutter, fast!

Less clutter = less to clean!

One of the easiest ways to keep a manageable house is to keep the things which need to be cleaned (or tidied away) to a minimum. Decluttering an entire home can be incredibly time consuming, so if you need to get this done fast try the following technique.

Go through the house, room by room with three marked boxes or bags and for everything in sight (or which falls out of cupboards when opened), decide which of the following applies:
  1. Keep - to put in the proper place ASAP
  2. Recycle - give away or donate to charity
  3. Throw away - it's no longer useful to anyone
To begin with, do this only for things in sight or which would get in the way during your day-to-day life. As you settle into a housekeeping routine, you can work in concentrated bursts of declutter as required.

Pick up as you go along

Many hands make light work!
I really wish I'd listened to Mum the first time she said this as it's the most useful housekeeping tip I've ever had!
  • Clear up mess as you make it
  • Tidy up as you go along
  • Pick things up as you go from room to room
By doing these things you'll likely find there's hardly any mess to clean and your routines will be finished in minutes!

Weekly routines

Plan ahead!

My Mum likes to do certain tasks on particular days of the week; she's done this for years and gets quite agitated if the chores aren't complete on a particular day... But her routines certainly pay off - my parents' house is dust-free, gleaming and worthy of showhome status any day of the week!

I only wish I could be so organized, though my own (toned-down) routines ensure I don't have to panic at the thought of unexpected guests!

My preference is to do a little each day, allowing me the greatest flexibility with kids and (7-days-a-week) work, with less at the weekends so I have at least some time to relax! If it suits you better, you could squash all tasks into just 2 or three days, or swap out weekend jobs to allow more time for putting your feet up.

Here's my sample routine, which I suggest you adapt to suit your own preferences and family life:

Monday

  • Change the sheets on all beds, wash dry and put away. There's nothing quite so nice as slipping between clean sheets at the end of a long day!
  • Cull or toss all unwanted papers and magazines
  • Feather dust throughout the house - feather dusters are quite wonderful, much quicker (and easier) than using cloths and polish. Ostritch feathers are perfect, though we usually make do with a 2-pack from Poundland!
  • Clean all mirrors and doors - we use plain ol' vinegar and newspaper
  • Vacuum from top to bottom - once a week for the whole house, plus once more for communal rooms. Perhaps once more if you have pets..?
  • Mop kitchen and bathroom
  • Empty all bins including those in bedrooms, bathrooms

Tuesday

  • Wipe kitchen appliances and cupboard doors - just a once-over will suffice. When done regularly, it makes a helluva difference!
  • Water house plants
  • Spend time on any problem areas - if you have time! For example, give your wardrobe that long-needed overhaul or clean out the mess from the cupboard under the stairs...

Wednesday

  • Clean the fridge - throw out anything inedible and wipe down with a mild soapy solution to avoid anything nasty building up. The first time, it may require some work, but afterwards this weekly cull will make sure it never smells bad again.
  • Plan grocery shop or book your home delivery - I love avoiding the supermarkets by having groceries delivered. After cleaning the fridge, you'll have a better idea of what you need to buy, and by planning ahead will be able to resist the urge to spend needlessly.
  • Write out letters, cards, thank-you's and the like ready to send the next (errand) day
  • File paperwork including letters/bills received throughout the week. Dealing with this weekly ensures it doesn't build up, and you're prepared to pay bills on errand day

Thursday (Errand Day)

My "financial week" begins on a Thursday and so this is the day when I usually complete all my errands and have the shopping delivered. You could always swap this out if your own weekly routine conflicts.
  • Vacuum/sweep communal areas - it will help keep floors free of debris in the areas most frequently seen by guests
  • Mop kitchen and bathroom floors
  • Wipe bathroom surfaces
  • Pay bills
  • Post letters, cards
  • Run errands (return library books, buy stamps, donate unwantables to the charity shop, etc).

Friday

  • Clean or polish shoes - particularly school shoes, to make them last longer and look smart for the following week
  • Mend/donate or cull clothes - by now you've probably been through the week's laundry and already have these items put aside
  • Clean out your purse and handbag - it's surprising how many receipts, papers and wrappers gather up in a week!

Saturday

  • Tidy kids bedrooms - we've established this as a Saturday regularity as my children are old enough to do their own!
  • Vacuum or sweep communal areas if needed - with messy children andthree cats, a quick once-over at the weekend really helps.

Sunday

  • Sweep front doorstep and wipe door - just to make sure it's always welcoming.
  • Tidy or tend to the garden - one to share with your OH or children if they're willing. Not quite so important during winter months.

Every Day

There's likely to be tasks which need to be done every day of the week. While mine is quite a list, I try to complete them alongside other tasks so they don't take up much of the day.
  • Make beds - if your children are old enough, they can straighten their own. 
  • Swish toilet and wipe bathroom sink - done daily they will always be gleaming. I do mine when I first get up and leave them alone for the rest of the day.
  • Wash, dry and put away laundry - do a load every day if you have enough to fill the washing machine. It's far easier in small chunks than trying to lauder a mountain in a single day!
  • Wipe kitchen surfaces
  • Wash all pots and pans then wipe down the sink
  • Sweep the kitchen floor
  • Empty the kitchen bin even if it isn't full. That way you won't have any smells lingering overnight.
  • Tidy communal areas such as the lounge and entrance hallway
  • Put all dirty clothes in the laundry basket. I have this on my printed sheet to remind men and child-folk that clothes don't live on bedroom floors!

Download an example cleaning routine to print off and paste up:



Print and paste in a prominent place



Fit in extra chores when you have the time and inclination

Fill spare time with optional extras

Little and often seems much less time consuming than periodic bursts!

With cleaning routines established, I often find myself doing extra tasks as I go along, such as:
  • Tidying the bookshelves while dusting
  • Cleaning out drawers while puttig laundry away
  • Wiping out kitchen cupboards after the appliances have been cleaned
Where possible, it's easier to clean areas as you realize they need it. In other words,don't put off until tomorrow anything which could be done today. If you don't have the time, make a mental note to deal with it the next time you're sprucing up the area.

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What do you think?

I hope you've found my "Slacker's Guide to Keeping House" useful! If you have any tips of your own or would like to offer your own insights, please feel free to leave your comments below.

Image credits (in order of appearance): "A clean house..." via thisgeekredes,  vacuum-cleaner by owagner, "Cleaning day" byjaymiek, planner by mike rohde, "Spring cleaning supplies by Chiot's Run, "More Laundry" by pomomama.