When you have small kids at home, your house can easily turn into a disaster zone in less than 10 minutes. Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to thoroughly clean the house, but I’ve found a deep clean isn’t always necessary for maintaining my sanity. So I compiled a printable list of 20 ideas for two minute housekeeping tasks.
When I was morning sick with our third child and our six-year old and three-year old were home from school for the summer, I really struggled to get anything done. Not only was I exhausted and nauseous, but my kids were always around. It was tough to keep the house clean. And truthfully, it wasn’t clean.
But I did manage to keep my house from imploding by doing a few small tasks a day. I discovered I could end housework overwhelm with two minute housekeeping tasks.
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Housekeeping Tasks for Busy Moms
When the house is a total disaster, it’s normal to think you need to spend a whole Saturday morning cleaning it up. But who wants to do that? You probably have a thousand other things you want to do with your weekends.
In reality, you probably can get more done in a few moments than you believe. Sometimes we trick ourselves into thinking that it will take hours to empty the dishwasher. When I timed myself recently, it took me less than five minutes. Similarly, for a long time, I’d procrastinate on making the bed. Then I watched my bedroom clock one day: it took less than a minute.
This doesn’t just apply to regular housekeeping. It can apply to bigger projects like cleaning out the garage or decluttering the children’s outgrown clothes. Often we can use small pockets of time to accomplish big things.
In short: we overestimate how long simple tasks take and we underestimate what can be accomplished in two minutes. This misconception leads to a lot of unnecessary overwhelm and needless procrastination.
I’ve found that by keeping a list of things to do around the house in short amounts of time, I am more likely to use my time well. Instead of grabbing my phone, I can quickly accomplish a task and check it off my list.
I’ve divided the lists of 20 housekeeping tasks into the different areas of your home.
Laundry: Two Minute Housekeeping Tasks
Laundry is such a relentless task in families with children. I can hear you saying. “YESSSS!”
Until your children are old enough to do their own, little chunks of time can help keep your laundry under control.
I wash each person’s laundry separately, so when it comes out of the dryer, it’s already sorted by person. (I don’t buy my children white shirts anymore!) I end up bring that clean laundry in a basket into our family room.
Then I fish out and quickly match the socks and ask my children to put their socks away in a basket in our coat closet. Sock matching is also a great chore for kids.
2. Fold five items of laundry
When the laundry is in the family room, I’ll sort out five t-shirts or pairs of pants or pjs and quickly fold and put them away. This helps the laundry from getting overwhelming and makes it more likely it will be put away promptly.
My six-year old can now independently put a stack of laundry away in her room, too. She’s less likely to drop a small stack so this two minute task is effective on many levels.
3. Treat several laundry stains
We keep a shallow dish pan in our laundry room for clothes we know are stained. Usually I’ll put potty accident clothes sent home from preschool directly in the washing machine, but if I’m in the middle of a load or distracted by the children, the dishpan is a fantastic holding place.
4. Switch out the hand towels in the bathrooms and kitchen
Hand towels can harbor so many germs. It’s important to our family not to use too many paper towels both for cost and for the environment. So we change out the bathroom and kitchen hand towels daily and I wash them in the load of towels once a week.
I use Days of the Week kitchen dish towels and it helps me keep on top of switching them out.
Paperwork: Two Minute Housekeeping Tasks
After laundry, paperwork can be the hardest things for families with children to manage. Besides the typical mail, you end up with tons of school papers. The best strategy is to deal with it immediately but let’s be honest: sometimes paperwork builds up. There’s a rush to the potty when you get home from errands or an outing. After school the children need a snack right away.
So here’s a few tasks you can accomplish in two minutes when you’re facing a mountain of paperwork.
5. File or throw away receipts
If you don’t need to file your receipts, take two minutes to clean out your wallet, purse, or diaper bag, and throw them away or shred the ones with personal information. We save our receipts to enter into our budget tracker.
Sometimes I accumulate a stack on my desk or in my wallet and in two minutes I can get a lot of them filed in an expanding receipt holder.
6. Shred a stack of papers
When you come across paperwork with personal information, gather a stack and take two minutes to shredder. We like our Royal shredder for its large capacity. It rarely jams and is easy to empty and thus, it saves time.
7. Sort through your kids’ artwork or schoolwork
The ten Paw Patrol coloring pages are probably not masterpieces worthy of being saved. Same with the math worksheets or printing practice pages. Gather a small stack to recycle in two minutes.
8. Recycle junk mail
Sort through your pile of mail. Gather up the junk mail that accumulates and then recycle it.
Kitchen: Two Minute Housekeeping Tasks
The kitchen is the heart of the home. If it remains somewhat neat, the rest of the house miraculously is easier to maintain, too.
You can get a lot of items loaded into the dishwasher in two minutes. We have a really deep sink and I can still load everything in two minutes.
10. Wipe out the sink
The gunk in the kitchen sink gets so hard to scrub out once it’s dried on and can get smelly. So wipe it out with a paper towel. Or use yesterday’s day of the week hand towel and then replace it with the current day’s towel. When my sink feels somewhat clean, I feel tons better about my home.
11. Clear out the fridge for spoiled food
In one minute, you can inventory your fridge quickly, toss out any spoiled food, and make note of leftovers or produce that needs to be used that day before it goes bad. In the 2nd minute, you can load the dishwasher with the dirty containers from the fridge.
12. Wipe down one appliance
A damp cloth with a drop of dish soap can get one appliance reasonably clean pretty quickly. It might not be perfect, but it will get the worst gunk off.
13. Wipe down the dining table
Inevitably the dining table gets covered with sticky goo and crumbs. In two minutes you can get the worst of it wiped off.
14. Wipe out your microwave
To clean the microwave, place a bowl of water inside and heat for a minute or two while you’re doing something else. This will loosen all the gunk that has dried on. Allow the bowl to cool with the door closed for a few more minutes. Then wipe off all of the loosen gunk in less than two minutes.
Some people add a bit of lemon juice or vinegar, but I’ve found the steam is really the most important part. Be sure not to burn yourself!
15. Straighten a kitchen drawer
In two minutes, you can sort out any obvious trash – warped plastic plates? Toss them. Lids without a container? Time to recycle those. Fifteen soy sauce packets? You don’t need those. Then place items that have been put in the wrong drawer back in their correct spots.
Cleaning: Two Minute Housekeeping Tasks
Sure you can’t vacuum your whole house or even a whole room in two minutes, but there are little tasks that can help keep the mess under control.
16. Clean hand prints off a window
I don’t know about your house, but we constantly have enthusiastic children watching out the front windows for daddy to come home from work. They also peering through our sliding door to watch squirrels in the backyard. That means we always have hand prints.
I keep Windex and microfiber cloths in the laundry room where I can quickly grab them and wipe those hand prints. Windows is also a great chore to do with a kid you trust won’t spray the cleanser in their eyes or mouth.
17. Clean a mirror
If you have children, you probably have enthusiastic tooth brushers. You have splatters on the bathroom mirrors. We keep Windex and a cloth under a childproof sink cupboard so we can quickly clean those splatters. As mentioned above, my six-year old can do this chore with supervision while I clean something else in the bathroom.
18. Pick up some clutter
You know you need to teach your children to pick up their own toys. But when the mess is really driving you crazy, take two minutes and put away a dozen toys.
A cube shelf offers really convenient storage for children’s toys with all the little pieces.
Or round up a few other items of clutter and put them back in their proper homes. Things like shoes, socks, hairbrushes, remotes, glasses, and books have a way of showing up all over the house. While we work on devveloping better habits with the children, spending two minutes makes me feel a lot less overwhelmed.
19. Wipe down the doorknobs and light switches in one room
This is a must-do during cold and flu season or anytime there is a stomach virus in your family.
Grab a container of Lysol or Clorox wipes and wipe down the handles and light switches in just one room. I get this 3-pack on Subscribe & Save.
20. Take out the trash
You can take out the kitchen trash and replace the bag in two minutes. Or gather the trash from a bathroom or your laundry room. It makes the whole room look better when there isn’t an overflowing pile of trash.
Keep a few spare garbage bags at the bottom of the trash can so as soon as you pull out one bag, you can immediately replace it.
No More Housework Overwhelm
Here’s a recap for all my busy parent readers:
- It’s easy to get overwhelmed by housework when you have children.
- People seem to underestimate how much they can get done in two minutes.
- Similarly, we overestimate how long simple tasks can take.
- This can lead to more overwhelm and procrastination.
- Having the right products in the right places can streamline cleaning.
- Tidying up through small tasks can give us a better sense of calm and control in our house.
Everyone’s home and stage of life is different so I included a blank printable for you to use as well. Print out this list and regain some control of your house. With two minute housekeeping tasks, you can reduce your housework overwhelm and find time for what you really love.