My Family’s New Cleaning Rule Has Made Our Home So Much Cleaner

published May 10, 2023
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As in many homes, I, as a mom, end up taking on the majority of the cleaning and other housework. Regardless of who’s always doing the cleaning, with multiple people in the home, it starts to wear on you — especially when it’s not your only responsibility. I know in my circumstance, I’m a freelance writer too. I have deadlines and client meetings. I also cook meals and take care of the kids the majority of the time. And there’s always the underlying goal of trying to keep the house in order regularly. It can feel pretty heavy on any given day juggling so much, and I’m sure this isn’t news to most.

Something that has started to change my cleaning mentality, however, is a saying I heard from writer Sean Kernan. I frequently read his writing, and one common household rule he shares in his posts is this: “If one person is cleaning, everyone is cleaning.” It’s something he references a lot — it’s a rule his family had when he was growing up, and one he still follows to this day. Essentially, if one person was cleaning, everyone else was expected to stop whatever they were doing and help out. 

For such a long time, I’ve assumed most of the cleaning responsibilities without constantly asking for help. I guess you could say I have a certain way I like to do things, such as tri-folding the bathroom towels so they fit neatly in the closet. And yes, if they get folded a different way it makes it that much harder for everything to fit. But as my kids have gotten older and more commitments are showing up on our calendar, it’s just not feasible to think I can keep up this pace on my own. 

So recently I’ve made it a point to put this phrase into action with my own family, and so far, I’m happy I did. If I’m cleaning, everyone else finds a task as well. We’re working together much more to keep our house in order. It’s not uncommon to see everyone pitching in and doing their task at the same time (even if there are some groans). What once took several hours takes much faster to finish.

For example, my daughter takes on cleaning the windows (especially the sliding doors where our dog likes watching the birds) because I think, in large part,  she loves the spray bottle. (Hey, whatever works, right?) Towels are getting folded (even if it’s not quite how I would do it) and put away by others in the house besides me. 

With everyone pitching in more consistently, I no longer feel quite so overwhelmed. I’ve managed to let go of some cleaning tasks that have lightened my mental load. It feels like such a simple practice I should have embraced a while ago, and our home is cleaner (most of the time) and happier for it too.