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How a Messy Mom Cleans: The Minimum

Messy MomI had the “Messy Mom” series all planned out.  I had one more article outlined and knew exactly what I was going to say.

And then, I read a blog post that will change this series and may very well change my life.

Leila, from Like Mother, Like Daughter, wrote about New Year’s Resolutions (way back in 2009.)  Instead of making fancy resolutions, she suggested this:  Do better in the minimum anyone can expect from you, and you will do better in everything else.

Do better in the MINIMUM anyone can expect from you, and you will do better in everything else. 

Then, she went on to say that the minimum anyone can expect from a mom or homemaker is food and laundry.


That’s right.  Food and laundry.


I’m not going to lie.  Those are probably my two least favorite household chores.  I don’t cook a lot, and I rarely fold laundry.  It’s a problem, I know. 

But when I look around at my house, and decide to tackle one of the problems I see, I rarely start with food and laundry.  I reorganize a bathroom drawer, pick up toys off the floor, or hang a pretty picture on the wall.

I ignore the cooking (and everything that goes with it) and laundry. 

I do the minimum of the minimum. 


Ugh.  That sentence is ugly.  It makes me feel defeated and yucky.

But, it gives me some clarity. 

I constantly feel behind around the house.   And maybe it’s not because the kids’ art supplies need organized, or I need to hang more hooks in the entryway.

Maybe I feel behind because I am behind.  On food and laundry.


Do better in the MINIMUM anyone can expect from you, and you’ll do better at everything else.

I’m not sure about that 2nd part, but I’m willing to give the first part a try.  I’m going to try to do better at food and laundry.

First step happens NOW:

I’m going to put away the clothes in my bedroom.

I’m going to the basement to wash a load of laundry.

I’m going to pick up something from the deep freeze to make for supper on my way up.

I’m going to do the dishes so I have a clean counter to cook on tonight.

(And here’s the proof that I followed through before finishing this blog post!  Woot!)

IMG_5776-2463(rev 1)


Fellow Messy Moms, I need to know.  Are you caught up on Food and Laundry? (Now they get capital letters.  It’s my way of telling myself that these things are important!)  Maybe you’re even AHEAD on Food and Laundry!  Please, either commiserate or help me in the comment section below.

Would you like to comment?

  1. See, i'm just the opposite. When I feel behind I always start there because if I can do that I feel pretty good. But I ALWAYS have dirty floors and dirty windows and cobwebs! I am very good at food and laundry but I don't have much motivation with much after that.

  2. I excel at laundry but am terrible at getting inspired to dust or vacuum or wash my windows. The food thing comes and goes - some weeks I'm okay, but some weeks I struggle on the weekdays when life gets in the way. Good tips to remember!

  3. You are amazing! I love your honesty as we all face these things and not everything always looks as perfect as it does on our blogs!! :-) I have been making a concerted effort to be a better housekeeper. Not that my house was ever gross or disgusting. I always did the bare minimum.

    Now food, I have down. I actually make a two or three week calendar of the meals I want to make. I shop for those items and then hang that list of meals on the back of a cabinet door. In the morning, I always check to see what is for dinner and lay out whatever needs to thaw. By the time dinner rolls around, it is thawed and ready to go! You should check out e-meals. I had an account with them for 2 years. I have been saving all the menus so I didn't continue it, but it is a great resource!

    As for laundry and my house... I would clean every couple of weeks and scrub like the Queen of England was coming. It would be an all day event, but you could eat off the floors. I do Jemma's and Tom's laundry but mine gets neglected. I am awesome at washing and drying, but folding and putting away... ugh. I started reading the Clean Mama blog and I will say that it has made a difference. I have divided up the chores and do a little bit each day and the house stays clean! When I do clean the bathrooms, I don't have to scrub scrub scrub because they are already pretty darn clean! It has really made a difference for me! With the laundry, I am trying to do one load each day that I wash, dry, fold AND put away. Just doing one has been a lot more manageable. I tend to get overwhelmed with cleaning and laundry, but this has made a difference!

    I have also discovered Norwex and am kind of obsessed! Jemma has really started helping me clean and do chores (family contributions as we call them not chores!) and I didn't want her inhaling Pledge and everything else. Norwex stuff is pricey, but my counters, shower and mirrors have NEVER been this clean!

    Wow! See what happens when I don't talk to you for a while?!?

  4. I also make a meal plan, but only for a week at a time. I make sure to have "quick" meals on hand in case we have a rough day or I just don't have the motivation to cook something more involved. For laundry, we sort as we go. I only do a dark load and a light load...we kind of stay away from white around here, and my daughter is out of diapers now (yippee!). So when the dark (or light) hamper is full, I wash that load that day. It means I do laundry more often, but less of it at a time. The rest of the house is a crap shoot with toys, fur, crayons/paper and dust visible at all times :)

  5. I hate washing the windows. My husband usually gives in and does the necessary ones before we have company. :)

    I don't mind doing laundry, but sometimes it takes a day or two to bring it up from downstairs and put it away. One thing that has definitely helped with the laundry process is folding it right out of the dryer. I make a t-shirt stack, a shorts/pants stack and a boxer stack and lay all of my hang up clothes over a stool so they don't get too wrinkly. Then all the socks, underwear, etc get put into a laundry bag and sorted on my bed. Since almost all of it is already folded when I carry it upstairs, it makes putting it away a lot easier.

    With the dishes I try to keep up with all of them, but if not, I at least rinse them off and stack them so when I do finally unload the dishwasher then they are not all crusted on. I usually get my 3 year old to help unload it while I'm cooking supper most nights.

    As far as the dusting, floor steaming and vacuuming go I wish I did this more regularly. Any tips? And the bathroom sink and toilet get cleaned as needed, but the shower is ever other week or so.

    And some weeks I have a plan as far as meals go and some weeks I don't. Would LOVE to me more regular with this!

  6. I hear ya! I often say, "I need a wife!", but really, I just try to keep up, not keep perfect. I do a monthly meal calendar and shop every 3 weeks because its a 30 minute drive to a supermarket. I'll buy milk and bread at our little grocery in town once a week or so. I hate shopping and its kind of an all morning thing, I like to do it infrequently so that I have more time at home (during the school year-- I teach).
    Laundry is an all day affair on Saturdays, but I just remind myself that at least I'm not standing outside at the wringer or hanging clothes on the line in the middle of winter.
    I think everyone needs to find what works for them and as long as everyone is happy and healthy at your house, it's all good!!!

  7. You know me, I am rarely behind in cooking. But I am ALWAYS behind in the laundry. I get it washed and dried, but rarely folded and put away. And I am ALWAYS behind in picking up clutter. So, I guess I need to do better at laundry and clutter!

  8. NEVER caught up or even somewhat caught up with laundry...With a house hold of 7 I dread laundry. :( And I HATE socks...refuse to fold them. They all go into a sock basket and each child matches their initials on the bottoms in mornings. I'm okay with keeping up with cooking, but my bedroom is always the dumb zone. I always get to everything else else first, and have no energy for my room.


  9. Food and laundry are probably my weakest areas, too. I have no problem mopping or wiping fingerprints off something, or cleaning out a drawer or cabinet, but cook dinner every night? Wash, fold and put laundry away daily? Ugh. But your post inspired me. I took some chicken out of the freezer and folded two baskets of clothes. I have four more to go, but it's a start.

  10. Love the post! A New Year's Resolution for myself this year was to do a load of laundry daily. It really helps me to stay on top of laundry and then I just have to fold and put it away right away other wise it piles up in the corner of whoever's bedroom it belongs. The worst is socks!