Housekeeping Tips for the Working Mom

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10 Housekeeping Tips for Working Moms @

I receive a lot of questions from moms who work outside the home about how to balance work and homemaking and all the other demands that a wife and mother face each day. For instance this one:

Do you have any suggestions for working moms? I want to be home so badly but I can’t right now and desperately need balance! Work is killing me and my family!” – Robin

and this one:

“I have recently stumbled upon your website and am starting to love it. My only question is how on earth can a working mother accomplish what is out lined on a daily basis? I would love to be able to follow what you have suggested, but obviously this has to be for the stay at home mom? right?” – Marion

So, I want to say up front: I am a work at home mom. I have always been a stay at home mom / work at home mom. I did waitress at night for a short period when I was a divorced mother of three and living with my parents.

Most of the articles on A Virtuous Woman are written from the perspective of a stay at home mom. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing of value for the mom who works outside the home. But I just wanted to preface this article with that information so that there’s no confusion about where I’m coming from.

When I first wrote the series, From Chaos to Calm I still had toddlers at home and my oldest child was 15 years old. I’ve been running A Virtuous Woman since 2001. I’ve been a work at home mom for over fifteen years. My oldest is now 24 years old and he no longer lives at home. I also have a 21 year old daughter who lives at home about half the time. My 18 year old is in college, but she attends our local community college and lives at home and does not have a car so she still depends on us to get where she needs to go, etc. My two youngest girls are ages 12 and 14. I’ve also been a homeschooling mom for over 17 years.

I don’t believe it’s possible to have it “all” and to do it all “well.” Invariably, when our time is divided, something is going to go undone. But, that doesn’t mean we have to do everything “bad” either. We all get the same amount of time each day.

A lot of factors go into the whole “balancing act.”

  • how many children you have
  • what hours you work
  • how much stuff you have accumulated in your house
  • how much your husband is able to help
  • how much your kids are able to help
  • how many outside activities you are involved in

The thing is, even for busy stay at home moms or moms that work at home and home school like me, it can be a real challenge to get everything done. And honestly, the last few years, I’ve had to really learn to juggle life in creative ways – and honestly, I struggle just like everyone else. I’ve learned over the last few years to be more intentional about my time and I do better than I used to about prioritizing my time.

It’s easier to maintain your home if you’re home a lot and home is your main focus. When I was a young mom, I stayed home with my little ones most of the time. For sure, it made homemaking easier.

10 Housekeeping Tips for Working Moms @

But, whether you are a work at home mom, a homeschooling mom, a stay at home mom with lots of outside activities, or a mom who works outside the home, it’s good to have routines and systems in place to make your household run smoothly.

10 Housekeeping Tips for the Working Mom

So, here are a few tips for managing your home for any busy, working mom:

1. Choose one day a week to do the major cleaning. In our house we usually really clean the house on Sunday afternoon if we’re home. Otherwise, I try to have the kids help me keep it picked up and the kitchen clean every other day of the week.

Clutter is a big issue for a lot of women. I still struggle with clutter – even though I’ve been working on getting rid of clutter for the last year. Things are much better, but I still have some areas to tackle – and clutter has a way of repeatedly creeping in if you’re not careful.

Your house will be easier to clean if you have less stuff. Plain and simple. If you are battling clutter in your house, it may take some time before you see real results. But, you might want to dedicate some time each week to go through room by room and decluttering closets, clearing off table tops, and throwing things out until you feel like it’s under control. Then, make a pact with yourself not to bring so much clutter into the house.

Plus, you’ll live longer and feel happier with less clutter in your house!

2. Follow the 7 Golden Rules of Housekeeping. If you follow these rules it makes life easier. Teach them to your family members. You can download the free printable here.

  1. “Put it away, don’t put it down.”
  2. “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
  3. “A tidy house is easier to clean than a messy house.”
  4. “Kids need chores appropriate for their age.”
  5. “Plan, plan, plan – and make a list!”
  6. “Create a routine and stick to it.”
  7. “Don’t wait till the last minute to start a chore. Do it ahead of time.”

3. Do one load of laundry every day. You can put the clothes in the wash before you leave for work and dry and fold when you get home. In my house, my teenagers wash their own laundry. If they don’t have clean clothes it’s their fault. Which has never really been a problem. So, I have less laundry to be responsible for now.

If you still have young children, as they grow, train them how to put their own laundry away neatly and follow up to make sure they do it right. When they are old enough, teach them to fold clothes and match socks. And then when they are pre-teens or teens, teach them how to wash laundry and let them be responsible for it. It’s a life skill everyone needs to have.

If your husband is not opposed, laundry is something he can help with too. Maybe he could start a load for you in the morning or in the evening when he’s home. I know my dad helps my mom with the laundry.

4. Define your priorities. Around 2010 I began feeling very overwhelmed by my schedule. Not only did I have household duties, homeschooling, five kids at home, A Virtuous Woman, and elderly family members to care for – I am a pastor’s wife, had church ministries I was responsible for, and had people constantly “needing” my help,” and more.

I was too busy and some of it was out of my control. But regardless, I knew I needed to make some major changes. I decided what was really important to me. And then I learned to say no. I set up healthy boundaries so that other people could not take advantage of me {including family members} and I began to really live with intention.

I decided my kids and my husband came first. Everything else was negotiable. I made sure I took time each day to just have fun with my kids and enjoy life.

Figure out what the top #5 things you need to focus on each day. If you can fit the rest in, great. Otherwise, give yourself grace and let it go.

5. Go to bed with a clean kitchen every night. This one is so important. There’s nothing worse than waking up to a messy kitchen. It makes you feel defeated before you even begin. If your kids are old enough, this is a great way to let them help you.

6. Use Slow Cooker meals or Freezer meals as often as possible. There’s nothing like coming home to a fully cooked meal when you’re tired. It makes the house smell good and slow cooker meals usually only take a few minutes to throw together.

7. Create a Morning Routine and stick to it. Routines are important for the busy wife and mother. Depending on your schedule and how you can rearrange your mornings – i.e. wake up earlier – having a good morning routine will help you. Here’s a suggested routine that should take less than 1 1/2 hours to complete:

  • prayer and devotion {30 min.}
  • shower and get dressed {30 min.}
  • make bed {2 min.}
  • eat breakfast {15 min.}
  • load dishwasher {5 min.}
  • start washing machine {5 min.}

8. Create an Evening Routine. In our house, each day of the week is different. Which means the days and evenings are not the same day to day, but rather week to week. If you have children’s activities in the evenings or church meetings on some nights, figure out what your weekly schedule looks like and then create evening routines for each day of the week.

If you are coming home from work and immediately need to leave for soccer practice on Tuesday night, be sure you have a meal waiting in the crock pot. Throw some cornbread in the oven or put on a pan of rice {for example} and spend 25 minutes on household chores while those cook. Here’s a suggested evening routine for busy nights:

  • give your kids instructions {i.e. put away your school books, straighten the mudroom floor, chop lettuce for a salad, etc.}
  • sweep floors or vacuum if needed – this is a good chore for kids who are old enough {5 – 10 min}
  • wipe down bathroom sinks {5 min.}
  • switch laundry into dryer {2 min.}
  • do a a quick pick up of the main rooms in the house {10 min.}
  • eat supper
  • load dishwasher
  • leave for soccer practice

On Wednesday nights, you might have prayer meeting and choir practice. If your church offers a family night supper, take advantage of it. Otherwise, follow the same evening routine suggested above.

Fold the laundry when you come home and have everyone put it away before bed. Children should tidy their rooms before bed as well if old enough and make their beds in the morning as well.

On evenings when you’re home the whole evening you can add a few other chores into the mix and be done in less than an hour. For instance:

  • 10 minute declutter
  • an extra load of laundry
  • cleaning out the refrigerator
  • cleaning the bathroom

Every night before bed, prep for the next day. This doesn’t have to take very long, but it can really make your mornings run smoother. Decide what you’re wearing the next day and lay out your clothes. Make lunches at night and place in the refrigerator. Have your children pack their backpacks and place them by the door. Do anything else that will save you time in the morning that you can think of before turning in for the night.

9. One night a week, I suggest you schedule “Family Night” and plan to make it special. The food doesn’t have to be fancy – a quick homemade pizza and popcorn is always a hit. Tacos are popular in my house! Plan for a movie night, game night, or other activity to do together. Live with intention.

It’s also important to have worship together as a family. Even if you can’t do it every night, try for at least once a week – or try have worship time before everyone leaves the table at breakfast or supper time.

Here’s what really important to remember. Everyday you need time to breathe, relax, and enjoy your family. Or, let’s say most days you should factor in time to breathe, relax, and enjoy your family. Ultimately, the people you live with are much more important than the space you live in or the money you make.

Do your best and let go of the rest. You only get one life. Your kids are not little forever. Your husband needs your time and attention, too. If you’re exhausted – you probably need more sleep and more down time. I have found that when I take time each day to sit and laugh with my kids, I feel happier. I feel like I am enjoying my life. It adds something special to my day.

10. Use a planner and/or make lists. Keeping track of what you need to do is helpful. I have lots of Free Printable planner sheets available here. You might also like to check out my collection of This is My Life Planners for busy moms. We’re so busy, it helps me to see everything laid out on a calendar from day to day. I also meal plan each week – and if I fail to do so getting dinner on the table is more stressful.

It’s good to have a check list to keep you on track. But, remember that you are the master of your list. It’s not the master of you! Don’t put more on your to do list than you can actually do in a reasonable amount of time. Do the most important things first. And if you don’t cross everything off – it’s okay! Give yourself grace. The world is not going to end.

Whether you stay home full-time, work from home, work outside the home, we all really desire the same thing – to have happy homes where our families can learn, laugh, and grow together.

I hope these tips were helpful. If you have any tips or more questions you’d like for me to answer, let me know in the comments below!

My “This is My Life” Planner

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  1. Thank you for this post! I work full time as a nurse and lately my job has been very stressful. My house has gotten out of control but since I found your website I'm on my way to making a lot of changes! I've started decluttering, making weekly menus, and using a daily chore chart for myself (no kids at home). My goal is to be able to have my housework and laundry done through the week so my weekends are free for church and spending time relaxing with my hubby. Again, thank you and God Bless! Keep up the good work.
  2. What you said about going to bed with a clean kitchen is sooooo true! Waking up to a sink full of dirty, nasty dishes just sucks! Fun tip: did you know you can get burn stains out of a pan by (carefully) mixing vinegar and baking soda? I found an infographic with all kinds of cleaning shortcuts on this kind of stuff:
  3. Thank you for this post, just for making me feel accepted. I'm nearly in tears because I work full time while my husband stays home with the kids (that's the way it needs to work financially) and struggle with the fact that any sort of religiously themed mothering site usually ignores or even rejects those who work outside the home. Thank you for the encouragement and inclusion!
    1. Hi Kate! You are always welcome here! In fact, you might enjoy my brand new Facebook group: The Ministry of Homemaking. There's quite a few working moms there! God bless you as you care for your family! I do hope you'll visit with me again soon. :)
  4. I so agree with Kate. A lot of places ignore the working mom.. I leave the house at 630am with my kids and get home at 600 - 615pm. It's miserable trying to get anything done at that time. My kids are 4 and 5 so it's getting a little more manageable versus when they were 2 and 3 but unfortunately sometimes the exhaustion sets in and no one wants to look at dishesome or folding laundry before bed. I appreciate you writing this, the crock pot meals are a great idea.
  5. Thanks for this timely post. I am mostly a sahm and have been for nearly 15 years. I work Thursdays and Fridays 4 1/2 hours in the afternoon. I am trying to get into a routine for cleaning and exercising. I did really well for a few weeks with your schedule, but then life got in the way and I am trying to get back into it. I really need to spring clean and organize my kitchen, so after this busy week is over, I will start on that.
  6. I was a working single mom for over 20 years. Once I got good routines in place- the house was clean, there were fresh meals on the table almost every night, and we had weekends free for fun. The only thing I gave up was TV. Well worth it in my book!
  7. This post hits home in so many ways, and on so many levels. I loved your honesty - it can be overwhelming when being pulled in so many different directions; and when so many people 'need' us. The one thing I disagree with is that we can't have it all. I think we can - it just depends in what our 'all' is. It's so subjective. For some working mums it's having a pristine house ALL the time and for others it's just getting dinner on the table a few times a week. If we set our own standards, we can be a lot happier. Living to other people's standards is where issues can crop up. As mums, we know what our individual families want and need and we should feel confident in making the right decision.
  8. Hello Melissa Ringstaff, This is a very helpful article for home cleaning. I really need to do this. I think having a schedule would be so helpful for me, knowing I only have to do one small thing a day will make it feel more manageable for me to follow through.
  9. This is great! Much better than Lori Alexander. I'm 25 right now but I do plan on having children even though I have High Functioning Autism. I'll definitely come back to this when I do have kids and get a job in computer animation!
  10. Hi FIRST_NAME, I found it really helpful because we're not currently in an evening routine with our two children and one on the way. It's been really hard trying to stay organized so that all three are getting what they need- especially as a working mom. Your post was a great reminder of how important evening routines are! The things you mentioned, like reading bedtime stories each night or playing games together before naptime have been huge wins for our family so we'll be sure to keep up those habits. We appreciate your time and thoughtfulness - thanks again!
  11. Thank you for sharing such practical and helpful tips! I recently invested in having all the area rugs cleaned in my house. I can't even tell you how much better they look. I had no idea how dirty they were until I saw them cleaned. I'm trying to keep the rest of my house clean, so I will definitely be using your advice.