Life is busy. There’s no time to clean.
Life gets crazy busy, right? Between work, school, and all the kids’ activities, when do you have time to clean? For a busy mom, cleaning is often a rushed job, and last on the list.
But no one likes to come home to a cluttered house, with funky smells in the fridge or sticky stuff on the floor. Cleaning up is important, if only to stay healthy.
And how do you clean properly, when you have kids that mess things up as fast as you clean? You can’t spend all your time cleaning. Or if you’re dealing with a stressful situation, a chronic illness, lots of little ones, or just in a season of life when you can’t get much done.. what do you do?
When life gets busy, do the minimum for maintenance.
Sometimes you can’t deep clean every day. Or even as frequently as you’d like. When life gets crazy busy, focus on the priorities for health and safety.
What your priorities will be will depend on where the greatest amount of dirt is. For me, it’s doing dishes, doing laundry and sweeping the floor. Those three things get done every single day. Everything else gets done as I find the time to do it.
I do the dishes by hand because I don’t have an automatic dishwasher. I do the laundry every day, because if I don’t, I get a huge pile of wet, stinky clothes in my laundry room, and my kids whining about not having clothes. And I at least sweep the floors every day because I have a baby, and we need to keep the floors cleaned up for her safety.
What are your priorities?
What bothers you the most?
When you walk in the door, what makes you sigh? Maybe it’s the clutter in the living room, with kids’ toys, books and papers, and cups or shoes scattered all over. Or maybe it’s that first deep breath of .. smelly garbage. What makes you feel defeated, and want to give up? That’s your first priority.
What makes you feel like you got something done that day?
For me, this is laundry. There’s something about seeing neatly folded towels, hearing the hum of the dryer and swish of the washing machine that is immensely satisfying.
When you feel productive at the end of the day, it makes it easier to tackle tasks the next day. If crossing that off your to-do list every day makes you feel good, that’s your second priority.
What is the one thing that will make the biggest difference in the cleanliness of your home?
Maybe it’s wiping down all the counters, or cleaning up the spots and spills in your fridge, or giving the bathroom a once-over. The germ collectors or the dust bunny hiding spots can often bring down your energy. So those areas can be targets for your daily minimum maintenance. If it makes you shudder to think about when you last cleaned it, that’s your third priority.
Pick three main to-dos for your list.
Daily minimum maintenance relies on being able to be done daily.
So your daily task list must be able to be done every day, in the minimum amount of time, so that you can fit them in among all the other things you do every day. Having a mile-long to-do list isn’t going to help you.
Limit the amount of things on your daily minimum maintenance list to just 3, 4 or 5 items.
Don’t try to add anymore than that, or you won’t be able to get them done without bumping something else important off your list. At the same time, there has to be enough on your list to actually make a difference in your home, even if that’s just a small one.
Be careful in choosing the tasks you want to do.
You don’t want to put cleaning out the fridge on your daily minimum maintenance list, because a) that doesn’t need to be done every day and b) it’s a big job. Put jobs on your list that are done quickly and frequently.
Examples of Daily Minimum Maintenance:
- Do the dishes or empty and load the dishwasher
- Sweep the floors
- Do a load of laundry (sort, wash, dry, fold and put away).
- Wipe down the table, counters and stove.
- Clean the bathroom
- Dust the shelves
- Declutter the living room
- Taking out the garbage
What Daily Minimum Maintenance is NOT
It’s not an excuse to be lazy.
Just because you can’t get everything done doesn’t mean you can’t get something done. Daily Minimum Maintenance is the idea of letting go of doing everything that may need to be done, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing anything. It means you’re doing the bare minimum you have to in order to stay healthy and sane.Sometimes we get into this all-or-nothing mentality, especially for those of us who suffer from a bit of perfectionism. Click To Tweet
It can be tempting to give up before even trying. But Daily Minimum Maintenance is about recognizing that you can’t do everything, but you can do some things. And then deliberately planning which things those are.
It’s not an exercise in procrastination.
Daily Minimum Maintenance doesn’t mean continually putting off all the chores. Those other things that aren’t getting done as frequently, still need to be done! And you can’t put them off forever, even if you can get away with not doing them a lot longer than you think. But you still have to do them occasionally. Those windows won’t clean themselves, honey!It's about prioritization, not procrastination. Click To Tweet
It’s not a long-term solution!
Daily Minimum Maintenance is meant for those seasons in life when you’re extra busy. If you’ve just had a baby, if you’re into inventory and taxes, if you’ve hit the Christmas rush, or you’re moving, or some other major life interruption, then Daily Minimum Maintenance is going to be your lifeline.
But if the problem is more about proper time management, then Daily Minimum Maintenance is only going to encourage bad habits. And you’d be better served by learning more about time management and task tracking.
Daily Minimum Maintenance is the Holding Pattern for Busy Moms.
Airplanes have holding patterns that keep the plane in the air as long as possible, while busy airports clear the runways for them. Busy Moms need to have holding patterns too, when life gets crazy busy.
Your Daily Minimum Maintenance will allow you to tread water, to hold down the fort, to keep your head above water when everything else seems overwhelming.
Pick your priorities, and focus on those while letting go of the rest, for a season. Then you can pick up the rest when you adjust to your new normal.
Brilliant, i will be pinning this for future reference
Thank you so much! It’s something I learned when I had 4 under 5. And I’ve used this strategy repeatedly over the years.
Sounds like you’ve got this mastered! Where was this article when I was a new mom struggling to get things done?!
These are hard won survival strategies, learned when I was a mom of 4 under 5! Thanks so much for reading!
Good ideas here. Even doing one thing a day is better than not doing anything!
This post is a breath of fresh air from the usual blog posts about having sparkling bathroom taps everyday and a floor that you could lick, it’s so super clean at all times. I do laundry every day and I tidy up toys at the end of the day so we have a clean sheet the next day. Other things are done as soon as I have time (and if we’re about to have visitors!). It’s a survival strategy. #blogcrush
Thanks! Sometimes moms need to feel that they have permission to use survival strategies rather than struggling to stay on top of everything all the time. When you’re drowning, you need a rope, not guilt.
A floor that you could lick!! Well, my dogs think the floor is for licking…
Would you believe that some people think you should be able to do so safely? Who has that kind of time??
I love how you break this down! It’s true that sometimes we have to give ourselves grace to just maintain. And that’s ok! Thank you for this encouragement!
When I had 4 under 5, this was the only way I could survive my day. I had to let go of my own expectations. Isn’t it funny how we put all this pressure on ourselves?
Thanks so much for reading!