A Working Mom’s Cleaning Schedule

I’m not a fan of cleaning the house. Even before Abby came along I wasn’t a fan of spending my free time on the weekends cleaning house. I’m just not wired to be a neat freak. Once Abby was born, and I got to stay home with her for a little over 5 months, I channeled my domestic abilities and appreciated a tidy home. Plusalso, the constant baby wearing/vacuuming lent itself to some good napping for the kiddo and exercise for me. And her willingness and joy of sitting in the bouncy chair also helped me to find all the time in the world to tend to house.

Then I went back to work, and there never seemed to be enough time in the day to get all the things done. Though she was a great napper on the weekends, I also had grocery shopping to do, grading to get done  and curriculum to get figured out. I was always stressed, and spending 2-3 hours to clean was just an added stress. (NOTE: My husband does help, be he also takes care of all other house things that I have no intuition about like figuring out how to keep our lawn alive, you know?)

For a few months, we hired someone to come in to clean our home. And then I realized how much money we were forking out for someone to clean our home and how really we could be utilizing that money towards a better use.

As this school year began, I swore to myself I’d get this cleaning house thing figured out. I mean during the summer when I had all the time in the world and a kiddo who could easily entertain herself so I didn’t have to rely on naps to find time to clean, I failed miserably at keeping up. So a plan was hatched. I had seen on Pinterest how people would post schedules on how to keep their house clean with a monthly schedule. The thing, though, was that they were crazy detailed and involved cleaning baseboards and deep cleaning the carpet and and all that jazz. That’s so not me and really I don’t have time for all that.  But I knew the idea was good; to just do a little every day. So I came up with a two week plan to keep my house in order. The original plan looked like this:

I thought about what would take the least amount of energy during the week. I thought about the fact that it takes me a couple days to put the laundry away so Saturday for the bulk of it to get clean would leave me Sunday to put it away. I thought about how the guest bathroom, which still gets a lot of use out of it during the week, and the half bathroom downstairs don’t need to be cleaned every week. I thought about how on Monday I didn’t want to have much to do especially as the kiddo loves helping momma dust and does a good job at all the things she can reach. I thought about how I’d be able to keep track of what week was just garbage out and what week was recycling too as we’ve been known to miss recycling days and have had an overflow situation in our garage before. And I thought about what where the must do things everyday to keep me sane like making sure to get all the toys picked up and go to sleep with an empty sink and a loaded up dishwasher.

Of course as time goes on, and I’m through the first two weeks of me being back to work, I’ve made some adjustments to the schedule:

What I realized for how our house runs was:

  • I was nuts for thinking that on a Friday I was going to want to/have the energy to vacuum my house.
  • Our main bathroom did not need to be scrubbed once a week. Every other week would be fine as wiping down counter tops happens often.
  • It wouldn’t take much time at all to get both the guest bathroom and half bathroom cleaned in the same day considering the only time someone uses the tub/shower in the guest bathroom is when we have guests so I only have to do a quick dust of the tub on Monday.
  • Vacuuming Sunday would be easier for me to wrap my head around as it takes about 10-13 minutes to do and I wouldn’t mind that on the last day of the weekend.

Let me just say that this is a schedule I can sustain, and not feel guilty about if something happens and I have to push one item to another day. Each of the tasks, besides the daily ones, take about 10-20 minutes to do, save for the bathroom which tends to take a bit longer. When I’m tired and don’t want to clean, I just remind myself that it doesn’t take that long to do. And the biggest lifesaver I have is also the most important tip I have for you if you think this type of schedule could work for you: COMMUNICATE THIS PLAN WITH YOUR SIGNIFICANT OTHER…if you are lucky enough to have one on your side. My husband knows that at the end of the day I want the dishes to be out of sight and if needed the dishwasher going. And you know what, he’s the one who now mostly clears the table after dinner and gets the dishwasher going since I told him of my plans. He also knows that on Thursday night, after dinner is done and before bedtime for the kiddo happens, that he gets to whisk Abby upstairs so I can quickly sweep and mop the hard floors before joining them for the pre-bath dance parties. Since making this cleaning schedule, posting it and sharing the details with my husband, I find that we are working like the best well oiled machine when it comes to keeping our household going since having Abby.

Is my house spotless, passing a white glove test? Hell no. But it’s getting better and perhaps one day I’ll be able to think out a yearly deep cleaning schedule.

What about you? Do you have a similar cleaning schedule? What helps you to keep your household running smoothly? And do you allow space for forgiveness like me if you have to adjust your system to accommodate what life tends to throw at you without any notice?


  • Madonna says:

    This is how I operate in order to keep the house from looking like a bomb went off in it every.single.night. And even then, there’s the occassional week where I give up by Wednesday because I’m too exhausted to deal. (We just have too much stuff for our tiny house right now.)

    We had a very affordable cleaning person for awhile, but then she had a baby and her replacement was not as thorough as she was. As cheap as it was, it wasn’t worth it when the house wasn’t getting as clean as we expected. We may consider going that route again after I return to work from maternity leave with kid #2. I’m just not sure my sanity will be able to keep up!

    • Tracy says:

      I totally hear that on the insanity thing. It was such a relief for those few months when I had some help. I can’t imagine what it will be like with two kids! But seriously, Abby at almost 3, is such a help. She loves wiping down the dishwasher and oven fronts and she knows how to work a duster. Plus, she’s helpful at putting her clothes away…well the ones that don’t need to get hung up that is.
      Twitter: wa_tracy

    • Neni says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your cleaning schedule!! This makes total sense and gives a framework to start with. Also, glad to see there’s more women out there juggling a teaching career, being a mommy/wifey, and keeping a home running smoothly.

  • Maureen says:

    I am thrilled to find someone who feels the same way I do. When I am cleaning the house I think of all the other things I want to be doing. I also feel that when I do a white tornado cleaning job it should last a month at least. LOL I spend hours cleaning the kitchen and then my husband starts making dinner (yes he cooks or we would eat bland mac and cheese every night) and I complain I just cleaned please don’t mess up the kitchen. To which he replies this is what a kitchen is for. I also need to mention I have 4 animals and a wood floor need I say more. Anyway I am impressed with your schedule. I will say I just got a full time job and now that a bit of the $$ is taken off I do feel like I am getting more organized than I have been in a long time. However if anyone did the white glove test in my house I would not pass at all. I also have a mail order toddler business that my daughter and I started when I couldn’t find a job and promote that after work as well. No complaints just very busy. Enjoyed your blog. Maureen
    Twitter: kidsyougotmail

  • Lauren says:

    I’m totally going to use this plan… I am struggling to keep our house clean (my hubby helps, of course) and once I start working from home and adding a newborn into the mix in a few weeks I’m going to really need a routine.. You’re the best for sharing this!
    Lauren recently posted..Making the Transition from WOHM to WAHMMy Profile
    Twitter: laurenacarlton

    • Tracy says:

      I can’t believe baby comes in just a few weeks! And seriously, I’m so much more content since I created this new system. And you know what, this past week I didn’t dust. But whatever. I’ll get that taking care of this coming week. No big deal. It’s not set in stone. I’m sure with a newborn, flexibility will be your friend ;)
      Twitter: wa_tracy

  • Cortney says:

    I had posted on Facebook months ago if any of my friends had a cleaning schedule and everyone’s response was not to worry about a clean house. That was unacceptable to me! I can’t take the mess any more. It seems that no matter how hard I work on one task, at the end of the day it looks like I’ve done nothing at all! I am going to try your schedule. I have my office out of the house and am pulled out for meetings whenever they happen so as long as I can get a schedule of what days things need to get done, it won’t matter what time of day I do them! Thanks for posting, I think this will work for us!!

  • Sandra says:

    thanks for sharing – i am a telecommuting mom with a 5 year old and 2 year old. the benefit of being at home with them is great but the house suffers. my home office? forget about it. i needed something like this to keep me on track! thanks!

    • Tracy says:

      So glad you’ve found it helpful! I don’t always stick to it each week, but segmenting out is so helpful.
      Twitter: wa_tracy

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  • Cleaning is not my favorite thing. This is a great schedule. I am going to come back and try this.

  • Melissa Anderson says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Just this week I was thinking how a schedule would simplify balancing household chores with our work schedules. This is a realistic approach of balancing what we can achieve during the week. I’m going to incorporate meal planning into my schedule as well. Even if it’s not strictly followed it will bring some order to the chaos!

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