March MAIDness Day 3: 15 Minutes Changed my Life

This entry is part 3 of 22 in the series March Maidness

How 15 minutes transform our chaotic home into a tidy space.  This simple rule and the routine which helps to maintain it.

This month I am sharing my routines which keep our household running. These are my tried-and-tested habits to which I always return. The ones that really work.

I am sharing them here with you because they are hard-fought. And I know the struggle to homemake and homeschool. The days run together and the house suffers. Sometimes all we need is a mentor to show us her solutions.

I am by no means perfect. But these routines have kept me from going insane with all the craziness our days bring us. These routines are simply my solutions to the chaos. They may not work for you. But I hope they spark some small inspiration to your own solutions for your home.

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So, Day 3 and still no maid-related cleaning posts. What gives?

Remember I said this series was more about routines than it is about cleaning? Day One I shared my essentials for keeping our house. Day Two I shared my simple (and yet life-changing) schedule for keeping house.

Today, I am sharing my very best rule for homekeeping.

15 Minutes to Tidy

You may remember one of my cleaning essentials is a timer.  I am a huge fan of the timer.  I can’t tell you how much the timer has changed my perspective on cleaning and on unexciting tasks in general. 

Go. Get. A. Timer. Today!

My favorite timers are the ones I can tell Google to set – on my phone or on my Google Assistant. But we also really like the Mooas brand of timers.

Ok, but that is not my best advice.

Ready for the Rule that changed my life?

Never Go Beyond

My life-changing rule for my home – the one I come back to again and again. The one that I notice most when it is broken. This is it:

Never go beyond “15 minutes tidy.”

Yep. That’s it.

{Did I just feel the earth quake?}

This simple rule may seem a bit too simple. But let me explain it a bit.

How Do you Know When you have gone Beyond?

Because I use a timer so diligently, I have discovered just what I can get done in 15 minutes.  And let me tell you, it is MUCH more than you might think. 

Years of this practice have tuned my senses to the precise moment when it is about to go “beyond.” I get all flustered in my tummy and there is an actual physical reaction to the mess. I can glance around a room filled with four kids playing among twelve different messes and play “Name that Tune” estimating how long it will take for it to get back to normal. It’s a gift!

My kids, not similarly gifted in my “beyond” sensibilities tend to dash right across that invisible line. They simply don’t see it.

Since they don’t see it, I have to help them to see the messes and clean as they go. When it starts to cross the line, I announce (very sweetly),


Maintenance Cleaning vs. Actual Cleaning

Obviously, this is more of a maintenance cleaning routine. This is simply for tidyness, not intensive cleaning.

The way to make it work even if we are beyond 15 minutes is to multiply by 4.

Let me explain my math.

Say I went upstairs to take my bi-weekly shower, leaving my kids to play downstairs. It took me 20 minutes to get ready. When I came downstairs, there were messes in the entryway, the living room, the playroom, the kitchen, the dining room, and the laundry room. That internal alarm I have was triggered the moment I stepped on the bottom step.

The solution to this “beyond” mess is multiplication.

We hit the brakes. Then I announce the timer and give areas for each kid to clean. If I am feeling extra generous, I will throw on some music for motivation. I set the timer and we are off. Since I have four kids, each works for 15 minutes on his/her specific task.

Usually we are done with the beyond 15 mess in just 15 minutes. We just got 60 minutes worth of cleaning finished in 15!

The proverb “Many hands make light work” proves true.

As I mentioned, this rule does not govern true cleaning. It is simply for tidiness. And you might be wondering why I didn’t multiply by 5 if I am helping with the tidy project. Well, I am accounting for some kids not staying on task the entire time. Ha!

Beyond Tidy

Let’s keep this math thing going. If I have 4 kids and want to maintain not just some semblance of a tidy house every day but actual cleaning, there’s some more multiplication.

Each week day, three times a day, I set the timer for 15 minutes with my kids and we all get moving.  This is how we maintain distance from the “beyond tidy” zone.

My kids have chores they can complete in the first 15 minutes of the day. Then in the middle of the day we can do the above described tidy session. At the end of the day, we do a final 15 minutes before bed. This is usually another “tidy” session.

My domain is almost always the kitchen. Somehow, I can always find some way to fill 15 minutes with cleaning in the kitchen. Even three times a day.

Now instead of 45 minutes of cleaning accomplished each day, I have 3 hours of cleaning time!! (Again, I account for some time off task for each of my kids.)

This practice is truly life-changing! And I kind of feel like a superhero with the ability to manipulate time! I can squeeze 3 hours of cleaning into 45 minutes! Woohoo!

Can you tell why I stand by this routine as my best advice for homekeeping? Let me hear your best advice or your best routine for homekeeping. Leave a comment below or in the Facebook group.

How 15 minutes transform our chaotic home into a tidy space.  This simple rule and the routine which helps to maintain it.

Series Navigation<< March MAIDness: Day 2 – A Routine Schedule for HomekeepingMarch Maidness: Day 4 – Evening Routines for Homemaking with Little Ones >>

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