the messy mom’s guide to a clean(er) house…and a more peaceful life

 I have tried everything. I’ve printed off those adorable cleaning charts from pinterest. I’ve tried to do lists, writing cleaning jobs in my planner, weekend naptime cleaning parties with my super-good-sport-of-a-hubby. I’ve read cool blogs. I’ve pinned gobs of cleanspiration.

Cleaning. Just. Doesn’t. Come. Easy. For. This. Momma.

Since I haven’t been gifted with the cleanliness is godliness gene, and we aren’t in a place to hire a regular cleaning service, I have created:

The messy mom’s guide to keeping your house clean.

Ready? Buckle up…these might require some self discipline!


Okay, don’t feel like you actually have to do any of those things. But they are all very helpful, clean choices. Except maybe #1, #2, and #5.

Seriously though, mommies…we can do this! If you, like me, weren’t born with the innate Martha Stewart standard, there is still hope!

These quick little tips help me keep my home stay clean enough to entertain and host pop-in company without feeling like I need to dive behind a pile of laundry when the doorbell rings.


Let’s break it down now, y’all.

Step 1. Wake up before those sweet babes you live with. This is going to give you a HUUUUUGE head start on your day. Coffee. Reading. Stretching. Showering. Cleaning. Throwing in a load of laundry. My hubby and I are early risers and believe that everyone can become a morning person! Yes, even you! If rising way early sounds unattainable, start with just 10-15 minutes before the kids. This will allow you to grab a shower or a peaceful moment and then throw on a cute outfit for the day. Wearing something you feel great in makes a HUGE difference in your productivity and confidence level. Put on your oxygen mask first mama! (For tips on how to become an early riser, see my “Wakey, Wakey” post.)

Step 2. Daily Laundry. This sounds terrifying, but it’s not as awful as it sounds! You’re going to start a load of laundry before the kids wake up. Easy peasy! One load of laundry a day keeps the piles away. You will transfer laundry and fold yesterday’s load during breakfast power hour (see Step 3).

Step 3. Breakfast Power Hour. This step of keeping a cleaner house is best assisted by your favorite upbeat jams. (My power playlist is a little goofy but I’m happy to share.) While the kids eat breakfast, since you’re already ready for your day thanks to Step 1, you get to be a tornado of clean! This is a short burst of time and energy so you have to give it everything you’ve got. This includes unloading the dishwasher, putting away any clutter, transferring laundry, and folding the load of laundry from yesterday. This has only recently become a part of my routine, but I actually, shockingly love to start my days now by tidying up. If you have busy mornings, you can add a few power hour activities before the kids wake up or after they get dropped at school. **Power hour does not have to be an hour long. It’s usually 20 or 30 minutes for me.

Step 4. 10 little things. This method comes into play when your room or house is SO messy that you don’t know where to start. Breaking things down into tiny steps makes everything feel more attainable. Start by picking up ONE thing. Proceed by picking up NINE more things and even if that’s all you accomplish (10 dishes or 10 toys or folding 10 pieces of laundry), you’re better off than you were 5 minutes ago. That, mommy friends, is a victory worth celebrating! Usually, though, you keep going once you’ve started and get a lot more done than you thought you would! As a bonus, kids who can count love to help with this one! Especially when they see that you’re “playing the 10 game” too. (For more on the 10 little things philosophy, see this post.)

Step 5. A little bit better. Leave each room a tiny bit better than it was yesterday. When you have a relapse day, just remember, it will be super easy for the room to look a “little bit better” tomorrow. For some reason, this helps me mentally. I think, “Wow, if I can follow this step all week, just think how amazing this room will look!” It feels attainable for us messies because it’s just a little tiny bit every day.

Step 6. Kitchen Bedtime Bash. Before you go to bed, make 15 minutes to clean out the sink and wipe down all the counters and tabletops. This isn’t my favorite part of the guide, but it’s the most helpful step. I saw this recommended on one of those clean-freak-I’m-so-jealous-of-your-house-right-now blogs and I think she was onto something. Waking up to a clean counter, table and sink makes me feel like I’m at a bed and breakfast. I don’t think I’ll ever stop being amazed at the power of a clean kitchen over my stress levels! At the very least, load up that dishwasher before you hit the sack and DON’T FORGET TO RUN IT! You will empty it during the Breakfast Power Hour.

Full disclosure: There was a time (especially in our newlywed, pre-dishwasher days) when my messy habits used to leave me so overwhelmed that the thought of cleaning made me want to crawl under the covers and hide. It led us to a LOT of eating out because I just didn’t want to deal with the dishes.

Since becoming a mom, home is where I spend the majority of my time. And even though I want to complain and say tidiness, organization and sparkly counters aren’t attainable for me, I know that’s simply not true. I can do this! You can do this! We messy mom’s can stick together and make our homes happy, smiley and sparkely clean too!

Here are a few awesome cleaning websites with free printables, great ideas, and inspiring pictures so you can continue reading about cleaning rather than actually doing it. 🙂

Clean Mama

A Bowl Full of Lemons

A Slob Becomes Clean

Clean My Space

Happy cleaning, fellow messies! (Remember, you have to find what works for you…but don’t give up!)


What cleaning tips can you add to my guide?

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5 Responses to the messy mom’s guide to a clean(er) house…and a more peaceful life

  1. Katy May 16, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    1. You wrote “y’all” and I love that.
    2. I loved this post!
    3. I totally totally agree with the clean counters and sink, it literally makes me feel so refreshed versus completely overwhelmed when I wake up to a clean kitchen. Plus it motivates me to just keep up with it during the day too!
    4. Love the idea of putting the laundry in before kids get up. I’ve been slacking and hitting the snooze for 20 extra minutes and I think this is the motivation I need to get up the first time!

    Great post friend! Love seeing you encouraged and inspired even in the mundane things you don’t feel are in your nature.

  2. Janice Boekhoff May 16, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Great post, Olivia! These are things I aspire to as a messy mom (well, except for the whole getting up early part). In particular, I need to get better control of my paper piles. Once the kids get in school, they come home with so much stuff. Ugh!

    I find, for me, that doing laundry every day is daunting. I love doing laundry on just one day (usually 6-7 loads), then folding it all that night and I know I’m done for the week. But i know a lot of people who think that’s crazy, too. Like you said, don’t give up and keep searching for what works for you. 🙂

  3. Erin May 17, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    Love this post, Olivia!! I am very similar – I am excellent at making messes (my husband actually calls me The Mess Maker) but I am terrible at cleaning them up…even though I try my best to keep up with them! I love the idea of leaving the house just a little bit better than the day before. I tend to fall into the mindset that if a job is too big to accomplish in a certain amount of time (one nap time, a half hour after dinner but before my kid’s bedtime, etc.) then I just don’t do it. If I do just part of it, at least that’s something. Love it! Thanks for the tips!

  4. Jill Vokt May 21, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    Olivia, it was a pleasure meeting you at PSL yesterday! Blessings with your writing and caring for your little ones.

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