6 Lazy Ways to Reduce Housework

by Ivory Soap


TL and I spend very little time doing housework.  So, how do we get away with that?

1.  We have LITTLE HOUSES–less house means less to clean.  I can whip around this sucker in half and hour and have it sparkle.

2.  We don’t buy stuff–less stuff means less stuff to clean.  The vast majority of time spent on a home is UPKEEP.  If you don’t own five TV’s you don’t have to clean them, fix them, or police the peanut butter fingers.  If you don’t have 127 ceramic pigs, you don’t have to dust them, adjust them, or guard them from toddlers.  If your kids only have enough toys to fit in a couple of baskets, then you don’t spend all your time picking up (or  forcing them to pick up) 4 billion toys. And if we already have too much stuff, we donate, donate, donate!

3.  We use our OLD stuff. Think about the difference in attention and upkeep between a new BMW and a ten year old Camry.  Or a new flat screen TV versus TL’s hundred year old TV that uses q-tip sticks instead of buttons.  New things require more attention “to keep them looking like new.”  Old things require enough upkeep to keep them functioning.  Big difference.

4.  We have lower expectations. Our houses aren’t museums.  The kitchen and bathrooms get some special regular attention, but everything else is on a ‘squeaky wheel’ schedule.  We never “clean the clean.”

5.  We take short cuts. When my broom needs cleaning, I go scrub the shower with it.  Between mops, we shuffle around a smudgy kitchen floor on a damp towel.   A dustbuster long ago replaced the dust pan for after sweeping clean-up.  But I have to share my FAVORITE short cut:  A few years ago, my mom made each of my kids a sleeping bag (Lighting McQueen, Thomas, and Strawberry Shortcake).  My kids insist on sleeping in the EVERY NIGHT–right on top of their perfectly made beds. HA!  If they migrate around the house at night, the sleeping bag goes with them.  If they come in our room, they sleep on the floor in it.  If they end up on the couch, same thing.  No blankets strewn everywhere, stripped beds, or sheets to change…ever.  One thing to wash, beds always neat.  Isn’t that a SCREAM?

6. We share the load. The same number of hours have passed for both parents, so when hubby gets home, we work together.  “I’ll give you a million dollars to put the kids to bed.”  “Only if you help me fold and put away the laundry.”  “Done.”  Also, I’m in a babysitting co-op and a meal swap.  Some of my other friends are in a house-cleaning swap.   When I had postpartum depression, we canceled the cable and hired a lady to come scrub bathrooms and floors twice a month.  And TL and I both have family around that willingly help out.  And we let them, whether we think they mean it personally or not.

Reduce the load, then share it!


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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Stefani M. September 11, 2009 at 7:51 am

Excellent advice!

Jenn @ Beautiful Calling September 11, 2009 at 9:34 am

Great ideas! I too use a dust buster in the kitchen. It’s mounted on the wall behind the highchair and I think it is one of my most used kitchen items!!
I’m working on the less stuff and when the market improves, I hope to have a smaller house!!!
Thanks for sharing!

Gloria Carrington-Ferrira September 11, 2009 at 9:56 am

Love it!!! You have everything down pat. I spend far too much time moving dust and really, I need to display less so there’s less to clean. I think you’ve revolutionised my life!!!

I’m new to blogging so hope you’ll come over and have a look at my blog. Hopefully, you’ll find something there you’ll like!! I’m certainly going to follow you ‘cos I think you’re fun!!!

Rose September 11, 2009 at 11:43 am

Love the ideas! Thanks for sharing them.

Linda September 11, 2009 at 11:56 am

I have a little house! I agree with you on everything!


Carla September 11, 2009 at 12:14 pm

I used to be the “cleaning lady” for a while. I cleaned a humongous, humongous house for a retired couple. This poor woman was thrilled with her big new house but I personally think part of the reason she looked so exhausted all the time is that she was NEVER done cleaning it. On the other hand my husband’s Uncle Jay retired and bought a teeny little frame house on a small lot specifically so that he didn’t have too much to care for. Guess which one I had rather be like?

Frugal Kiwi September 11, 2009 at 12:21 pm

One of the advantages of having less stuff is that you need less room to keep it in. The house we live in now is small enough that I can basically vacuum the whole thing without changing power points. I hate vacuuming, so anything that means I take less time doing it is a bonus!

Pippa September 11, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Going to go and look up home made sleeping bag patterns…

Brooke September 11, 2009 at 3:57 pm

Love it! I, too, shuffle around the kitchen with a damp towel. My husband laughs at me because I actually took a ratty old towel and folded and stitched flaps down at two of the corners for my feet to fit into to make it even EASIER (if that’s possible) to do the mop-shuffle. Thanks for sharing your great tips!

Laurie September 11, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Excellent Ideas! I also have a small house and work hard not to clutter it.. the rule is that when we get something new, something else goes!

missourimom62 September 11, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Mirabile dictu, someone acknowledged postpartum depression AND – between the lines – a spouse who pitched in during a really rough time. Maybe there is hope.

Karen September 11, 2009 at 7:48 pm

I rationalize living in a small three bedroom house with “I have no time to clean a big house anyway” or whenever I see McMansions, I’d say to my hubby, “I wouldn’t want to clean that monster!”

Jennifer September 11, 2009 at 8:27 pm

My husband forwarded your blog to me a few days ago (because I keep talking about getting chickens for our intown backyard). I just wanted to say that I love your writing- it’s fun and real. And real fun. Keep up the good work! I’ll be hanging around.

Sarah September 11, 2009 at 9:16 pm

How did you start up the baby sitting co op? I am really interested in this, I keep wishing for it but my friends all seem to have close by parents they rely on and I don’t know how to ask them to watch my kids since they don’t seem interested in redeeming! Also, MAINLY, the mess that my house is, keeps me from offering up my services 1st. It is garage sale time for sure!

Tanya Walton September 12, 2009 at 1:14 am

Not sure I could go for all of your ideas…but some of them I can deal with…I think my kids would die if I ditched there tv’s but hey they can keep them as long as they all pull there own weight with a share of the load now they are growing up!!!!

Never have done clutter and everything has it’s place in a cupboard/drawer…I never have understood these people who clutter kitchen and bathroom sides with nick-knacks that have no use…..PUT STUFF IN A CUPBOARD…..at least that way once you’ve cleaned it it stays clean!!!!

Tanya Walton September 12, 2009 at 4:53 am

Not sure I could go for all of your ideas…but some of them I can deal with…I think my kids would die if I ditched there tv’s but hey they can keep them as long as they all pull there own weight with a share of the load now they are growing up!!!!

Never have done clutter and everything has it’s place in a cupboard/drawer…I never have understood these people who clutter kitchen and bathroom sides with nick-knacks that have no use…..PUT STUFF IN A CUPBOARD…..at least that way once you’ve cleaned it it stays clean!!!!
BTW I love your blog!

katie September 12, 2009 at 6:19 am

Like the dustbuster-as-dustpan idea. When we lived in a two bedroom apartment we had a little kitchen and bathroom. I’d sweep all the dust and dirt onto the carpet outside the door and suck it up with the vacuum cleaner. Thinking I might towel-mop the kitchen floor today. One thing I found makes my cleaning routine easier is having only one floor. We’re Army, so we move often. At one point we were living in a heavily modified 70s era ranch house with 6 (!) bedrooms (the rent was excellent). That was easier to clean than our current 3 bedroom (two floor) house. I have three little ones, who aren’t all that stellar with stairs, so finding time to really clean the upstairs without them “helping” is tough. My husband is very helpful with them at night, but I’d rather spend time with him than upstairs scrubbing bathrooms. Oh well.

5 orange potatoes September 12, 2009 at 7:30 am

Oh my gosh, love how you clean your broom! Brilliant! The sleeping bag on top of the blankest is too cute. I love these tips!

Lisa 🙂

Cori September 12, 2009 at 6:17 pm

I love the Q-tip TV buttons =) New stuff is too stressful!

bigjobsboard dot com September 14, 2009 at 12:25 am

Wow! so lazy!!! But I guess its somehow practical mean of living. I am also a housewife and mostly I do all the chores at home. My husband has no time for helping me. I wish we were like you and your husband…Thanks for the tip…

Becky September 14, 2009 at 8:49 am

Having a dog is great for kitchen spills, too! 😉

Kimberly September 14, 2009 at 6:08 pm

@Becky LOL! Oh good, so I’m not the only one that does that. My (tiny) kitchen floor is spotless because of our dogs- they are so helpful. 😀

As for the Mop Shuffle, thats sounds familiar! My aprtment has maybe 60 square feet of linoleum in it all together, so a mop is more of a hindrance than a help. Scooching rags across the floor is much easier. lol.

Mandy January 7, 2010 at 10:29 pm

Just found your blog today, this is great. Re: point #1….I WANT a small house in the worst way. But where the heck do you find one without building it yourself??? My husband and I just got done with a ONE YEAR house search after relocating for his job. With three small children including a baby, we couldn’t take on a project house. Anything that was move-in-ready was big. The less expensive newish houses were just lower quality or less fancy, but not much smaller if at all. I see these adorable small houses in magazines and I want one. I spend way too much time cleaning and its still never done and usually messy.

Ivory Soap January 13, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Look in OLDER neighborhoods. Ours is 1990. Our first one (700 feet) was 1940.

Lori January 31, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I just found your blog today and I’m hooked!!! Your ideas are fabulous!

My husband and I drastically downsized last October and moved from a 4 bedroom, 5 level backsplit in a subdivision to a small 2 bedroom house on a nice lot in a rural area. Our home now is mostly on 1 level – just the master bedroom and bath on the upper loft. And I absolutely love it!!! This is heaven!!! I have MS and not having to deal with stairs all the time makes a huge difference in my health. Where I am sitting now, in the living room, I can see every other room on this level, and yet it doesn’t feel cramped. When we moved, I took 8 loads of “stuff” in my Jimmy to Goodwill. Being a bit of a pack-rat all my life, I was determined to simplify and get rid of anything we didn’t need. I did a major purge and it felt so good!

As things we need wear out and have to be replaced, we buy them from auctions and antique malls. It is usually cheaper than buying the same item with less quality, in a store, and older items have so much more character than the “crap” you buy now. And we are recycling at the same time!

Glad I found your blog – I look forward to reading more!

Mandy March 2, 2010 at 6:22 pm

700 sq ft wow, was that before kids? how many kids do you have now and how big is your house? I have 3 kids and would love to find around 1500 sq ft. We have way too much now – ugh – hate it.

sunshine kisses June 8, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Just trying to teach my ‘product of this generation’ teenager these life lessons too: ‘stuff equals stress’ and ‘make do with what you have’. The ones coming up should be called ‘the materialistic instant gratification generation’.

mom-and-rn October 6, 2010 at 8:56 pm

I agree with the big house thing. I moved (again) from a 3 full story house! Single mom 4 kids (3 teenage boy’s) and 3 dogs. That house had 4 bathrooms! Who needs 4 bathrooms. Not only was the house never clean, I never saw my kids! In a smaller home now and love it. Except, I have to move again. I may go even smaller!

mom-and-rn October 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Giving up TV was not fun. We have 4 TV’s and when the “change” to High def occure I had misplaced my coupon and could not afford the 40.00 “box” thing. (RN not working due to type 1 diabetes diag.) Anyway, kids said “if we get TV all we do is veg and watch it” STRANGE I know but true. So now we live with netflix via wii, 1 computer that got a virus so have to use it on “safe mode with internet” basically get all of the web sites without sound. Ever watched Glee on closed caption? So now the kiddies watch a TV show on the internet but, have to read the closed captions. Started thinking.. Wow they have to speed read and see video. Hmmm multi-task while reading? That actually sounds educational . I know this is truly crazy but working very well!!!

Down2Earth December 2, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Thanks for such an honest and practical post! Being a homeschooling mom myself, I appreciate all the pointers you shared here and will definitely implement them.

Michelle April 4, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Hi there,
Just found your site through Pintrest. I am a very particular person when it comes to my house. Yes, my cans all face the same way and are organized by type. I used to be the same way about laundry. While I still hang almost all of our clothes up and have them all organized in closets I was able to save myself some grief by letting go of perfectly folding items that no one really sees.

I stopped folding certain items completely. I have large bins in my linen closet for towels and a small laundry basket for washclothes. My kids can sort the towels and put them in the bins. I also have drawers designated for underwear and pajamas. Those items are just put in the designated drawer. So simple, my 5 year old can do it!

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