keep a busy home clean
Tricky stuff

Tips on how to keep a busy home clean

As a working mum of three children under 11 with a dog who constantly moults and a family that seems to be blind to dirt, I am in need of some efficient housekeeping tips to keep a busy home clean. Can you please advise me some ways I can make sure the kitchen, bathroom and sitting room remain clean and presentable. My house is a mess and I need some sort of system in place where we all pull our weight!

Caroline says…

Just like this household, I had a very busy family home with four children, an assortment of pets and working at the same time, and it is just not possible to have it in perfect condition all the time. Over the years my standards have changed and I no longer look for perfection in my home. It is clean, warm and comfortable. When the children were young it was hell for leather at the weekends trying to get all the house work done so that little had to be done during the week but this left me having an exhausting weekend, irritable and going back to work on Monday tired and out of sorts. So a better plan had to be devised that would get the work done but leave more time for fun stuff at the weekends.

Do the kitchen every day

Firstly, the kitchen needs to be kept sorted on a daily basis. Everyone needs to pitch in after the dinner every evening. Children can learn to empty and fill the dishwasher. Have a daily/weekly rota to cut down on the rows about who does what. Filling the dog’s water bowl and food dish as well as sweeping the floor when the meal is finished can be added to the daily/weekly rota. If possible, empty the dishwasher every night so that it is empty every morning and breakfast dishes can be piled in quickly in the morning before everyone leaves for school/work. There is nothing worse than coming home from a hard day’s work to have to clean up after the breakfast before you can even start the dinner. It can take a bit of time to get a routine going but once everyone is involved.

Make tidying a habit

The bathroom and sitting room cleaning do not need to be tackled on a daily basis. However, cleaning and tidying are two completely different jobs. Once the place is tidy cleaning is much easier to tackle. So keep the tidying to a daily basis and then the cleaning to a weekly time slot. Encourage the children to put toys away when they are finished playing with them. Do not let it accumulate over the week so that by the end of the week every toy in the house has arrived in the sitting room. Insist the children look after their own belongings. The sitting room is a family room, to be used by all, not just a toy room for them. Similarly teach them to clean their toothbrush and put it back where it belongs after each use. This also goes for hanging up towels on rails and not on the floor and cleaning away the toothpaste they might spit around the sink. These three things can have a big impact on keeping the bathroom presentable from one day to the next.

Get the kids involved

As the bathroom and sitting room remain tidy the weekly clean is much easier to tackle. Again try to let the children do some of the jobs. There is no reason why they can’t learn to vacuum, dust, clean a sink, toilet and shower. They can all have a chore they must do every week. Don’t expect perfect results initially but they will improve as time goes on. Also if the chore time is not too prolonged, they soon get over doing some housework. Expect some grumbling, but remain firm and it will soon become the norm.

All of the above works when it is practiced, but as I have stated before, family life is not predictable so use the ideas as and when it fits into your family space.

About Caroline: Caroline previously held the position of county president of the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA). She is a keen crafts maker and baker and is knowledgeable on all aspects of home-making.

More like this:

Managing a busy family
Making way for a new arrival
How to be a stay-at-home dad


Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….



Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.