Fitting in household chores


Photo by BHollar

I like to pretend that household chores don’t exist. The easiest way to do that is to fit them into other routines or spots of time. I rarely spend a full 30 minutes cleaning something. Here are ways to sneak in housework:

  • We have a quick 5 minute household pick up in the evening where everyone picks up their own stuff.
  • Stick 5 min jobs in a bowl to grab when you are waiting for water to boil, etc.
  • Simplify your list – does everything need to get done every week? Monthly chores can become quarterly chores.
  • As I was telling a client today, do the things that interfere with your life, not what "looks" good. So cleaning up the kitchen, keeping up with mail, picking up the clutter comes before moving the sofa to get the dust bunnies.
  • Have everyone pick a chore after dinner to get dinner clean up done right away in not much time.
  • Post a laundry schedule to the laundry wall so when you or the kids are throwing a load in before school or work, things like towels and sheets are not forgotten.
  • Wipe down the bathroom right before you wipe down your face for the night.
  • Clean what is bugging you most on the commercials or while waiting for the kids to finish getting ready.
  • Sort the mail while waiting in the car or while watching TV.
  • Take things out of the living room when you leave the room. (That works for other rooms too.)
  • Put the clothes straight into the hamper when you get undressed at the end of the day and the jewelry straight into the box. It takes less than a minute, so don’t con yourself into thinking you are too tired.
  • Pick up your desk as you wait for your computer to shut down or start up.
  • When you get a new magazine, recycle the old one or put it in the car to finish reading while you are waiting for the kids.
  • Before going grocery shopping, do a quick wipe down of the fridge when it is almost empty or have whoever is home do it while you shop.
  • If it takes you more than 3 minutes to dust a room you may have too many knickknacks out. Store some to make cleaning faster.
  • Bring things to the basement or other mindless chores when you are on the phone. When you are on hold, put your phone on speakerphone so you can get a lot of cleaning done while you wait.

What are your favorite ways to sneak in chores?


  • Sue says:

    Thank you for stopping by my blog yesterday. When I saw the photo in this post I thought you must live in Japan! I have some floors like that in my apartment.

    I really like your cleaning suggestions. For us, with 6 people in 880 sq. ft. clutter is the biggest problem. We have so much less stuff than many people, but with four kids things just get cluttered very quickly.

    One thing that I do when the clutter on the floor gets unbearable is call for a “30 clean-up” (or 20, or 50, depending on the need). Each kid is supposed to pick up 30 things, and them they can be done. Their 30 things can be big things like clothes, books, or toys, but I aso let them count each little stray Lego piece, etc. The kids really get into it. It becomes a big competition, and within minutes the floor is clutter free. Sometimes we do this several times a day. That makes me a happier, more relaxed Mama!

    I look forward to checking out more of your suggestions for simplifying. I’ve got my eye on the “how to organize bookshelves” in your sidebar right now!

  • ClutterCollector says:

    There are three ways I ‘sneak in chores’…
    One, while I’m waiting for one thing I do another, i.e. while the coffee brews in the morning, I empty the dishwasher.
    Two, when I leave one room to go into another, I take something with me that belongs there.
    But my biggest thing is to simply put things away, where they belong, when I’m done with them.
    Honestly, easily half the household detritus isn’t dirt, it’s the clutter from not putting things away LOL I speak from experience.
    Thank you for your blog, I often find it helpful when it shows me something I hadn’t thought of or reminds me of what I already know!

  • Toni Sly says:

    I’m Teaching Cleaning Skills To My Adult Son With Autism:

    I really appreciate all your SIMPLE LIFE ideas.

    I am going to introduce this list to my son right now.

    He’s great at following his regular cleaning schedule (structure is very big re autism)

    But I’m hoping he’ll catch on to these “impromptu” methods also.
    He has always followed the “a place for everything & everything in it’s place’ method. (structure is very big re autism)

    I’m very happy that he has recently learned the rewards of the “clean it while it’s clean” theory. 🙂

    He’s thrilled with how QUICK & EASY it is for him to clean when it’s done regularly VS when it’s an OVER DUE BIG DIRTY JOB.

    He doesn’t have the luxury of hiring it done if he gets behind.
    Mom won’t always be around to catch him up several times a year.

    I’m very proud of his progress and the pride he has re his wonderful little home.

    Thank you again!

  • Dixie says:

    I really enjoy your blog. I love these hints, as I work “outside” the home and often feel overwhelmed with the weekend cleaning tasks. Thanks for the tips, and for sharing your wonderful blog!

  • angie says:

    My favorite way to sneak in a chore….clean the sink & toilet while my little guy is in the bathtub since I have to be in there while he’s bathing anyway. I can also declutter the bathroom vanity if it needs to be done.

    I also make school lunches while I cook supper so I have one clean-up and when I leave the kitchen for the evening…everything is done and cleaned up. Also makes my morning routine easier when lunches are made, in the fridge and ready to go. I also cut up fresh fruit and veggies and put into small lunch containers to last for a few days.

    I carry a small bag with me (in the car) with a favorite cookbook or 2 and a grocery list so I can meal plan while my kids are at their extra-curricular activities. I planned 2 weeks worth of meals while my daughter was a skating practice.

    I also grocery shop every 2 weeks. I fully stock the freezer with meat & bread and frozen fruits and veggies for meals, etc. I also stock the pantry to last 2 weeks or more. I only shop for fresh produce and milk every week….makes life sooo much easier!

  • Beth says:

    Thanks for all the fantastic ideas everyone!!!

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