The Case for Once a Month Cleaning

The case for once a month cleaning
Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom

This post is part one in a three part series about cleaning. You can find the second post here and the third here!

Late last year, I thought I had it made when I booked a local company to clean my house once a month.

Any homeschooling parent knows that a home needs more than monthly care, but I figured they would do the deep cleaning, and I could keep up with the rest. It sounded like a dream come true for this work-at-home mom.

But it didn’t turn out that way. The cleaning company were used to customers who worked outside of the home. Not a problem, I thought. The kids and I will just go out for a few hours, and return to a tidy house. But when the cleaners failed to show up on time, after I’d worked hard to get the kids ready, it started to frustrate me. And when they didn’t clean the way I wanted or return my emails, I decided to move on.

Then one day I had an epiphany. If the cleaners could deep clean my whole house once a month, why couldn’t I?

Turns out I can, and I’ve been doing so for the past three months.

Here’s how it works.

I searched online for a traditional cleaning checklist (Here’s an example) and created my own based on our home and what needs to be done every four weeks.

I only clean and care for the kids on monthly cleaning days–no formal homeschooling, writing, laundry, or cooking.

The focus for the rest of the month becomes keeping the house tidy and doing any essentials–wiping the bathroom or vacuuming the floor. It’s amazing how a tidy, uncluttered house can fool people into thinking it’s clean.

Hand-written? Yep, ’cause I’m high-tech like that.

Here are the benefits I’ve found in once-a-month cleaning.

1. It isn’t always on my mind.

By cleaning every four weeks, I’m only deep cleaning my house 13 times a year–hooray for that!

As a result, I’m not constantly thinking about when to fit in cleaning or how dirty something is. My calendar lets me know exactly when the house will be clean again. Nothing hangs “undone” over my head.

2. It reflects our family’s values and helps me combat perfectionism.

I honestly don’t want to be remembered for having an immaculate house. Changing the lives of children, loving my family–these are the reasons I get up each morning. But I don’t want to live in a pigsty either. Once a month cleaning feels like the right balance.

It also helps me combat perfectionism–by working this way I’m declaring that ‘this level of cleanliness is enough.’ I’m not striving for something that isn’t really important to me anyway.

3. I’m cleaning when it really needs to be done.

In the past, when I cleaned on a weekly basis, my rotation list would occasionally tell me to clean something that didn’t look dirty. I found it hard to get motivated.

But every four weeks I can easily see that the floor needs mopping, the tub needs scrubbing, and the bookshelves need dusting. This was especially noticeable last week after our vacuum died. Many thanks to those of you on Facebook who chimed in with recommendations for a new one! (If you’re curious, we ended up with this Hoover–so far, so good.)

4. The house shines and sparkles–for at least 24 hours.

My favorite part of having a cleaner? Returning to a house that sparkled and smelled clean.

Now, even though I’m doing the work myself, I still get that feeling. Even the microwave shines for a day!

5. It saves money and fits with our homeschooling lifestyle.

I hate having to abide by someone else’s schedule. I love that I can arrange my cleaning to fit with the rhythm of our days, without having to work around the timing of a cleaner.

Every four weeks on cleaning day, my husband brings takeout home for dinner. Even with this treat we save a considerable amount compared to what we paid for cleaning services. And there’s nothing like the reward of pad thai to keep me working through the afternoon slump!

If you haven’t yet discovered the right cleaning system, think it over and see if once a month cleaning might work for you.

Have you managed to find a cleaning system that works for your homeschooling family?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She is the co-founder and editor of Simple Homeschool, where she writes about mindful parenting, intentional education, and the joy found in a pile of books. Jamie is also the author of a handful of titles, including her newest release, Give Your Child the World.


  1. Love this, Jaime! Love the idea of not always having something hanging over your head (“I should be cleaning X…”) and also accepting a certain level of clean and letting the rest go. That said, my kids are still too young for me to be able to get all this done in one day! Maybe two though…
    Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings’s latest post: Shootin’ Hoops

  2. Love this idea! Though I had to laugh at this sentence: “I only clean and care for the kids on monthly cleaning days…” At first reading, it sounded like that was the only day you clean and care for your kids! =)
    My house is definitely not super clean. I would like it to be better, but I am realizing that for me, there are some things that are more important than having a very clean house. I think I might try this idea and see if it helps.

    • I thought the same thing and chuckled too. that would really cut down on the cleaning at our house 😉
      i’m working on the decluttering part of clean, I totally agree that an uncluttered house can fool people into thinking its clean. The opposite end is that a cluttered clean house never feels clean!

  3. Wow, Jamie- I think you just changed my life! I’m going to try it. I mean, formally try it. I guess the once-a-month thing has already kind of been happening, but more out of neglect than intention. Thanks!
    Tori Maurer’s latest post: Running Shoes

  4. This sounds like the answer I’ve been looking for! Thanks for sharing. Like you, I have certain things that I keep up with on a daily/weekly basis, simply because they’re areas that get insanely dirty if I don’t (bathrooms, vacuuming), but other things that I have on my weekly cleaning list don’t seem to NEED to be done every week (dusting!), so it’s hard to get motivated to do it when I look at my list and think “I JUST cleaned that!” Once a month cleaning would combat that problem, I would think, for me. I’m going to give it a try!
    Julia’s latest post: elijahs first haircut

  5. Love this too! How did you decide what day to do it on? Do you just pick a day about every 4 weeks?

    • Yes. My cleaners came every five weeks, but that was too long. So I just do it every four weeks, usually on Mondays b/c that seems to work best for us.

  6. Yay! Ilove that I can now put an official name on what I thought was just a lazy approach. I probably clean more like once every 3 weeks- but other than that- just vacuum and wipe down surfaces. It definitely fits with our life and I think this month I am going to have a devoted “cleaning day” like you suggest instead of trying to cram it in amongst everything else we do, or spreading it out over 2-3 days. Thanks!

  7. Hmmm, I might have to adopt this philosophy…
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  8. I like it! Combating perfectionism and getting clean, keeping the ‘shoulds’ off my mind!! I’m on board.
    Janet Costello’s latest post: Question 1

  9. Your monthly cleaning system paired with my major purge/daily maintenance purge (coming up soon!) is the perfect combo! I’ve done those “no school today” cleaning days before when company was coming, but I never thought about doing it on a scheduled, regular monthly basis. Thank you!
    Sarah at SmallWorld’s latest post: Caught-My-Eye Posts

  10. I’m going to give your idea a try.
    I have been following the Fly Lady’s emails but I haven’t been able to dive in yet b/c of my school, the kids, school, and life.

    • I “follow” flylady too. I guess this should be a no-brainer, but because of her influence, I dress myself & my child, make my bed and wear shoes, I have been doing this for over 2 years. I haven’t gotten into the daily cleaning aspects. I know the idea of cleaning for only 15 mins a day should really appeal to me. But I can’t seem to wrap my head or my not-so-busy-schedule around it. I may have to try the Intentional approach 🙂
      Jennifer’s latest post: A soy-free- vegan life

  11. This is quite refreshing. This may change my whole outlook on cleaning. I have been cleaning one room a day every week and I try to get that done in the morning before we start lessons. I think the only thing that would bug me would be the dust. How do you handle the dust during that four week time?
    Rana’s latest post: This Moment

    • If a surface is really dusty, I’ll wipe it with a rag. Otherwise it just waits until the official “cleaning day.” It seems to be only a few surfaces that get really dusty in between!

  12. Love this! Think I’ll give it a try!!
    Kristin S.’s latest post: Booking It &amp An Exciting Update About the Fall!!

  13. I really like this! I may have to try it when I’m off bedrest and see how it works for me. Thanks for the idea! 🙂
    Mariposa’s latest post: Chicken Marsala

  14. I remember our cleaning lady conversations a few months ago but didn’t realize how everything had unfolded for you. One of the things I love about the way you share advice is your own ability to flex as life hands you new phases or you think through better approaches.
    Caroline Starr Rose’s latest post: The Answers- Half Marathon- Ice Cream Cakes- and Curry

  15. Can I just say, “You rock!” I love this idea. I have thought about it before, but wondered if I could really swing it. I’m so glad to hear a real life experience. I want to go clean now.

    I, too, have wondered what it would be like to have cleaners come, so thanks for the reality check, too.

    Once a month cooking, once a month cleaning. What’s next? Once a month laundry? 😉
    Jessica’s latest post: 6 Good Things to Do with Your Kids for Easter

    • Thanks, Jessica! And yes, I’m glad that I tried the cleaners, so I don’t have the whole “grass is greener” thinking.

      Once a month laundry sounds scary, but who knows?!!

  16. Great post! We’ve been doing a Saturday morning blitz with the whole family pitching in for about 2 hours to get everything done, but as we’re heading into baseball season our free Saturdays will disappear, so we’ll need another solution. I won’t be teaching on Fridays once June gets here, so maybe 1 Friday a month will be coming “cleaning Friday.” 🙂
    Erin @ Mama in Progress’s latest post: Almost Four

  17. Great post! We’ve been doing a Saturday morning blitz with the whole family pitching in for about 2 hours to get everything done, but as we’re heading into baseball season our free Saturdays will disappear, so we’ll need another solution. I won’t be teaching on Fridays once June gets here, so maybe 1 Friday a month will become “cleaning Friday.” 🙂
    Erin @ Mama in Progress’s latest post: Almost Four

  18. my kids are responsible for lots of the day to day cleaning – like vacuuming.

    I dust when I notice, like onc

  19. oh my.. not sure what happened there.

    as I was saying I dust about once every 3 months. Wash floors maybe once a month, after supper one night. (my kids are older and aren’t regularly spilling food). Scrub the toilet every couple weeks and wash the tub/shower before having overnight guests or once a month.

    I’m fairly informal about the big cleaning jobs and they just happen when necessary. The house is kept tidy on a day to day basis by the kids and I. Takes maybe 1/2 hour.

    Cleaning with children living in your house seems nearly impossible sometimes because the house just gets dirty again, almost instantly. But I do value a tidy and clean home so I’ve trained the kids to do the basics and I fit the rest in wherever it works.

    I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you. I know pad thai would motivate me also (we eat out almost every weekend after hiking and often go for thai food and I tell you knowing those saucy noodles await me after my work out helps me get my butt in gear!)

    • Love your laidback approach, Renee – I think we start having more flexibility in this area as the kids get older.

      Do you get your pad thai with tofu and veggies? My fav!

      • Yep. Tofu and veggies – my fav.

        I agree. Everything like this gets easier as the kids get a bit older. All that work I did when they were younger teaching them to help me with stuff – it’s starting to pay off. Now if only one of my kids would show more initiative in the kitchen I’d be all set (ha, ha!).

  20. Everything in our house gets cleaned about once a month as well (except for an isolated few things that cleaned weekly or biweekly). My daughter isn’t at a point where she can handle me just cleaning all day long, so I set up a M-F four week cleaning schedule. I get a room done in one day (the eat-in kitchen gets two days as does the living because of all the bookcases). Our whole house requires mopping, so it gets its own day too. I have a day dedicated to outdoor/car catch-up. There’s a day each week for vacuuming the whole house (and I just sweep and wipe up spills as needed throughout the week, usually under the table!), and every other week the toilets and bathroom counters get cleaned. It’s been working really well for months now. I just check to see what my “chore of the day” is and everything is specifically timed to take no more than two hours per day so that there’s still plenty of time to spend with my daughter and husband. I only get the shiny feeling one room at a time, but it works great for us along with our daily basics (dishes, counters, laundry, and a brief before bed pick-up). My husband can’t believe that his non-domestic wife has finally turned into his definition of a “domestic goddess” 🙂
    I really think the secret is definately finding what works for your family – isn’t it just like everything else? One size does not fit all. But it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who doesn’t mop EVERY week!

    • I do like you and try to do one chore a day. It’s not the end of the world if we don’t get it done, but it helps to keep things on a routine.
      I have a friend who says she has never mopped her floor since moving into her house 4 years ago…uh, that reminds me to not take off my shoes in her house unless I have black socks on…she says that they just clean up spills when they happen, but seriously, I know how dirty mine gets just moping every few weeks and they have a cat added in the mix. EW!
      So not mopping every week is fine as long as you don’t go 4 years! 😉

  21. This sounds like just what I need! I often get overwhelmed by all that needs doing, but I love a good routine, so I think a monthly day devoted to housecleaning would work well for me. Thanks so much for sharing!! 🙂

  22. Love this Jamie! I have been so struggling with the weekly chore list and feel like the house is never deep cleaned (so wrapped up in the day to day tidying). I am a bit envious of those who can afford to have people come in and clean (my friends, sister) but this might be the answer to my problems! Thanks 🙂
    RaisingZ’s latest post: Earth Week

  23. When our kids are older, I could definitely see us doing that. I’m almost embarrassed to admit this but we have cleaning ladies who come once a week. With a little one all over the floor all the time and two dogs, well, it just needed a little more care than I could do on my own. For years after we were first married, we had a cleaning lady once a month and it worked out great for us. We did a light to moderate cleaning in the middle of the month and let her do the heavy lifting.

    I’m curious how often other people change their sheets if anyone is brave enough to share? 🙂 My husband cringes that I used to only change my sheets once every other week. I took a bath every night so I didn’t feel like they had to be changed weekly! Anyone with me? Or am I a repulsive slacker?

    • Don’t be embarrassed, Lise! I totally would have kept up with the cleaners if it had worked out for us. I know lots of people who have cleaners.

      Sheets are on the four week rotation for me, unless someone wets their bed between. So you can tell your hubbie there’s someone more slack than you are!!

      • I’m a slacker like Jamie, only worse (smile). My kids only get their sheets changed once every couple months – for sure once every season. I change our bed every couple of weeks or when I remember. Having no dryer forces you to evaluate how much you really need clean sheets, especially in the winter when all that laundry has to hang to dry indoors.

        • Sheets every other week. I mean, we keep our bodies clean nowadays don’t we? The only reason to change more often is bedwetting (thankfully extremely rare) and if someone is ill with a fever, then I usually change very day. We don’t use the dryer for sheets, we hang them and iron them (I know, I’m bad when it comes to bedlinen….)
          We do have a cleaner come in every week to do the cleaning and no I’m not at all embarassed about it. we both work full time and have two kids and I don’t want to spend my free time cleaning, I want to be with my kids. We want the kids to learn how to clean though so we do daily decluttering sessions and they take turns to clean the surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen every other day. Best of two worlds!

          • I do sheets about once a month, though I try to remember to do pillow cases a little more often. On my son’s toddler bed with guard rail, it is difficult to change the sheets, so MIL & I made a few “exact-size-comforters” to lay over the mattress…kind of like a mattress protector, but it goes over the fitted sheet and it is in patterns/colors he will like. If he has an accident, I just swap out the comforters easily in the night (on that rare occasion I will wash the fitted sheet underneath the next morning). And I can just wash the comforter when it needs it.
            Jennifer’s latest post: A soy-free- vegan life

    • From reading the replies, I am very happy to hear the responses….I would ideally like to change mine once a week (since my husband sweats sometimes while sleeping) but the reality is more like every other week or once a month at the most. My two kids sleep together right now in one bed and the youngest is still in diapers and I find the sheets get an ammonia like smell (even with no diaper leaks) eventually so I try to do those sheets every other week.

  24. This is SUCH a great idea!!!! I may have to try this!
    misty’s latest post: Sticks and Holes

  25. How inspiring! I am also a perfectionist, but I tend to let things slide for way too long when I’m discouraged. I will see if I can do this! Thanks!
    Julia’s latest post: Recycled Newspaper Easter Baskets

  26. My life-changing cleaning moment came at the combination of Small Notebook’s post about “picking up” being different from “cleaning” and your post about cleaning something only when it starts to bother me.

    Rachel says, in essence, if you are putting away books and finding leftover glasses all over the house or putting shoes in the closet–that’s not cleaning! When I separated the act of putting things where they belong from vacuuming and wiping mirrors and windows and sweeping the porch it completely altered how I felt about having a clean house. When my husband calls to tell me he is headed home from work I spend the 15 minutes of his commute putting things back into their proper places.

    Then, separate from those pick-up-and-put-away times, I clean. If the dog seems to have shed a lot in the living room I vacuum *that room.* If I notice that my porch is covered with leaves I sweep (with my broom or just kicking them with my shoe!) but only *those bothersome leaves!”

    Some seasons in my life may work with FlyLady or they may work with a ‘cleaning schedule,’ but this is not one of them. And I’m just embracing that and giving myself permission to not feel guilty for it!

  27. I live in South Africa where many poor ladies are in desperate need of a job and labour is cheap. Many (maybe even most) middle-class families have full-time maids. I have opted to have a cleaning service once a week (for that deep clean and ironing) and friends don’t know how I cope with so little help!

    How interesting to read the comments from the other side of the globe! I am sure necessity means children get more involved in housekeeping and chores – very valuable life skills!

  28. Love this approach! At certain seasons of our lives we have hired someone to clean for us, and at those times, it has been a blessing. However, I found that the experience was much better if I hired an independent, individual person with whom I could build a relationship (as opposed to a cleaning company). This way, I found it possible to bless someone else who was in need of work, who needed a fair wage to support their own family, and I was blessed by their service in turn. I then found that the women who cleaned for us were much more responsive and willing to work with our family’s needs, when we built that relationship. We re-evaluate our family’s needs periodically, and if we are in a season in which the cleaning no longer fits, we cancel the service. During these times when we are doing it on our own, this seems like a great strategy to try – I plan to give it a shot!

  29. I really like this idea!! Thank you for sharing!
    Jamie’s latest post: why I like it here- part three

  30. I’m not sure that once a month cleaning would work for us. I seem to barely get anything done even when I am trying to be intentional about my cleaning. Maybe as the kids get older we can try it. I try to stay on top of the basics every day, and then on Saturday or a random day I shoose to clean I focus more on what I’ve noticed needs cleaning. I have used FlyLady’s e-mail system and it worked well for a while, but I’m just getting by right now, with keeping up with kids and feeding them, and laundry and dishes, I haven’t looked at my e-mails from her in probably a year.
    Suanna’s latest post: Lets Play Catch Up!

  31. Awesome! I just need to be intentional about it! With three wee ones it is tough to get anything but the basics done anymore. (even in a tiny apartment!) But maybe, just maybe, setting aside some time each month I might just finally scrub that toilet and mop the floor before it becomes extremely necessary!
    Kiasa’s latest post: Simon- 4 months

  32. BRILLIANT! I think you might have just changed my life 😉

  33. Very interesting conversation! I have been all over the board with this one! For 13 years, while I was having my babies and raising little ones, cleaning houses was my job. I worked for myself and cleaned 3 houses 3 days a week, most of the time. It gave me flexibility of work and a good income for a young mom who had married too young and not finished school. I got an AHA moment and started scheduling my house into my schedule. Once every 2 weeks, my house would be the 3rd house of the day and I would come in and attack and clean it just like I was in someone else\’s house. Loved it! Fast forward… years of homeschooling, kids cleaning… Went to work fulltime corporate, first thing I did was hire a bi-weekly cleaning lady, lol! It was awesome and required as my job was very demanding. Now, I am a stay at home wife/writer/Nana. My youngest child is 18! I have been struggling with when to clean everything as I am bad to just put it off until we have company (other than the occasional pickup or vacuum the LR) Doing a once a month full cleaning just as if I were having company is a great idea. Now, an idea for a whole other post. Many moms are wondering how in the world do you clean the entire house in one day, and how did I clean 3 in a day?
    Living the Balanced Life’s latest post: Does having less stuff make life easier

  34. Interesting post Jamie

    Yeah, I’d love to be able to implement this in my house. The thing is, I think it would bother me that the kids would have the whole house messed up by the next day! lol But I guess it has to be done sometime right? Once a month deep cleaning and “upkeep” the rest of the time seems like a good balance.

  35. Okay, I love this idea. It totally works with my personality. I discovered last year how once a month cooking works well for me. I imagine once a month cleaning would work well too. I’m going to give this a try.
    Janet’s latest post: Menu Plan Monday 4-18-11

  36. This is what “genius” is made of…
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  37. This post rocked my socks off!

    Until 3 months ago we had a cleaning service every 2 weeks and I had all the same complaints you did.

    I found myself discontent~which seemed so selfish, I mean how can you be discontent when someone else is cleaning your house?! I finally decided I couldn’t stop complaining so I had to stop the cleaning service. And we have been so happy with our decision.

    We don’t clean every two weeks, more like every three. And now we might even switch to every four 🙂 Thanks so much, Jamie.
    Tracey’s latest post: 13 years ago today

  38. This is a great idea. (Especially the part about takeout for dinner that night!) I think I could gear up for a major clean if I knew it was ONLY once a month! (I think!)
    Anne’s latest post: How to Cook Without a Book

    • That’s what I like about it, Anne. I feel like I can do anything for just one day! (I do get pretty tired by mid-afternoon though! =)

  39. Love this, Jamie! I’m late seeing this, but I had to pipe up and say I’m going to start using this method ASAP. Thank you!

  40. I’ve tried once a week. Not working. Thank you for this perspective! I’m gonna try it

  41. I’ve tried cleaning on Saturday. Didn’t work. I like this perspective! I’m gonna try it!

  42. I wonder why I’ve never thought of this? I’ll give it a try!
    Astreil’s latest post: Moving Out of the Mud Bath

  43. This is great! I’ve been trying to work up a similar sort of schedule but it keeps falling by the wayside. I think I need to recommit to it…
    meghann’s latest post: a nature walk in the backyard

  44. This scares me, because of dust and allergies and germs… but then I am kind of freaky about that stuff. We moved into a house that is 3x the size of our old house last year, and it takes me over 8 hours to do the weekly cleaning. I homeschool my kids and it has been a real adjustment to get used to cleaning so much space! I have had many weeks where I skip and do every other, but it drives me crazy in between, I feel like everything is dirty.

    My daughter has dust allergies, and I found out she is also allergic to our dog, so I worry about waiting a whole month. Do you know if it has any effect on allergies?
    Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s latest post: A Mission Project for Your Kids

    • Hi Angela. Thanks for your comment.

      Personally, no I’m not a bit worried about that side of things. My husband is sometimes sensitive to dust, but it hasn’t been an issue for him. And the members of our family very rarely get sick at all. We’re also a pet-free family, so that may cut down on vacuuming hair, etc.

      Our house is about 1750 square feet with 4 bedrooms and 1.5 baths, so that is the perspective I’m coming from. If you have a much bigger house I’m sure it would take longer, but 8 hours a week?! Wowzers! 😉
      Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s latest post: The Case for Once a Month Cleaning

      • Angela, I have a son with seasonal allergies and has slight allergies to our dog and cats. We use a permanent filter HEPA air purifier in his room and a big one in our great room. If you get one with an ionizer, you’d be surprised how little dust there is in the room where the filter is. HEPA filters also filter out germ particles. We live in AZ and it’s dusty five minutes after I dust. Which makes it hard to motivate myself to do. It’s become a chore for my boys now.

      • Thanks for replying, I was really curious about this! I have to say, the idea stuck with me all day and I’ve been fantasizing about it. I think I might give it a try every other week except for dusting and vacuuming! We do have a short haired dog, but he only goes downstairs where the floors are stone, so this helps, too.

        Thanks 🙂 (And my house is over 3,000 sf, so 8 hours is a pretty good time!)
        Angela @ Homegrown Mom’s latest post: Kids 4 Orphans Project Ideas

    • My house is small (840 sq. feet plus basement) so it doesn’t take as long to clean it as you, but I still don’t get the dusting done as much as I would like…but I had to comment that although I am sure that A LOT of dust would have issues with allergies etc. that in all actuality a lot of people overclean and oversterlize (especially if they are using a lot of disinfectants and antibacterial type stuff) and that is really bad for the immune system. We actually NEED dirt and there have been many studies how children who live on farms have healthier immune systems etc.

  45. this? this is brilliant. and you’re right, Jamie, it is about bringing awareness and intention to every area of our lives.

  46. Oh, this is very, very cool! I love the idea of dedicating a day to deep cleaning and then forgetting about it for the rest of the month. Brilliant!

    You are so right about an uncluttered home fooling people into thinking it is clean. I once had a lady who I thought was a very neat/clean person tell me that she hadn’t cleaned her home in a very long time. But because it was clutter free, it still looked good.

    I love how you think outside the box Jamie!
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  47. I’m not sure that I’ve ever met a home educating mom who doesn’t feel like she is not teaching her kids well enough. It’s a crime and one that recently came up at a co-op mtg. It was good to have a former classroom teacher there to assuage our guilt. The other thing I think we struggle with is the cleaning issue. When we visit each other’s homes, there is inevitably the “excuse the mess” comment. I think that should be banned. No more excuses. This once a month cleaning is a great idea. I have the other list with just a few things per day to do and that will work great when my boys are s bit older. Right now it’s just me doing the heavy lifting. And this would really help me shake that guilt knowing that I will do it but not carry the guilt that it’s not clean t.o.d.a.y. Thanks for the inspiration!

  48. There is a poem I think you would love called “I Took His Hand and Followed” by Mrs. Roy L. Peifer. You can find it HERE:
    The poem starts:
    “My dishes went unwashed today, I didn’t make the bed.
    I took his hand and followed, where his eager footsteps led.”

  49. Great idea! We used to do deep cleaning EVERY Saturday growing up. I seriously resented it because it cut in to anything else we wanted to do. So of course, I don’t keep my home like that. Once a month cleaning is a great idea to do the deep stuff!

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God
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  50. Great post – thank you!!!

    The following tips have really helped me:

    *If you can swap cleaning with a friend, I highly recommend it. It is sooooo much easier to clean someone else’s house because you won’t be distracted by things like your e-mail, answering the phone, filing this, mending that. Even if you bring your kids along, they will be more entertained with “new to them” toys.

    *If you can clean without your kids with you, even better. I can accomplish as much in an hour without my kids as I can in four when they are with me. Plus, it gives me a deadline – “I have one hour until Papa brings them home. Go, go, go!!!!”

    *Always put your “workers” to work while you are working. The washer should be running the entire time – start with sheets so they are ready by the time you are ready to tackle the bedrooms. Load and start the dishwasher. Spray all surfaces so that you don’t have to scrub. Spray counters, tubs, sticky spots on the floor and then come back to them – everything will lift easily.

    *Start with the bathrooms 1st. Usually, they are the most dreaded so getting them out of the way is a good thing. Also, they are the least likely areas to be re-dirtied up immediately.

    *Have less stuff. Dusting a shelf is easier if you aren’t having to dust individual items. Even just having to lift items up is a waste of time.

    *Have a maintenance routine in place. Load the dishwasher every evening, unload it every morning. Wipe down bathroom counters when the kids are in the tub. Don’t wear shoes in the house.

    *Invite friends over – incentive to clean with a deadline and a purpose. Friends like take-out too!!!

  51. Briliant! Absolutely Brilliant!! This is likely the BEST idea — EVER!! Well, except for grace, that is, but i think that this idea might fall under a form of grace, don’t you think?
    Sally’s latest post: Mystery of History- Week 1-ish

  52. I do love the idea of this, because I too would rather spend time doing things I love, than cleaning, but I am concerned about the maintenance part.
    I usually feel like I am cleaning all the time, even though I definitely don’t deep clean very regularly. Regular cleaning and maintenance just seems to take up a ton of my time. So, even if I am intentional about spending a chunk of time deep cleaning once a month, I worry that I might still feel like I am always cleaning just trying to keep up with the regular maintenance. How do you balance that?

    Also, we host a home group for our church every week and I although I’ve really learned to let go of my perfectionist tendencies when it comes to cleaning before having people over, I still like to have a fairly clean and presentable home. I’m not sure how that would fit with deep cleaning just once a month? How do you handle having guests?
    Thanks for a this great post and ideas though!
    Emily @ Live Renewed’s latest post: Benefits and Challenges of Joining a CSA

    • Hi Emily. I’m going to write a follow-up post about exactly how this plays out in real life for me, so that may answer some of your questions.

      But just as a quick answer–I tidy my house lots, but I don’t consider that cleaning. That’s just part of my daily life–cleaning dishes, sweeping up after meals, vacuuming the living room rug or floor when it needs it, etc. If we have guests, those are the types of things I would do to prepare–but those are things I would do anyway as upkeep.

      Thanks for your comment!
      Jamie ~ Simple Homeschool’s latest post: 5 Ways to Simplify Dinner in a Homeschool Kitchen

      • Thanks Jamie! I’ve been mulling over this the past week or so, and I think what doing this would mean for me is that my house would actually get deep cleaned – not just surfaced cleaned and maintained – more regularly than it does now (which is not very often). And that would overall help me to feel like my house is clean, instead of feeling overwhelmed about all the cleaning I have to do. So, I think I’ll have to give it a try for a few months and see how it works for me. I’ll look forward to your follow-up post too!
        Emily @ Live Renewed’s latest post: Going Green vs Buying Green

      • Elizabeth says:

        I guess some of this comes down to semantics. What you call “tidying” – I absolutely call cleaning, and some of the once a month/deep cleaning things….I just almost never do unless it looks really bad (e.g. every few months!) My daily tidying/cleaning = sweeping floors of rampant dog hair and food crumbs, repeated wiping down of bath countertops, repeated wiping down of kitchen countertops and dining room table, and cleaning up after my husband, who is a total slob, bless him. Every few days the essential tidying/cleaning = cleaning bathroom mirrors, dusting (our house gets dusty VERY quickly), wiping down the MANY stainless steel surfaces in the kitchen. The “essentials” keep me busy enough! Can’t wait until my daughter is old enough that I can delegate some of this to year, but she is only 8 months old 🙂

  53. I like this idea – I wonder how long it takes you. I have a hard time getting psyched up for a long cleaning binge…..sometimes breaking it into pieces with the rotation method works better for me. I follow the fly lady’s schedule when I can keep up.

    I have peace of mind that each area of my house will be focused on once a month and I don’t get overwhelmed with doing it all at once! Thanks for the ideas!

  54. I love, love, love this idea, Jamie.

    As a busy mom of 3 who runs a business from home, I often struggle with finding the time to clean – I know it needs to be done but it manages to fall to the bottom of the list. Then, when I DO actually clean, it’s so much harder because I’ve let it go for so long.

    This is the perfect solution and one that I think any mom can manage. 🙂

    Thanks so much!

  55. This seems like a great idea…I just don’t know if I can pull it off with five kids. Things tend to get pretty gritty around here fast. Truth be told, my floors cannot wait a month to be vacuumed or mopped.

    It’s certainly something for me to think about though! It would be nice to free my mind of cleaning so I can pursue other things with more focus. 🙂 Thanks for the idea!

    • I know the feeling! My kitchen and dining room floor are just about gross by the end of the day! My solution? I broke down and bought a shark mop! It takes 5 minutes to do the floors, they dry instantly and (if need be) it’s super quiet so I can use it after the girls go to bed!

  56. I’m so glad I found this article! I decided to try this a few days ago but wasn’t sure how well it would work for our house. I also have a list of daily tasks that aren’t really cleaning but they are wonderful for preventing total household chaos! Its great to hear that is possible! Thanks!

  57. I love this! It’s kind of liberating. The regrets I have head from other moms whose kids are now grown is often that they wish they had spent less time cleaning and more time with their kids. This seems like a great compromise.

  58. I have been doing this for awhile now and I love it! I also tidy everyday and I clean anything that looks tragic. But for deep cleaning, it doens’t have to be done but every 3-5 weeks. It frees my mind to play with my littles and stop fussing about the house. Jaime, if you are just starting I think you will find it wonderfully freeing.
    Karen’s latest post: Wow- It is Really Hard

  59. I so have to try this. Thanks for the idea! I have really been struggling with how to “do” cleaning and have tried tons of systems…nothing works for me. This sounds different and like it might work.

  60. I have to ask… do your kids clean along with you? Because so much of the advice I read seems to involve how wives keep up with their cleaning chores (all of which irritates me to no end). One of the best things you can teach your kids is that their efforts are appreciated (as well as necessary!). I think it’s also crucial to teach them that you aren’t their maid.
    Wendy’s latest post: Spring Planting in Raised Beds

    • I agree with you Wendy :). When I work out a cleaning schedule for our house, my three kids share in the load. The last few months we haven’t been on a schedule so when something needs tending I pick 4 main areas or things that need to be done and let them each choose what they would rather do. I know it may not get cleaned spotlessly or even as well or the way that *I* think it should be, but I think it is good for them to help maintain our home and will hopefully prepare them for the future. I also hope that by having them help, they will start taking more responsibility for the mess they create. I know it has helped with laundry. The kids have been washing their own clothes since the twins were 4 and the oldest 7 (with help, as needed) and that really cut down on unnecessary changing of clothes and throwing clean clothes on the floor instead of putting them up. Once they were in charge of washing all of their clothes they started to take better care of what they did. The same with dishes. We don’t have a dishwasher anymore & I hurt my back a few months ago, so the kids (now 9 &13) had to start doing dishes. They aren’t so likely to mess up as many dishes either and will reuse their cups now.
      Thanks for the article – I will have to start trying this deep cleaning once a month 🙂

    • Elizabeth says:

      OR how about including DAD along with the kids?! 🙂

  61. Okay I am gearing up to try this tomorrow (my supper for tomorrow is already made, I doubled a crockpot recipe for today and tomorrow). I can’t wait to read a follow up post of how this actually LOOKS in your family. Especially how you maintain the kids during this time- how they help you, what they do when they are not helping you etc.

  62. Cynthia Coffey says:

    I’m on my second month and LOVING it. I also find it hard to get motivated to clean something that doesn’t look that bad.

  63. This has alot of merit; especially for families with little ones. A home needs to be tidy not perfect. Clean not sterilized. While some of these would need to be tweaked for my particular family, i like the idea very much of an uninterrupted cleaning day where you can get in that mindset and stay there until the job is done. Great post.

  64. #3 I’m cleaning when it really needs to be done.

    This is me. I have such a hard time getting motivated to dust a shelf that’s showing no signs of dirt. However, because it’s on my list, I feel like I NEED to do it. Then, when I don’t, I feel guilty. 🙁 I really think once a month cleaning is worth a try for me. It’s essentially what I end up doing anyways, but I always feel guilty when I miss a day of cleaning. What a great suggestion!! Thanks for posting!
    Leigh Ann’s latest post: Blogging with a Vision – Part 2

  65. Hallelujah! THANK YOU so much for this post!

  66. Cynthia Coffey says:

    Month 4 is tomorrow. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for an idea for cleaning my house that works! Another benefit to mention: The house gets pretty gritty towards the end of the month, so I am actually excited for cleaning day. Excited about cleaning?! YEP!

  67. Well, I have cleaned once a week ever since I can remember…Cleaning, just because I felt I had too…My Son is now gone, and my Daughter is 15 and very busy…Now I think I am doing it out of habit…I am definetly going to give this once a month thing a try…I just hope I don’t go crazy thinking my house is dirty, lol! Thanks so much for the advice!

  68. cleaning my house is the biggest pain in the world. that’s why i hire someone to do it for me!

  69. Thank you! I DESPISE cleaning. I think I’ll try this. Surely I can spend 13 days this year cleaning.

  70. Funny, I just did the same thing – priced a once a month cleaning service. When I received the quote, all I could think about was all the OTHER things I could do with that much money!

  71. I know this is from a while back, but I love it! I was just contemplating whether we could afford the once-a-month cleaner. I’m definitely going to do this instead! Today’s the day … I’m going for it! Thanks, Jamie.

  72. One bad experience with a specific cleaning company shouldn’t turn you off to the idea totally! There are plenty of good ones out there that are inexpensive, thorough, and have good customer service to boot..

  73. This has me so excited! Such a great idea! Thanks so much for posting about this!

  74. It is a great post and thanks for your kindness sharing.
    Sorry, i dont have enough time that I can clean on a weekly basis.
    However, I think I’ll try this.

  75. Sounds like a great idea! I go around feeling guilty all the time that I’m not doing my assigned daily cleaning chores, but really, if I just set aside one day a month (and roped the kids in for a cleaning blast and then a treat) and did them all, the house would look better and I think the guilt would disappear. I’m going to give it a whirl! Thanks so much!

  76. This is a great idea! As a new homeschooler, I have been feeling very overwhelmed with all the tasks.

  77. LOVE this! First year home schooler here! Totally going to try to apply your ideas here!!
    April’s latest post: We’re getting better at enjoying paradise.

  78. Being your own cleaning service. How cool is that! Very efficient, and I can see how it would take the pressure off for the rest of the month.

  79. Fantastic article. “I’m cleaning when it really needs to be done” I am the same. I can`t understand how people have time to clean everyday or ….twice per day. Love your post! Keep posting! Greetings!

  80. Thanks for sharing great tips. Doing housework is really tired after a long working day. It almost take me an hour a day for doing cleaning. Hope that those ideas will save me from that boring work. I always have many appliances to help finishing my duty as soon as possible.

  81. I just saw this post! I would love to try once s month cleaning! The link to an example cleaning list wasn’t working. Do you have a mater list you follow?

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