Wondering how to create a cleaning schedule for your house that doesn’t set you up for failure? It’s a goal that many of us have, and a common New Year’s Resolution.
I’m here to tell you it is possible, and it’s easier than you think.
Around this time of year, we’re all looking for a fresh start. For some of us, that involves committing to a diet and exercise plan. Others decide they’re finally ready to declutter their homes. (If that’s you, check out my free 30-Day Home Organizing Series.)
But maybe you’re just ready to establish a regular, ongoing cleaning routine to keep your home clean without spending all of your spare time on it.
Today, I’m going to show you how to do just that by leading you through seven steps that will help you create a cleaning schedule that meets your needs.
Why You Need a Cleaning Schedule for Your House
Sometimes, in our eagerness to make changes, we rush into new projects and find ourselves burning out. For example, after deciding to start exercising every day, we go out and run 2 miles. The next morning, we’re sore, so we skip it — which means we’ve already given up our goal of daily exercise.
Since we abandoned our goal, we take it as proof that we can’t stick with anything. And that, of course, convinces us that we shouldn’t bother trying at all. Sound familiar?
Balance Your Time and Energy
When it comes to creating a cleaning schedule, it’s important to spend time strategically thinking and planning rather than just rushing in.
You need to consider how much time and energy you have on both good days and bad ones to create a cleaning routine that you can keep. That means you need to be honest with yourself about how often you’re willing to clean house.
It’s tempting to think “oh, I’ll just do a little every day,” but if you’re a person who enjoys doing nothing on Sunday then don’t set yourself up for failure by scheduling chores seven days a week.
Another example: let’s say you spend Wednesday afternoons carting the kids to after-school activities and doing a bit of grocery shopping while they’re busy. When creating a house cleaning schedule, you may want to leave that day chore-free, so you actually have a chance for some downtime.
Create a Cleaning Schedule in 7 Steps
1. Set Your Own Standard
Why are you cleaning your house? I’m not talking about the need to deal with spills and messes. What I mean is that you need to know why you want your home to be clean: is it for you and your family, or is there some other standard you’re trying to meet? When you create a cleaning schedule, you need to make it all about you.
In the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve received so many emails and comments from people stressed by the pursuit of perfection. You know what I’m talking about: beds made every morning, not a speck of dust in sight, every surface sparkling and tidy — day in and day out.
One reader sent me a despairing message because she couldn’t leave perfectly parallel lines while vacuuming as her mother-in-law does!
So, before you sit down to create a cleaning schedule that works, ask yourself whose standard are trying to meet: yours, or someone else’s?
If you don’t feel the need to have a home that’s continually ready for a magazine photoshoot, then don’t hold yourself to that level of perfection.
2. Decide Which Rooms Matter Most
Most of us have a place or two in the home we need to be clean for our sanity’s sake. For instance, I cannot stand cooking in a dirty kitchen, and at the end of the day, I want to unwind with a glass of wine and a book in my living room. So, guess which rooms were priorities when I decided to create a cleaning schedule?
Maybe you prefer your bathroom to feel like a spa and your bedroom like a retreat. Someone else may need an orderly entryway when they come home and a clean family room where they can watch Netflix after the kids are in bed.
The point is to pick a room or two where you’ll focus a little effort every day to keep it in tip-top shape, while the rest of your house gets enough weekly attention to bring it up to your standards.
3. Evaluate Your Available Time
We are all limited to 1440 minutes each day and need to spend some of them sleeping. You also need time to do enjoyable things, which means you shouldn’t plan to spend all of your non-working hours cleaning house.
Do you only have a half-hour each weekday but plenty of time on the weekends? You’ll want to create a cleaning schedule that allows you to keep your two most important rooms up to your standards all week then fit cleaning the rest around that.
Give your two essential rooms daily attention, then work on the rest of your home from the next most important places to the least.
4. Pick Your Cleaning Approach
Are you a task-based or a room-based cleaner? Before you create a cleaning schedule, decide which approach works for you.
Some people prefer
For me, vacuuming a house makes no appreciable difference if every room is still cluttered. I prefer cleaning room-by-room — and I use weekly printable cleaning checklists to guide me.
Schedule cleaning your most important rooms or tasks on the days you’ve got the most time and energy. For many parents, that’s not actually the weekends but Monday or even Tuesday, since on those days they don’t have to juggle family fun with chore time.
5. Have Some Kind of Daily Cleaning Routine
In addition to tidying your two most important rooms, there are other tasks which shouldn’t be put off for days on end. Doing the dishes, for example, or taking out the kitchen trash.
When you’re creating a cleaning routine, keep daily must-do tasks in mind so you don’t over-schedule yourself. If you don’t, you run the risk of spending an hour making beds, taking out the trash, and picking up toys all before you can start your scheduled chores.
And what happens then? You’ll be tempted to blow off your schedule because you’re tired or out of time, with the result that nothing actually gets cleaned at all.
As someone who works from home, I’ve got a bit more time than many do, so I use this Daily Cleaning Routine to get the whole house looking tidy in the morning then do a weekly cleaning of one other room in the afternoon.
The point is: determine what needs to be done daily to meet your standards and plan on doing that.
6. Schedule Cleaning Time
Make it official: add your cleaning schedule to your calendar. You can just note that Monday is the day you clean the bathroom or vacuum floors, or you can get specific and make an appointment with yourself.
The point is to commit to the cleaning schedule you’ve created, and also to your downtime.
Since I use a room-by-room approach, I’ve set up a recurring daily reminder on my iPhone to tidy up and weekly reminders for each room. On Sundays, I do nothing because having a day without any obligations is important for my sanity.
7. Be Flexible!
Honestly, no one sticks to their schedule all of the time. Kids get sick. We get sick. Hard days at work can leave us too exhausted to clean and in need of self-care instead. Life happens.
Live your life! Enjoy your family! Rest if you’re weary! Then, go back to Step One and get things going again when you’re ready. (Also see, How to Get Motivated to Clean.)
There is so much more to life than having a spotless home 24/7. Whatever cleaning schedule you create should allow for that. Do your best to follow your plan daily, but if you need time off then permit yourself to take it — without guilt.
There Are No Cleaning Trophies
Remember: there’s no trophy for having the cleanest home. (Though you can certainly buy yourself one.) There’s no medal, no award ceremony, and your name won’t be in the paper.
Since it’s not a competition, stop pushing yourself to “win.“ Cleaning your home is one instance where simply trying is a victory.
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