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How to Manage Housework with a Baby

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Inside: Managing housework when you have a baby can feel so overwhelming sometimes, but it doesn’t need to! Follow these super simple tips to cut the overwhelm and get the cleaning done that matters to YOU (hint: it doesn’t need to be Instagram-worthy).

It only takes 2.5 seconds on Pinterest searching for cleaning schedules to make you feel like you should curl up somewhere in your dirty apartment and just.give.up. And that’s for people who don’t have babies and toddlers around.

No wonder we all think we have dirty houses! It’s because the cleaning bloggers are posting these crazy (basically, too hard to achieve) weekly cleaning schedules.

They claim all it takes is 20 minutes a day or something like that. Maybe if you live in a 600 square foot apartment? Maybe?

I don’t know about you, but if I did all the dusting, all the sweeping and vacuuming, cleaning windows and all the other things those blogs recommend, I would be spending at least an hour a day cleaning, let alone tidying (a.k.a. putting things away).

No thanks.

Keep scrolling down to see how I keep my home clean with kids (five to be exact), which will absolutely work for when you have one baby.

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mom doing housework while holding baby

Super Simple Tips for Managing Housework With a Baby

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These tips will make the most difference for keeping a relatively clean house with a new baby in tow.

Notice what’s NOT on this list…

  • Keep your house clean all the time to the highest standards of clean.
  • Clean whenever the baby is sleeping.

Heck to the no. In fact, I am all for embracing the idea of NOT obsessing over a clean house and taking care of yourself FIRST.

Your home doesn’t need to be picture perfect like the Instagram photos. In fact, maybe deleting Instagram is a good idea, at least for a while.

1. Embrace a “do it all at once” (NOT clean as you go) to save energy.

I used to embrace a “clean as you go” mentality. This works really well when you only have one child, and that child is a baby.

With five kids, I’ll occasionally take an item from one room to another to put away, but only if I’m going that way. I’ll try to put away the game when we’re done playing it, or take a dish to the sink.

But I don’t stress over it. Overall, I’ve moved away from a “clean as you go” mentality and replaced it with a “wait and do it all at once” mentality.

Why? Because I’ve found it to be much more efficient for my limited time and energy.

Some examples of “wait and do it all at once”…

  • Round up dishes from around the house at the end of day and do all the dishes/load the dishwasher at once.
  • Pick up the living room once every morning while you wait for your coffee to finish brewing.
  • Toss non-essential items that need to be put away in a single basket, then put it all away once a week, or daily if you have time.

Take the dishes – I don’t load the dishwasher throughout the day. I haven’t for years.

At the end of the day, one child gathers dishes from around the house, I wash the dishes and pans that require hand washing, and my oldest daughter loads the dishwasher and starts it.

I wish I would have known about this idea in my baby days. I would have saved soooo much energy!

Plus, when you do it all at once, you don’t need to rearrange the dishwasher.

Note: The only time I break the “do it all at once” rule is with laundry. As a family of seven we have far too much laundry to do all in one day, so I do a load a day. I put it in in the morning and put away later that day. But if it’s just and your spouse and a baby, choosing one day a week to get all the laundry done might work well for you.

2. Go to bed with a clean kitchen.

In my baby days, someone once gave me the advice to reset the house at the end of the day. Unfortunately, this ended up being overwhelming and pretty exhausting.

If you can do it, great. If not, just do the kitchen.

Once this became a true habit (I feel weird when I don’t do this), it was amazing.

You don’t fully realize the impact of this simple habit until you try it. Why? Because you will mostly notice the ABSENCE of that heavy, “oh crap, I have 40 minutes worth of kitchen clean-up to do when I first wake up” feeling.

Oh, and I can’t find a clean counter to make my morning coffee. Yuck.

The absence of that feeling is absolutely worth the effort you put in at the end of the day to make this happen.

How do you make this a habit? Attach it to something you already do.

Do you put the baby down for a nap or for bed around 7:30 or 8pm? Clean the kitchen right afterward. Or always clean up the kitchen right after dinner.

Make sure to reward yourself every single day for the first couple weeks with a small treat when you’re done – a piece of chocolate, a sparkling water or basically anything that makes you feel awesome.

And when you have a clean kitchen every morning, it will make your days so.much.easier.

You’ll have the clean counter for coffee, you and/or your spouse will be able to prep a packed lunch easily on those same clean counters, and you won’t find making dinner so intimidating because the pots and pans will be clean and ready to go.

3. Have less stuff.

If your baby is still a newborn, don’t worry about this right now. But overall, when you have less stuff, you spend less time cleaning and less time organizing (and reorganizing).

While there are pros and cons to minimalism, there are mostly pros. Every single item in your house requires your care – to store it, clean it, organize it, repair it.

And even if it’s just sitting, seemingly harmless, on a shelf in your closet, it’s taking up mental space in your head, trust me.

So make time to declutter – you’ll thank me later when a clean house is no longer a big worry anymore. You can do this in just 15 minutes a day using these steps.

(Watch Marie Kondo’s decluttering shows on Netflix when you need extra inspiration!)

Related: Top 12 Minimalist Baby Toys for the First Year and Beyond

4. Give every item a home.

You know what takes the most time when cleaning up? Trying to figure out where to put the stuff you’re tidying up.

You hold onto that piece of paper wondering where to put it.

You debate about what to do with a clipboard you were using earlier.

And where do the post-it notes go again?

It’s a huge time suck when you haven’t given things a home, so get back your time, and give them a home already. It doesn’t need to be fancy or require buying extra trays or baskets, although you certainly can do that.

Just assign items a single home and always put it back there when you’re done or tidying up at the end of the day. It’s that simple.

5. Do housework when you’re motivated to do housework, OR create a basic cleaning schedule.

I don’t know what season you’re in right now. If you are looking for this post, my hunch is that you are extremely exhausted and overwhelmed.

When you’re in that kind of season where you don’t know which way is up, clean the kitchen at the end of every day and nothing else, until you feel like your life is a little more under control and you have more energy.

Otherwise, clean when you’re motivated to do so, and prioritize which rooms get that energy first, like the bathroom.

When you’re ready, create a super simple cleaning schedule. Here’s how:

  • Prioritize weekly cleaning – decide what needs to be done every week and what can wait longer (for me that’s bathrooms, vacuuming and taking trash to the dump).
  • Time how long those weekly tasks take you. There is often a mental block to cleaning if you think a task is going to take a super long time. When you know the bathroom only takes 20 minutes to clean, it’s a lot easier to assign it a day and get er’ done.
  • Assign each task a day of the week, leaving at least 1-2 days off every week.

My current simple cleaning schedule looks like this:

  • Monday – Master Bathroom
  • Tuesday – Boys’ Bathroom
  • Wednesday – Main Bathroom
  • Thursday – Vacuum/Wipe Surfaces Downstairs
  • Friday – Vacuum/Wipe Surfaces Upstairs

As I said earlier, I put in a load of laundry in the morning and put it away at night. One a day keeps us in clothes.

Every other task and room gets done when I have the energy and motivation to do so. So give yourself the same free pass – your home doesn’t need to be perfect.

mom vacuuming and cleaning house while baby is sleeping

Your House Doesn’t Need to Be Squeaky Clean – Promise

I really meant what I said about Instagram.

If after scrolling that app, you feel like crap about your less than squeaky clean home, delete it for a while. You can always get it back.

The same probably goes for home/decorating magazines. If it makes you feel bad about your home, stop reading them.

Your house (and your stuff) is meant to be lived it and to serve you and your growing family, not to keep you in chains.

You have a new little baby that deserves to be front and center, to be top priority. Do the basic housework that keeps life running smoothly (like the kitchen, and maybe laundry, too), and let the rest happen when it happens.

Figure out what housework matters to you right now, in this baby season of life, and let go of the rest.

Most cleaning tasks can wait – honest.

Read Next: How to Organize Baby Stuff in Small Spaces

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