How to Stay on Top of Housework (For Busy College Moms)

Tips for busy moms who want to know how to stay on top of housework

One of the biggest challenges moms in college face is how to stay on top of housework. Where do you find the time to clean, do laundry, cook, vacuum, and keep your home organized?

Many moms in school also have to work full-time to support their families. So between work, school, and taking care of the kids, there’s hardly any time left to keep on top of housework. No wonder managing housework is such a big issue.

Now, the problem is lots of moms aren’t happy living in a messy house. These moms want their homes to be clean and organized. They want to cook dinners for their families and have clean clothes to wear. But, the problem for some is finding the time to do it all, while for others, they lack the motivation because they don’t know where to start after letting their homes get too messy.

So, the question is, how do you manage house and work or house and school?

Well, I have some good news for you mama. No matter how busy you are or how overwhelmed you feel, you can pick yourself up and learn how to stop struggling to keep on top of housework.

Here’s how to stay on top of chores when you are a busy mom working full time or going to school.



Depending on your school or work schedule, you may have more “free” time on some days than on others, so the first thing you want to do is to estimate how much time you can devote to housework each day or each week (I think each week is better).

Once you know how much time you can spend managing your home, then it’s easy to see how much you can get done each week, which household tasks to prioritize, which ones you can delegate, and which ones you can leave until you have a bit more time.

Even if you have a flexible work schedule or a rotating schedule, you can still estimate how much time you can devote to household tasks each week. The same applies whether you are a full-time student or you work and go to school.

So, go ahead and try to estimate how much time you can spend doing housework each week. Once you know how much time you have, you are now ready to create a plan or schedule for staying on top of housework.


One of the easiest ways to keep on top of housework is to create a housework or chores list and also a schedule for when you plan to do the different tasks. So, let’s start with creating a housework or chores list.

Below is a list of some common household tasks. Of course, your list will depend on how many kids you have, what kind of accommodation you live in (house or apartment), the size of your home, the ages of your kids, and some other factors. But, the list below covers some of the most common chores around the home.

  • Laundry (loading and unloading the washing machine and dryer, folding and putting away clean laundry)
  • Making beds, tidying up rooms, changing beddings
  • Washing and drying dishes (including loading and unloading the dishwasher)
  • Grocery shopping (whether online or instore)
  • Taking out the trash
  • Dusting and vacuuming
  • Lawnmowing
  • Scrubbing and cleaning floors
  • Cleaning bathrooms (scrubbing baths, sinks, and toilets)
  • Sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor
  • Wiping down countertops
  • Cleaning stovetop and inside the microwave
  • Replacing dish and hand towels
  • Cleaning out the fridge, getting rid of spoiled food, scrubbing out the fridge, etc.
  • Cleaning mirrors, windows
  • Reorganizing closets and storage cabinets

While there are a lot more household tasks I can include, some of them are big tasks or things that you do every quarter or twice a year, so I am leaving out things like washing your curtains or carpets.

As you can see, this is a very long list and it’s difficult to stay on top of them especially if you let them pile up or try to do them all at once. That’s why it’s so important to create a schedule and have a routine for tackling housework.

So, now that you have your chores list, it’s time to schedule your chores.


The easiest way to create a housework schedule is to determine the frequency of each task or whether they should be done daily, weekly, or monthly. Some tasks are more frequent than others (for example, washing dishes), while others can be done once a week or so.

So, take a look at your chores list and create a housework schedule using your list. Here’s is an example of a weekly housework schedule using the list I created above.

Monday: Wash dishes, replace hand towel and dish towel, make beds, pick up/tidy up rooms

Tuesday: Same as Monday, but you can add dusting and vacuuming, taking out the trash, laundry

Wednesday: Same as Monday, grocery shopping, cook dinner, wipe down countertops, sweep and mop kitchen floor

Thursday: Same as Monday, clean and scrub bathroom including bath, sink, and toilet. Dust and vacuum, laundry, take out the trash

Friday: Same as Monday, sweep and mop kitchen floor, laundry, scrub and clean other floors (like hallway)

Saturday: Same as Monday, meal prep and cook for the week, mow the lawn, clean and empty out the fridge, change beddings, take out the trash, clean mirrors, and windows

Sunday: Daily tasks, anything else you feel like doing or couldn’t get to during the week like organizing closets or storage cabinets.

As you can see, when you schedule your chores, they don’t look too overwhelming or daunting. Knowing what and how much you have to do each day is a great way for you to stay on top of your household tasks if you are really struggling with them.

You can use a planner to create your weekly schedule, then write out the day’s tasks on a to-do list. Remember to check things off after you complete them. Don’t worry if you can’t get to everything on your list, just focus on doing the best that you can.

Related: How to Create an Effective Student Mom Schedule


Another very easy and time-saving way to keep on top of your housework is to create a good housework routine. A daily routine can save you a lot of time and energy. The key is to be consistent with your routine.

So, what is a good housework routine?

A good housework routine is getting into the habit of doing some chores or tasks consistently without thinking too much about them. These are tasks you do every day or several times a day as part of your daily life. A good housework routine can help you stay ahead of your housework and prevent things from piling up.

Here are some examples of tasks you can incorporate into your daily housework routine.

  • Wash dishes immediately after meals
  • Clean and wipe down shower/bath after use
  • Pick up/tidy up after yourself
  • Wipe the microwave right after use
  • Cleaning the stovetop after use
  • Wipe kitchen countertops at the end of the day or a few times a day if there are spills
  • Replacing the hand towel or dish towel every day. (I change the hand towel right after the last shower is done)

A good housework routine keeps your home from getting too messy and saves you a lot of time cleaning and tidying up. So, think of some tasks you can do as part of your housework routine, and see if it doesn’t make a difference to your life.


If you have a spouse and kids that are old enough to do chores, you need to enlist their help. It makes no sense to try to do everything yourself when you can get some help.

I know some moms are single moms or have very young kids who can’t help out, but lots of moms have kids that are old enough to do chores. I am one of those moms who like doing things themselves, so it took me a while to start giving my kids chores. Don’t be like me.

There are age-appropriate chores for different ages, so make sure your kids and spouse are pulling their weight around the house. I understand you might face some resistance at the beginning, but you need to let your kids and husband know that you can’t do this alone.

Take a look at your chores list and assign some of the chores to your kids and husband. Examples of chores you can assign include:

  • Take out the trash
  • Make bed
  • Tidy up their room, pick up toys, pick up after themselves
  • Load and unload the dishwasher or washing machine
  • Make their own simple meals (especially lunches)
  • Vacuum
  • Feed the pet
  • Setting up and clearing the table after meals
  • Putting dirty clothes in the laundry basket

Like I said at the beginning, what chores you can assign depend on the ages of your kids and what chores they can do safely. The list above is a good starting place for assigning chores to your family members.


If you live in dread of running out of clean underwear, then you know how terrifying it can feel when you can’t keep up with the laundry. Having a huge pile of laundry to do is the stuff of nightmares so I can understand if you are freaking out about being behind.

I know some moms prefer to have a schedule for their laundry, but some moms prefer to do at least one load of laundry every day to stay ahead. You can choose whichever method works for you and your family.

How much laundry you have to do depends on how many kids you have. I have two kids and I find I have to do laundry every other day to stay ahead. That means, at least three times a week.

You can do your laundry while cooking, studying, grocery shopping, or late in the night. Some years ago, I used to do the laundry late at night because that was the only time I had. I am sure the neighbors hated me, but oh well! You gotta do what you gotta do, amirite?

So think of a laundry schedule that works for you and just get on with it. My kids have laundry baskets in their rooms so all their dirty clothes go in there. That means, I never find clothes strewn all over the floor or hanging in places where they shouldn’t be. Though, we still have to sort through the clothes before doing the laundry.

You can do this in your home too to help keep rooms tidy or you can use large laundry sorter baskets for different types of clothes. For example, one compartment for beddings, one for towels, whites, colored clothes, and black/very dark clothes.

Using laundry sorter carts or baskets means you don’t have to sort through the piles of clothes before doing the laundry. You just need to decide which pile you want to do and you are good to go. This can work if your kids are older and can do this themselves (but you can always use this system even with younger kids).

Your kids can help you load and unload the washing machine and dryer. Kids love to do this. You just have to show them how it’s done. Give them baskets to put the clean laundry in, and they can even help you sort them out after drying.

All hands on deck make light work, so use all the resources and help you have available!


The most effective way I know to stay on top of cleaning is to clean and pick up as I go through the day. I don’t wait for things to pile up or get too messy before I clean up. Yes, I still have to schedule some deep cleaning, but this system means my home is always reasonably clean and tidy.

You can teach young kids to clean up and pick up after themselves too. My kids have trash cans (no lids) in their rooms, so they know they have to use them. They are allowed to put anything in them except food or drink cans or bottles.

I give them rolls of trash bags and tell them to empty and replace the bags when they are full. You can do this even if you have young kids, you will just have to help them empty the trash cans when they are full.

Some other things I do to stay on top of cleaning include:

  • Washing dishes right after use (we are a family of three, so it’s not too bad)
  • Washing up while cooking
  • Cleaning the countertops and microwave every day
  • Wiping and cleaning up messes or spills as soon as they happen
  • Wiping down the bath/sink after each use
  • Dusting as often as possible
  • Asking for help
  • Lowering my standard
  • Not procrastinating. See it, do it is the rule I live by!

As you can see, I have a few tips and tricks for staying on top of laundry, and you are welcome to try some of them. Sadly, some husbands or kids won’t help unless you ask, so don’t be shy about asking for help. You can also create a cleaning schedule for everyone to follow.

Also, accept all offers or help and don’t be a perfectionist. Don’t try to micromanage your husband or kids, tell them what to do, show them how to do it, then leave them to get on with it. Not gonna lie, this is pretty hard to do especially if they have had a few mishaps or given you more work to do.

Anyway, just be open to asking and receiving help and don’t overwhelm yourself trying to do it all.


Everything in your home could be clean but if things are all over the place, it will make your home look messy and dirty. So, keeping your home organized (as much as possible) is also very important.

No matter how busy you are, there are some little things you can do to keep your home looking a bit organized. Here are some simple ways to do it.

  • Straighten up after you. Straighten your bed, pillows, or cushions on the sofa
  • Sort and get rid of stuff you don’t need. Don’t save things for “later.” Get rid of them once you are done with them.
  • Have a place for everything and return things to where they belong after use (for example, books go back on bookcases and not remain on the floor or table)
  • Limit how much stuff you bring into your home
  • Get into the habit of sorting and purging. Declutter as often as possible
  • Have a basket or box in the living room for your kids’ toys. Teach them how to pick up and return their toys after use.

Doing these little things consistently can help you stay on top of your housework even if you don’t have a lot of time to spend cleaning or organizing your home.

Related: How to be an Organized Mom in College


How to keep on top of housework while working full time is one of the biggest challenges moms face, and nowhere is this more evident than trying to cook and prepare dinner each night.

For busy moms in college (especially working moms), you probably don’t have the time to cook or prepare dinner from scratch every night, so the best solution for you is to meal prep and cook in big batches.

Your family doesn’t need to eat freshly-cooked meals every day. They can make do with leftovers or simple meals if that’s all that is available. Be wary of eating out or buying takeaways too often because this habit can be pretty expensive. So, first, consider other options.

Of course, there are times when you have no other option, feel like giving yourself a treat, or just need a break from cooking. Takeaways are perfect for those times, but the best and most consistent way to feed your family is to meal prep.

Here’s everything you need to know about meal preppping:

How to Meal Prep for Beginners: The Epic Step-By-Step Meal Prepping Guide

How to Meal Prep for the Week (tips to get started)

Don’t forget these awesome meal prep resources too!

Final thoughts on how to keep on top of housework

How to manage housework is one of the biggest challenges lots of moms face. Whether they work full time, go to school, or stay at home with their kids, there’s never enough time to get everything done.

But, you don’t need to despair or think you’re doomed to live in a messy house forever. You can stop struggling to stay on top of housework if you follow some of the tips and advice in this post.

You can learn how to keep on top of your housework whether you have a newborn, baby, or toddler. You just need a plan, daily routine, and a housework schedule to help you stay on track.

Finally, you can always hire a housekeeper if you are really busy and overwhelmed and you can afford to. Even if it’s to help with a specific task, or for a few hours every week or month. It’s a legitimate option and something you should consider.

Do you struggle to manage housework? What tasks do you struggle with the most?

Related mom and student articles

How to be an Organized Mom in College

How to Create an Effective Student Mom Schedule

How to Manage Housework (For Busy College Moms)

how to stay on top of housework

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