If you have kids, a messy house is just a fact of life. But of course, you don’t really want to receive your in-laws when your home looks like burglars broke in. So, what to do if they phone to tell you they’re in the neighborhood and will drop by in 5 minutes to see their grandchildren? Don’t fret! If you follow my tips, all you’ll really have to do is throw all those toys in a container so your suegra doesn’t trip over them. Everything else will look clean.

You really don’t have to spend hours cleaning the house if you are efficient about it. I’ve found that to keep the home tidy effortlessly, it’s best to start with a clean slate. This is why most of us do our spring cleaning every year. Then we just have to take care of the upkeep, which should only take 20 minutes once or twice a week, depending on the size of your home.

Designate a specific place to store each item. This is a real time saver. If you know exactly where something goes, you won’t just stack it on the kitchen counter or tuck it into a drawer. The junk drawer is a surefire path to domestic chaos. Tackle tasks as they come. As soon as you get mail, file it, toss it or pay the bill.

Keep bathroom-cleaning products where you will use them—out of the kids’ reach of course. Store a squeegee in the shower so you can wipe down the glass shower doors every time you are done showering.

Read related: Teaching Boys to Cook and Clean

Choose your cleaning products carefully. Use multipurpose cleaning productsStay away from those that promise effortless cleaning without scrubbing or mopping; trust me, they don’t work except on TV commercials!


  • Multipurpose cleaner—for bathrooms, kitchen and floors
  • Glass cleaner—for bathroom fixtures and metal/chrome fixtures
  • Furniture polish
  • Dust rag
  • Mop and bucket
  • Paper towels or newspapers (for windows)
  • 2 scrub sponges
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Squeegee

Bathrooms (5 minutes): Tackle bathrooms first. Start with the tub/shower, then the toilet and sink. Tackle the mirrors next and save the floors for last.
Kitchen (5 minutes): Wipe down the counter tops, sink and table.
Floors (5 minutes): If you have carpeted floors, run the vacuum cleaner in every room and you’re done. If you have any other type of floor you will have to vacuum and then mop. Place two rags under your feet so you can dry as you mop.
Furniture (5 minutes): Dust the furniture last, as vacuuming stirs up dust that soon settles on flat surfaces.

• Delegate! Instruct family members to be responsible for their own rooms if they are old enough. Give your kids age-appropriate chores.
• Have everyone who is old enough use the squeegee when they are done in the shower.
• Use comforters on the beds (instead of quilts) so they are easier to make in the morning. When the beds are made, the house looks better.
• A sparkling mirror makes the bathroom look clean. Wipe away toothpaste stains before they settle.
• Clean only the windows or glass doors where your kids leave fingerprints and don’t bother about the rest.

Aside from hiring a cleaning service, which not all of us can afford, this is the best way to be on top of the game so you can devote more time and energy to your children and to pamper yourself in your free time. And when your suegra drops by unexpectedly, you can receive her without a care.

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