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Keeping a tidy house everyday can be challenging–make that impossible when you have children. I always find it amazing how a house can go from being spotless to a disaster in less than an hour. I mean, It is almost as if kids and pets have a sixth sense for knowing when to create a mess. I tried for years to keep our house picked up and tidy and I always felt like I was behind. I spent my weekends “getting caught up” on the chores. Between the loads of laundry, dishes, and everyday messes of a family of five, it was an uphill battle. That is, until my husband and I implemented the fifteen minute rule to maintain a tidy house. This rule literally changed our lives!
Fifteen Minutes to a Tidy House
Each night, after we put the kids to bed, we spend fifteen minutes going through the house tidying up. We don’t sit, we don’t relax, we get right to business for a QUICK fifteen minute tidy-up session. If there’s still dishes that need to be dealt with, shoes that didn’t make it to closets, toys that didn’t get picked up, we use those fifteen minutes to tie up loose ends. When the fifteen minutes are up, then we relax (realistically we go to bed because, you know, three kids and all).
Fifteen minutes is not a lot of time but, if you break it down, two people tidying up for fifteen minutes, is a full, uninterrupted half hour spent straightening up the house. It doesn’t seem like it makes a difference but let me tell you it does! Think about what you can accomplish in 15 minutes. In fifteen minutes one person could do one of the things from the list below:
- Fold and put away a load of laundry
- Unload and load the dishwasher
- Run the vacuum through the entire house
Don't Take on Too Much
You don’t have to do all of those things every night. That’s just not realistic and it’s not sustainable. Also remember, the fifteen minutes is for tidying up, not for deep cleaning and serious scrubbing. If you have the energy to tackle those tasks at night, more power to you. But spending one night vacuuming, or doing a load of laundry does take the burden off the weekend. In fact, if we don’t get everything done in fifteen minutes, that’s okay too. We just know that we are committed to the fifteen minutes to at least make a dent in the housework.
Consistency is Key
Believe it or not, there are some nights where it does not even take fifteen minutes. If you stick to fifteen minutes every single night, then things aren’t piling up and there is less to do. I’ll admit, there are nights that all I want to do his hit the couch as soon as the kids are asleep because I am exhausted, but I know that the second my butt hits that couch, I ain’t getting up! If you aren’t consistent, the fifteen minute rule will fail. Things pile up and a “skipped night” means double the work the next night and before you know it, you are back to playing catchup. Consistency is key. Knowing that I only have fifteen minutes ahead of me is motivating. Plus, there’s nothing worse than waking up in the morning to get out the door with the kids, trying to prepare breakfast around last night’s dirty dishes, or searching for a shoe that’s not in its place. Not too mention, I LOVE the feeling of waking up to a tidy house! It makes me feel like I am one of those moms that has their life together… even if it’s only an illusion. Starting your day with a tidy house just makes your day run smoother. See my tips for getting out the door with less stress here.
Fifteen Minutes EVERY day
To recap, the fifteen minute rule is simple. Spend fifteen minutes EVERY night tidying up the messes from the day. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT try to do this while the kids are awake. Trying to clean up while the kids are awake is like bailing water out of a sinking ship, you’re doing a lot of work but you aren’t making any progress. After your fifteen minutes, pour that glass of wine, put on your favorite show and bask in the fact that you can keep a clean house, even with kids!