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In June of this year I started working from home full-time (for my career, not the blog). I moved out of state, started working remote, and suddenly found myself struggling to balance work life and home life. Homemaking shifted to the top of my list of priorities because I now spend almost all of my time at home. It’s been hard to build a routine that allows me to manage my time effectively. At times it was overwhelming to walk out of home office for my lunch break and see dirty dishes in the sink, dog hair on the floor, and laundry in the baskets. The homemaker part of me wanted to run a sink hot water and bust out my Shark Rocket for a quick vacuum. The employee side of me knew I didn’t have time and it would have to wait.
I’ve worked out a routine now but it’s hard to feel like you’re able to balance everything and check off everything on your to-do list. I want my home to be a sanctuary away from the stresses of work and bills but that’s hard when my work is literally sitting on a desk in the other room. What I needed was to learn that homemaking doesn’t mean perfection. I needed organization, structure, and a system but none of that had to be perfect. Today, I hope to encourage you in understanding that same thing and to share the tips that have helped me finally find my way to stress-free homemaking.
10 Tips for Stress-Free Homemaking
- Tidy Yourself First – Wake up early and take care of the essentials to make yourself feel fabulous. Take a hot shower, dress in real clothes, style your hair, and apply your make-up. Not only will it put you in a productive mind-set but you’ll feel more confident throughout your day. It also helps reduce the worry over unexpected visitors, sudden errands, or emergencies that require you to leave the home. You’ll be prepared, no matter what the day throws at you.
- Make Your Bed – This little chore takes 5 minutes and instantly makes your room feel clean and put together. Whenever I walk by an open door and spot an unmade bed, I feel a sense of clutter and noise. If there is a well-made bed, I can often overlook other clutter because it doesn’t seem as overwhelming. Every Monday I strip the sheets and throw them in the washer before I make the bed. That way, the sheets are washing while I’m in the office and I can make the bed back up quickly on my lunch break or after work.
- Quick Pick-Ups are Good Enough – When I don’t have time to do a full cleaning during the day, I take advantage of moments for quick tidying. I’ll toss toys back into their baskets, fluff pillows on the sofa, collect dirty cups and put them in the sink, wipe down a countertop, or toss laundry into laundry totes. None of those tasks takes more than a minute or two but it helps the home look put together. It’s ok to accept that progress is good and things don’t have to be perfect.
- Create a Cleaning Schedule – It’s overwhelming to approach home chores without a plan. There are a million things to do – mirrors to clean, windows to wash, countertops to wipe, floors to mop, toilets and baths to scrub, dishes to clean, laundry to do, carpets to vacuum, sheets to change, and so on. Creating a cleaning schedule allows you to focus on assigned tasks without being overwhelmed by the other to-dos. It also helps if you purchase tools that can handle multiple tasks, like the Shark Rocket with DuoClean. That vacuum is a god-send. It can go from carpets to wood or tile floors with the flip of a switch, has adapters for dusting, furniture, and stairs, and is insanely easy to empty. I use it pretty much every day.
- Wash Laundry Every Day – Every morning before I head into the office I put a load of laundry into the washer. On Monday I wash sheets before making the bed but other days it may be towels, pet towels (washed separately from ours), blankets, or clothes. If I put the laundry in first thing in the morning then I’m able to flip it to the dryer during a quick morning break then fold it and put it away during lunch. By noon each day the laundry is finished and it never has the chance to pile up and feel insurmountable. To make it even easier, I have this triple hamper which makes sorting a breeze and I use Tide pods so I don’t have to spend time measuring detergent.
- Stick to a Meal Plan – I wrote all about about my meal planning system here and shared how I’m able to meal plan an entire month in about 10 minutes. It makes it so simple to find dishes everyone loves, bookmark favorites, and print a shopping list. 10 minutes…DONE. I’m also not above using meal delivery services (I love Sun Basket and shared that experience here). They were fabulous and I highly, highly recommend them. If I’m feeling creative or know that I have a quiet few weeks ahead I’ll sort through my favorite cookbooks and meal plan the old-fashioned way. No matter how you do it, it’s just important that you do it. It’ll save you time, money, and stress. You’ll avoid wasting food and never have to feel anxious over that potentially dreaded, “What’s for dinner?” question. If you keep it seasonal and learn to love your slow cooker, you’ll find it’s easy to find affordable, easy, and delicious meal options.
- Learn to Sew – If you don’t already know how to sew it’s a skill you should learn asap. You don’t have to become an expert seamstress but you should know how to attach a button, fix a zipper, patch a hole, and hem a pair of pants. These are basic skills that go a long way in avoiding stress and keeping a tidy home. You’ll save money on minor clothing repairs and never feel overwhelmed by a last-minute or sudden wardrobe malfunction. I recommend keeping a travel sewing kit in your purse at all times for just such an emergency. You never know when a wayward button might try to disrupt your carefully made plans.
- Run the Dishwasher Overnight – If your dishwasher has a delay timer (and isn’t that an amazing feature?) set it for a few hours after you clean up from dinner. That usually means it will kick on overnight so you’ll wake up to clean dishes. If you don’t have a delay timer, start it right as you’re going to bed. In the morning, you’ll wake up to an empty sink and clean dishes so making breakfast is a breeze. I’ll empty the dishwasher as breakfast is cooking then, after breakfast, I’ll load the dirty dishes and run the machine again if it’s full. Repeat the process at dinnertime and you’ll avoid a pile up of dirty dishes in the kitchen.
- Keep a Supply of Essentials – I don’t even want to admit to how many rolls of paper towels and toilet paper are in our home. Those are just things I always seem to buy when I’m at the store, especially if I have a coupon or I catch them on sale. You can avoid stress in the home by keeping a supply of the essentials such as paper towels, napkins, cleaning supplies, disinfectant spray, dust rags, etc. During this past year I started using Amazon Prime and it’s been the greatest thing ever. Not only can I buy in bulk but it’s delivered right to my door and it’s almost always within 24 – 48 hours. I’m basically on a first-name basis with our delivery man right now.
- Check your Attitude – If you find yourself feeling annoyed and frustrated by your home responsibilities, take a minute to stop, count your blessings, and focus on thankfulness. One of my favorite little homemaking poems is:
Thank God for dirty dishes / They have a tale to tell / While other folks go hungry, we are eating very well. / With home and hearth and happiness, we shouldn’t want to fuss, / For by this stack of evidence, God is very good to us.
There are blessings to be found in every chore, every obligation, every item on the to-do list, and the easiest way to eliminate stress is to find the blessing hidden within it.
Any other homemaking tips or hacks to share? Tweet me at @ashleyfromhp or drop them in the comments below.