Routine Housekeeping

This week I’m sharing a thought in response to a question we received recently about establishing routines and schedules around the home: “I am really struggling to set up a schedule for my young family of three… I feel like if I could just get together a schedule things would go so much smoother and my husband would come home to a happier environment in the evenings. I was wondering if you moms could give a few suggestions or samples.”

Whenever people come to my house, it isn’t long before they’ve stopped in front of the refrigerator and are reading my Housekeeping Schedule. Questions usually follow, especially from male parties who spy out this slip of paper (you’d think it was written in a foreign language, it’s so mysterious to them!).

Having a weekly housekeeping routine was something I began shortly after my second child, Bronwyn, came along. I remember well those first several weeks after her birth. While they were blissful in their own right and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, it wasn’t all pretty. I had an 18-month-old and a newborn to take care of and, consequently, the house was getting far too neglected during the weekdays. We put up with a progressive mess day after day and then on the weekend, when Daniel was home from work and could help care for the kids, I turned into Crazy Woman, running around the house with dust cloths and window cleaner and toilet brushes. It wasn’t a working system, not for any of us. I would cry all week long about how messy everything was, and then I would totally neglect my husband when he was around because I was too busy catching up on all the things I needed to do.

That was when it dawned on me that chore charts don’t have to only be something a mom assigns to her children, but are also something I can assign to myself. Right away, I put together a plan, and then I started putting it to action.

The amazing thing?

It worked! When I didn’t try to complete all the jobs that needed to be done in one day– which almost always resulted in my little ones feeling neglected and/or getting into mischief while I melted into a bucket of frustrated tears– but instead tackled them in bite-size chunks, by the end of the week, my house was altogether rather clean. Suddenly, coming home from vacation or ending a whirlwind weekend didn’t mean discouragement on Monday morning as I took a look at how disheveled things were. I knew that if I just started doing my chores each day, by Friday things would be back to normal. I also knew that if a kid-tastrophe happened on Tuesday, cleaning the bathroom was on the schedule again in 3 days, so I could just let it go in order to tend to my little ones.

This is my current Housekeeping Schedule:

    1. dust & vacuum downstairs
    2. wash, dry & put away laundry
    3. wash & dry my bedding; remake bed
    4. weekly menu planning
    1. clean my bedroom
    2. wash & dry diapers
    3. clean bathrooms
    4. mop kitchen floor
    5. weekly grocery shopping
    1. deep clean kitchen (shine sink, clean fridge, etc.)
    2. wash, dry & put away laundry
    3. clean laundry/mudroom
    4. bathe kids
    5. wash & dry bath towels
    1. wash & dry kids’ bedding; remake beds
    2. wash & dry diapers
    3. wipe down dining chairs
    4. dust & vacuum downstairs
    1. clean bathrooms
    2. mop kitchen
    3. wash, dry & put away laundry
    4. ironing
    1. prepare Sunday food
    2. wash & dry diapers
    3. clean kids’ & guest bedrooms
    4. bathe kids
    5. set out Sunday clothes

I make a new Housekeeping Schedule 3-4x/year. This helps me regularly re-evaluate what days I have time for what sorts of jobs and it keeps things fresh so that I don’t get lazy and stop following it. I also use this schedule to draw from when I am making chore charts for Gabriel and Bronwyn who, at 5 and 3 (almost 4, she daily reminds us!) years old, are able to do small jobs around the house with me (i.e. folding diapers, sweeping the kitchen, dusting, etc.).

Each day when I get up, I make my daily To Do list after checking to see what chores are on my schedule. In addition to what’s scheduled, I list the miscellaneous things I need to accomplish, such as refilling Aubrey’s Rx, returning books to the library, making a birthday cake, and watering the garden. My Housekeeping Schedule provides the big picture framework so that I can better prioritize and order my days.

This schedule is one of a handful things that truly does help me keep my life and home ordered, but when all is said and done, it’s a tool and nothing more. I don’t cater to the schedule; I make the schedule to cater to my family’s needs. The important thing is taking care of the housekeeping element of homemaking so that I still have plenty of time and a peaceful environment for the cuddling, reading-aloud, and quality time elements of homemaking!


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  1. Great thoughts and ideas, Bri! Nothing provides more peace of mind for a busy woman than a list. Seeing chores scheduled into a routine in black and white, discovering that there really is enough time in the week to accomplish all the necessary tasks, and figuring out priorities help in recognizing that it really is possible. Those overwhelming moments of panic and stress are relieved.

    However, I learned, as was mentioned, that schedules are made to work for me, not me for the schedule. Learning to be flexible while determining to establish the discipline of maintaining a schedule may seem incompatible, but it is necessary. People must always remain your highest priority: children, neighbors, husbands, friends. Their needs are important. So be ready to let the schedule go from time to time. Having a routine should allow you to realize that it can be accomplished next week instead.

    If you have known me for any length of time you will have heard me say, “Just get back on track!” When we are not able to follow the plan, when distractions (good or bad) pull you away, just get back on track. The best part of having a plan is knowing what to aim for, even if you don’t quite make it.

    So make a schedule, read books about management, tweak the plan regularly, and then get back on track as needed. Above all, have fun along the way!

    Posted by Darlene Sinclair | June 19, 2008, 5:16 pm
  2. I read over your weekly schedule, and I feel that perhaps I should try a routine that is similar. Just today I mopped all the floors, cleaned all the windows, and scrubbed the tub…but my homework never got done. (As you can tell the house was bugging me more) I need a system that helps me keep the house under control, while completing homework in a timely fashion as well as take care of my family. Sometimes I fall into bed at night wondering why I feel so old, and I think its because I need a better routine for my day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. You reassure me that it can be done without feeling too overwhelmed, (although I know we all have our days.)

    Posted by Sarah Cunningham | June 19, 2008, 7:46 pm
  3. Thank you so much Brietta!! I can’t wait to make my own schedule and start using it! Oh, and please disregard this same question in my last email! :) Thanks again!

    Posted by Alicia McDougall | June 20, 2008, 3:20 am
  4. This is very encouraging to me! I’ve casually investigated coming up with a list like this, but it really, really helps to see a real life example. Thanks so much!!

    Posted by Rissa | June 20, 2008, 4:14 pm
  5. I can’t even begin to tell you how practical and helpful this is. I’m a homeschooling mom of 3 kids, another one on the way in September, a Pastor husband, and a full life – and I’m a cluttery girl at heart! I look forward to sharing my transformation with you after I post it on the fridge! :) Well, that, and after the Lord continues His good work in me, equipping me completely for what He’s called me to do.


    Posted by Stephanie | June 20, 2008, 6:05 pm
  6. Just a few tips that might help you out,1) Keep a bottle of windex,paper towels,toilet bowel cleaner in each bathroom,if you have more then one, it saves you from running from one room to the other for cleaning products.2)Buy a cheap cleaning supply bucket with a handle on it and fill with your cleaning supplies that you use for each room and carry it with you from room to room as you clean,once again it will save you from running from room to room for your cleaning supplies.3)a must have for dusting,(a swiffer duster)they have five swiffer refills in each box. These are also great for dusting plants as well as furniture.You don’t always have to use polish every time you dust.Also they are great for children to use when they are learning how to clean,and it helps mom too.4)Sparkle paper towels are the very best when cleaning mirrors and windows; they donot leave any lint at all,and leaves the mirrors and windows sparkling. Hope some of these suggestions help. I learned alot when I was in a cleaning bussiness with my daughter. If you have any questions on cleanig;spots,stains soap scum,etc just ask, I may be able to help.

    Posted by Sue Henry | June 22, 2008, 3:29 pm
  7. That was quite helpful. Off of your plan I made my own. I will try tomorrow. I suppose that when you are getting your living “temple” maintained you can also add your spiritual and physical (working out) “temples”. Very good!


    Posted by Andrea | June 22, 2008, 7:33 pm
  8. I smiled big when I read this one because I was one of those that examined your housekeeping schedule on your refrigerator! And just like you said, a good discussion did follow! That was before Eric and I were married. A few months ago, after I had a melt down of tears over not getting things done around the house and not having enough time for Eric, I remembered your list and made one up myself. It has helped me a LOT! It’s a great basic plan to run off of and if I don’t get something done one day, no biggy, I just put it off till the next. I do love the inquisitive faces I see from the men that visit our home while they examine it as well! Great advice!

    Posted by Jen Trelease | June 24, 2008, 5:55 am
  9. I also have a chore schedule. Mine looks more like this:
    Monday-master bedroom, Erin/Maygen’s room
    Tuesday-Bathroom, laundry, dining room
    Wed-Living room, kitchen

    I just assign two rooms a day and make sure I dust, vacuum, scrub floors and if it’s bedroom then change the sheets on that day. Basically I “do” the whole room on the day it’s been assigned. I even list the hallway as a room that way the stairs get swept too. I like to list by days and rooms that way I can memorize it more easily.

    Posted by Michelle | June 24, 2008, 6:40 am
  10. Great plan as well Michelle. It brings up that all important concept that should ALWAYS be kept in mind: these are principles and should be applied in creative ways be unique individuals to meet their particular set of circumstances. The principle Bri introduced was this: establishing patterns for the sake of creating order will bring peace to you and your home. She then shared how she is applying that principle now in her season of life. Michelle took that idea and tweaked it to suit her and her needs. Hooray for principles — and the creativitiy and freedom and help that they bring!

    Job well done by all of you! I’m encouraged.

    Posted by Darlene Sinclair | June 24, 2008, 6:58 am
  11. I loosely follow FlyLady’s plan from http://www.flylady.net but adapted for my family. I have a morning routine & evening routine of maintenance & planning, then other jobs are “assigned” to be done weekly or monthly. I’ve also found that a schedule is very freeing – I don’t have to keep all the things that I need to do in my head because it’s all planned out on paper.

    Posted by Wendy | June 25, 2008, 6:07 pm
  12. I had such routines when I was home all day and homeschooling. It saved me many a night of regret over what shoulda-been-done that day.

    Do you have any suggestions for a full-time working wife who’s on her feet 9.5 hours a day? I have managed to consistently schedule quiet time every morning–more important than any other routine for me. However, many things that should be done aren’t getting done. I’m just so tired at the end of the day.

    ~Deb F.

    Posted by Deb | June 26, 2008, 4:57 pm
  13. @Deb: I would check out flylday.net, the site Wendy referred to above. I’m not totally familiar with everything she has on her site, but I bet there are variations for the working woman! I know that one of her big things is just breaking down housekeeping into bite-sized chunks that are doable… and that sounds like it might help when all you’ve got is the end-of-the-day energy leftovers!

    Posted by Danica | June 26, 2008, 6:54 pm