Who wouldn’t want the freedom of a 30-second commute, the ability to be at home after school, and flexible hours? Working from home is one of the greatest perks of today’s technology.
But if you’re a busy mom trying to stay on top of the housework, shuffle kids around town, and excel in the workplace, you have your own unique challenges. It’s difficult to work when there are dishes in the sink or piles of laundry waiting to be folded. It’s tempting to quickly step away from the computer to take care of a few things, but then you could fall behind on work.
The scales are always tipping to one side, and it seems like you can never find the perfect balance to work productively while creating a clean, fresh atmosphere at home.
Guess what? It is possible to get your house in order without sacrificing your work! You just have to apply some discipline and try the following strategies.
1. Give Yourself a Break
First of all, cut yourself some slack. You’re basically Wonder Woman, but you can’t expect your house to be as clean as that of a stay-at-home mom. If there’s a little clutter on your entryway table or the picture frames haven’t been dusted for a couple of weeks, you’ll just have to let it go. You have enough on your plate without making yourself feel guilty about not having a perfect house.
Figure out what routine works for you. If you’re like our friend Vera, your work-at-home routine may depend on an indulgent morning beverage and need Netflix playing in the background while you work.
2. Time Yourself
It would be ideal if you could get your work done first, and then tend to the house after. But on days when you can’t concentrate because of your chores, bring the two worlds together.
Set a timer for 30 minutes and get as much quality work done as you can in that time frame. Then, set the timer for 15 minutes and do housework. You can shorten or extend the time frames to meet your needs, but the principle is an excellent way to maintain productivity in both worlds.
3. Set Yourself Up for Success
The house is much easier to keep clean each day if you’re ready the night before. After the dishes are done, empty the dishwasher either before you go to bed or first thing in the morning. Then, whenever you dirty a dish, it can instantly go in the dishwasher rather than putting it in the sink.
You can also organize your laundry room with multiple baskets for different colors. Instruct your family to separate their clothes by colors before tossing them into the room. It may not stay perfectly separated, but it will cut down the work for you.
4. Pick Up 5 Things When You Leave a Room
Even if you don’t feel like you have time to stop work to clean, you will need to eat, drink, and use the bathroom throughout the day. Each time you get up for any of these essential tasks, pick up five things that aren’t in their correct place, and return them; you can even increase the number of items if you need to. It’s a slow process, but it will make a noticeable dent.
5. Meal Plan and Make Freezer Meals
It’s hard to feel like you have time to cook every night, but ordering pizza or takeout is not ideal for every family meal. It’s unhealthy and expensive, and you’re less likely to spend time together over a family meal.
Beat this problem by planning out your meals at the end of the week and/or making some ahead of time. On Saturday, make a list of seven meals that you can easily put together and eat throughout the week. Make-ahead freezer meals can easily be thrown into the crockpot or the oven on particularly busy days. Oftentimes, having a plan is all you need to escape the stresses of cooking.
6. Make the Beds and Tidy the Living Room
It will take you less than 10 minutes to make every bed in the house and primp the furniture, but the result will be much longer lasting. Each room will look more put together and inviting. It will create a more peaceful atmosphere in which you can work productively.
7. Don’t Try to Do It Alone
You’re not the only person living in your household, and you shouldn’t be the only one responsible for the housework. Get your family members involved. Divide the chores and institute after-dinner cleanups in which everyone works to ready the house for the next day.
It’s actually a great time to bond with your kids and teach them some responsibility, even if they don’t realize it at the time.
8. Get Rid of Stuff
It’s true that kids can wreak havoc on a household with their gym socks and toys. However, the real reason homes easily become disheveled is too much stuff.
Spend a few of your weekends decluttering. Go through clothes, toys, storage bins, closets, and all your extra items to decide what you really want to keep. Remember that other than some keepsakes and mementos, it’s all just stuff. It can be replaced, but you really don’t need as much as you think.
Once you’ve minimized your lifestyle, you’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to clean your house. Things will have designated places, and you’ll get to spend your Saturdays with your family rather than deep cleaning.
Written by Jenna Cyprus, a freelance writer and business consultant who covers business, technology, and entrepreneurship.
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