A Good-Enough Housekeeping Routine: Homemaking Series, Pt. 3

Welcome to Part 3 of the Homemaking for Real People Series! Last Monday I wrote about my why behind the idea of  “Good Enough Housekeeping.” Today I’m going to talk about how we can start keeping our house in good working order and relatively clean without being total neat-freaks. I think most of us would like to have a house that feels uncluttered and could be “good enough” for company in under an hour. So we have to find a way to balance keeping order and not getting caught up in the details. Let’s get to work!

Define Your Priorities

The first step to creating a workable housekeeping routine is to take a good look around your home and decide what areas are the most important for you to keep clean and neat. You can do this a couple of ways. First, think about the areas in your home that get the most use, like the kitchen and bathrooms. Those are probably going to be your highest priority for getting and keeping clean because they need to be ready for use so much of the time.

You may also want to go through each room in the house and identify “problem areas” that seem to perpetually get messy or cluttered. Once you have identified all the problem areas, you can (hopefully) think of a solution to help keep those messes at bay, whether that be adding a daily “clearing up” time specifically for those spots, or better organization, or maybe just better habit training for your children (or yourself!). 

Take some time to write down a list of the areas of your home that are the highest priorities for you to clean, maybe even listing them in order of importance. I would also challenge you to write down at least one area that is NOT a priority for you right now, and give yourself permission to let it go for a while.

Divide Up Your Tasks

Next it is time to think about what specific tasks need done in order to keep your priority areas neat and tidy. Write each task down, then note how frequently you would like it to be done. In my kitchen, for instance, these are the main tasks that need to happen on a regular basis: 

  • Wash dishes: at least daily, preferably after every meal
  • Wipe down counters and table: at least once daily, preferably after ever meal
  • Wipe down stovetop, sink and faucet: once daily
  • Sweep floor: once daily
  • Mop floor: once a week
  • Empty trash: once a week, or as needed

There are some extra deep-cleaning tasks I could add to that list as well, but they are things that need done less frequently, like cleaning out the fridge, reorganizing the pantry, and cleaning the oven. 

Once you have written out what specific tasks you have and how often you need to be doing them, take a good, hard look at that list and make sure you have reasonable expectations for yourself and your family. When I look at my list above, for instance, I know that although I would like to have the kitchen and dining area mopped once a week, that rarely actually happens. So I need to decide if it is my routine or my expectation that needs to change.

Decide on a Plan

Finally, it is time to make a plan. This is the most personal and flexible part, so I am not going to give you specific instructions on how to make your plan. You need to find a routine for cleaning that works for you and your family. If you have children 3 and up, they can be taught how to help with some basic chores. If you are married and your spouse is willing, perhaps you can divide up some tasks between you. It may help to create a short list of morning tasks and evening tasks that you can post somewhere in your house to remind you to get those key things done daily. You may want to assign specific days to specific rooms, or to specific weekly tasks so that you know they will get done on a regular basis. 

The key in our “Good Enough Housekeeping” routine is having grace and giving ourselves permission to miss a day here and there. Maybe you even need to plan a “day off” every week in which you purposefully don’t do any housework beyond what is absolutely necessary. Keep your expectations reasonable. Don’t compare yourself or your current situation to someone’s pretty Pinterest or Instagram photos. Do what you can, when you can. Remember to put relationships first. Housekeeping is an act of service to your family and those who enter your home, but it is not the end all be all! 

Previous posts in this series:

Part 1: Intro to Homemaking for Real People

Part 2: Why Just “Good Enough” Housekeeping?

Why Just “Good Enough” Housekeeping? Homemaking Series, Pt. 2

The Backstory

Before I jump into the how of creating a “good enough” housekeeping routine, I wanted to give you a little backstory on the why. When my husband and I were newlyweds, we both started working outside the home right away, and when we were home in the evenings and on weekends we generally shared the load of housework pretty evenly. After he finished seminary and got a full-time job in music ministry, we decided I would stay home. But we did not have children for a few years, so I got used to having a lot of time during the day to do whatever needed done whenever I wanted to do it. Since time was at a maximum, I didn’t really need to learn to manage it well. Then, when we finally started a family, I was completely thrown for a loop. Life was messy for us on a whole lot of levels (that I won’t go into here), and I did not have a clue how to manage a house while caring for a baby and our pets and still be a halfway decent wife. 

Unreasonable Expectations

When I finally did what any normal internet-age housewife does and hit up Pinterest and Google for “home management planners” and “housecleaning schedules” and the like, I was immediately frustrated and dismayed. All the lists of all the things I was “supposed” to be doing just overwhelmed me even more! Some people’s lists included tasks that did not apply to my house at all. Others seemed to have no grounding in reality at all, at least for a mother of an infant or toddler. In an effort to measure up to these goals of housekeeping perfection, I would swing to the extreme and try to clean All the Things, All the Time. But I would quickly burn out and not to do any housework for days, if I could possibly help it. Obviously, this did not work well at all.

Finding Balance and Grace

I am glad to report that this crazy cycle did not last forever. I finally did find a balance and learned how to keep a reasonably clean house without going crazy over the details but not living in squalor, either. The key was GRACE. I had to recognize my own limitations, get over my perfectionism, quit comparing myself to others, and give myself grace. Once I received the grace of not having to measure up to someone else’s (or even my own unreasonably high) expectations, then I was free to do what needed to be done without any guilt. Yes, I still had to work at keeping a clean house. But I was released from the idea that it all had to be perfect or had to be done a certain way. It just needed to be good enough for our family. And that was a huge game-changer for this little rule-following momma! 

What’s Your Struggle?

Maybe you struggle with some other aspect of keeping your house in “good enough” shape. Perhaps it isn’t perfectionism that has you overwhelmed like I was. Perhaps you just plain don’t see the messes as a problem. Perhaps you are overwhelmed by too much stuff and don’t even know where to begin. Let me know in the comments what your biggest struggle with housekeeping is. I would love to get a conversation going and see how we can help each other out! I may have some extra helpful resources to share at the end of this series, so come on back next week for more!

Previous Posts in the Homemaking for Real People Series:

Intro to Homemaking for Real People: Homemaking Series, Pt. 1

Turn, turn, turn- Five Minute Fridays

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)…

This old song by “The Byrds” popped into my head immediately with this week’s prompt. I started thinking about the concept of seasons, both in the weather and in life. Right now here in Middle Tennessee we are experiencing a cooler than usual spring, as I’m sure many others are, as well. But the seasons definitely are changing. The leaves are opening on the trees. The wildflowers are blooming in the fields and woods. The birds are nesting and singing sweetly each morning. It is a hopeful time.

Thankfully, the seasons seem to be changing a bit in our family life as well. After a long, difficult transition period over the last couple of years, we are coming into a spring of sorts. My children are older and more able to help me and help themselves around the house. We are in a good rhythm in our homeschool days. My husband and I have been exercising and keeping each other accountable to get back to taking care of our health. Our finances have stabilized thanks to more part time work and generous gifts from friends and family. And our house is under contract again, and there is hope that we will actually get to close the sale this time around! I am reading some excellent books and doing some deep thinking, forming newer and healthier thinking habits. We are putting down roots here in TN, and it feels like growth is happening. Change is coming, and it feels good!


This post is part of the Five Minute Fridays link-up hosted by Kate Motaung. Join the FMF community and get your free-write on! Find my other Five Minute Fridays posts here.

Fitting in Fitness as a Stay-at-Home Mom

 Let me preface this post by saying I am by no means a fitness fanatic. In fact, most of my life I have tried to find ways to avoid strenuous exercise such as running or lifting weights. It is highly unlikely you will ever find me joining CrossFit or Camp Gladiator or the like.

However, as a wife and mother inching ever closer to that “dreaded” decade beginning with the number “4,” I am becoming increasingly aware of my need to take better care of my physical health. It’s not about being a certain weight or fitting into a certain size of jeans…hey, sometimes I think about giving up jeans altogether and just living in comfy pants and skirts year round! What fitness is about for me is being healthy enough to serve my family, friends and community well. I want to have the energy to chase my kids around the yard, to take long hikes through the local nature parks, and to get through long days of housework and homeschooling and not be too tired to enjoy time with my husband.

And those are just things I want for myself in the present stage of life. As I focus my thoughts on the future, say 20 years from now, my motivation for staying physically fit changes a bit. I want to be able to get down on the floor and play with my future grandchildren without worrying that I may never be able to get back up again. I want to be able to travel and enjoy the empty-nest stage going on new adventures with my husband without the concern of preventable health problems.

As a busy stay-at-home mom with young children and a budget that prohibits extra expenses like a gym membership, the trick is finding creative ways to fit fitness into my daily routine. Honestly, even if I could afford to go to a gym all the time, I really wouldn’t do it. I’m a major homebody and introvert, and I hate, hate, HATE working out in public. So it works best for me to find things I can do at home that are either very inexpensive, or, even better, free! Sometimes I get up early and work out first thing in the morning. Sometimes I use a few free minutes during my daughter’s nap. Others I unwind with a little exercise at the end of the day after the kids are in bed. The key is making it a priority and being intentional!

Here are a few of the ways I have found to fit in fitness even as a busy homeschooling mom who doesn’t really love to work out in the first place:

  1. Getting a FitBit and working on upping my steps. This is the most recent change that my husband and I have both made, and we are loving it! He works a desk job, and I sit on the couch and read to kids for a large part of the day. It is easy to become “couch-shaped” when that is the norm! Now that I have a FitBit to keep me accountable and remind me to get off the couch, I am becoming more active throughout the day. One creative way I’m getting in more steps is by walking around while I read a book. Exercising my brain and my body at the same time is a win-win!
  2. Doing 30 minutes of yoga every morning. I love, love, love doing yoga but had gotten out of the habit after having my daughter (3 years ago now, yikes!) My current favorite routines are “Yoga with Adriene” videos  on Youtube. I’m working my way through her 30-day “True” challenge from the beginning of the year right now, and it is so yummy!
  3. Following Fit2B workout paths. Beth Learn has created such a wonderful wealth of mom-life friendly workouts to do at home. She is a gentle coach, both motivating and encouraging. I have done many, many of her workouts since I found her membership site when my son was just a little guy, and I still love them all! Whether I am in need of some gentle stretching or a more challenging workout, I know I can always find something to fit the bill at Fit2B.

If you are a homeschooling mom, or a mom of littles, I would love to hear how you stay motivated and find time to work out on a regular basis, especially if fitness does not come naturally to you. I can always use more creative ideas to fit fitness into my daily life!

Intro to Homemaking for Real People: Homemaking Series, Part 1

Do you ever look at images on Pinterest or Instagram and ask yourself, “Does she ever do anything besides clean or cook and take pictures of the results?” Or maybe you are more tempted to ask, “Why can’t my house ever look that picture-perfect?” Either way, going down that rabbit hole of comparison is a dangerous path to take, isn’t it? We have to remember that those little pictures are not the whole package. We can only see a small piece of someone else’s life, and what we see may or may not reflect real life.

Why write about homemaking for real people?

The fact is, we are real people with real life situations and real busy schedules. As a result, sometimes our houses are going to be a REAL mess! And that’s okay. We can, however, aim to take control of the mess and find some order and beauty in the ordinary. Over the last 14 years of marriage, and even more so the last 7 years of motherhood, I have been finding ways to make homemaking a priority without sacrificing relationships. After years of swinging from perfectionism to sloth, I am finally able to keep our house in a tolerable state of cleanliness, to have a manageable schedule in most seasons, and to keep healthful food on the table and in the pantry. Thus, the inspiration for this blog series!

What is homemaking for real people?

Homemaking for real people is all about having grace while also getting things done. It is about doing what you can, when you can, to keep a balanced household without killing yourself. This series is for anyone who has a home, whether you are married, single, have kids in the home or not. I will talk a lot about routines and systems we have in place currently, which means they include my husband and our kids. These are things I wish I would have learned how to do a lot earlier on in life so that good habits had been in place before I became a mom. I will also weave in little bits of wisdom regarding our attitudes toward homemaking and having grace with ourselves and those who share our homes.

Topics I will cover in this series are as follows:

  • Good Enough Housekeeping Routines– Why and How
  • Daily “Quick Win” Tasks
  • Keeping the Laundry Monster at Bay
  • The Reluctant Cook’s Guide to Meal Planning

Every Monday for the next month, I will be sharing a new post from the list. I would love to hear from you as we go through this series. If you struggle with a specific area of homemaking I didn’t mention above, we could tackle that topic, too. Just leave me a comment here or on my Facebook page. If you have an extra tip to add, please share that with us, too! We can all learn from each other. Join me back here next Monday, and let’s embrace this concept of homemaking for real people together, one real day at a time.

The Reading Report, Vol. 11: April Edition

I’m baaaack! I really hated to take over a week-long hiatus from the blog, but we just had a lot of real life going on that interrupted my writing life. I finally feel like I’m getting some ideas on what to write again, so hopefully, I will be back with more regular posts in the coming weeks.

The good news is that my plan for “spring cleaning” my reading life last month worked out really well, and I have several finished titles to discuss today. I also have started (or re-started) a few books that are giving me a lot to think about! So, let’s talk books, shall we?

What I Finished Reading:

True Grit: This was my first time reading a western novel, and I LOVED it! It was the most recent pick for the Circe Close Reads podcast, so I knew it would be good. I just didn’t know what to expect. I was most surprised by how much I laughed while reading this book. The adventure part of the story was fast-paced and made for a quick read. Be warned…there are snakes, gunshot wounds, spiders, bats and skeletons! But the story is so well-crafted, that I think it is totally worth the any discomfort caused by those little details!

Hello Mornings: If you are needing a fresh start or just a little “kick in the pants” to get into a good morning routine that will set your day off in the right direction, I can recommend Kat Lee’s book, Hello Mornings! Her personal stories and encouraging and touching, and her writing style is candid and uplifting. The practical suggestions and questions for reflection throughout will help you take action to make your mornings count. Even though I have a pretty workable morning routine already, it was good to think about how I can up my game and add more healthy habits to certain areas of my morning and the rest of my day!

Dr. Dolittle: This was a free-read that my son and I read together last month. I was a big fan of the Dr. Dolittle musical with Rex Harrison when I was young, so I really was looking forward to reading the book. It was a delightful tale, as I expected. My son loves stories about animals, as well as adventures and fantasy, so this book fit the bill quite nicely.

Full: Food, Jesus and the Battle for Satisfaction: I amazed myself by actually completed two non-fiction (self-help, no less) books in one month! Granted, I had been working my way through them both for longer than that, but I am proud that I am improving in my ability to stick to this genre of book and finish! Asheritah Ciuciu did such an amazing job writing a book on such a challenging topic as food fixation, and her personal story makes everything she says so relatable. I think this book would be great for a small group or for accountability partners to go through together. It contains so many practical, Biblical ideas for changing the way we think about food and for pointing our attention back to Jesus.

White Fang: Yes, I actually finished the RIGHT book this time! And in the end, I am glad I read Call of the Wild first, and then this one so soon after. It gave me a chance to compare the stories of the two dogs who are the main characters. Jack London is such a great writer, and I found the way he crafted the two plots to work in opposite directions of each other truly fascinating. Again, I must warn more sensitive souls that these books contain some pretty hard to read descriptions of cruelty to dogs, both by men and other dogs. However, no matter how bad things look, there is redemption in the end.

Bark of the Bog Owl: The first book of the “Wilderking Trilogy”, Bark of the Bog Owl is a middle-grade fantasy novel that I think the whole family will enjoy. The story is a retelling of the life of the young King David, but set in a mythical world that resembles a medieval twist on the American southern landscape. (Sounds intriguing, no?!) My husband happens to work with the author of these books, Dr. Jonathon Rogers, and he was so kind to gift us with the whole set! I decided to pre-read this one to see if it would be a good family read aloud now or if we should wait a while. I am glad to report that we will definitely be adding it to our schedule sooner rather that later!

What I’m Reading Now:

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: I picked this one back up, this time in hard copy format, rather than the e-book I started out with. While I know this is an important book for me to read and understand, I can’t really say I’m enjoying reading about the buying and selling of humans.

Parenting Scripts: I’ve mentioned this new book by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake before, and I am looking forward to digging into it again (and finishing it this time)! The great thing is that I’ll be reading this in community this time because Amber and Wendy are hosting a book club on their private facebook page. I can hardly wait to create some better strategies and habits for dealing with parenting challenges!

Switch on Your Brain: I recently heard about the author of this book, Dr. Caroline Leaf, and listened to a couple of podcasts she did on the affects of social media on our brains. I was so excited and curious about her work, that I got my hands on the first book of hers I found. And I’m loving it so far! This one has so much Scripture and science woven in together, and she also includes a 21-Day Brain Detox at the end of the book, which sounds fascinating! I’ll definitely let you know what I learn.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea: I just started this today as my new audio book. It’s a little slow here at the beginning, but judging from my past experience with Jules Verne books, I think the action will pick up later on.

That’s a Wrap!

Kudos to you if you actually read this whole post! I realize I had a lot to say about all my books this month. I guess I’m making up for lost writing time, ha! But now it’s your turn to tell me what you are reading. Have you finished any new books lately?