Tidying Up: Our Family’s 10-Minute Rule


Are you finished with your spring cleaning? Yeah, me neither. Dishes are piling up. Dust is accumulating around picture frames on shelves. The playroom is overfilling with broken toys and junk that you need to go through. Lingering spaghetti stains are covering the microwave. Is a cleaning service sounding pretty good about now, or do you want just to clone yourself a few hundred times? Before you break out your credit card, think about taking on these tasks in small increments of 10 minutes or so to tackle the long list.  

With kids now, it is a different ballgame on how and when you can clean up the ongoing mess these tiny humans create daily or those projects you say “you’ll get to tomorrow”. So how do you start? During nap time? After the kids are in bed? With the kids’ help? Send the kids to grandma’s house for a week? None of those options seem like they would be the best-case scenario, except for that last one…

So, what do these 10 minutes look like? 

Well, there are so many points in the day where you have just 10-15 minutes until another activity starts, why not use that time wisely rather than wasting it on your phone or watching T.V.? When I know my favorite show is about to begin in 10 minutes, I have a couple of options. I could sit on the couch and mindlessly watch whatever comes on before that, or I could use that time to get a small project done, like cleaning up dinner or pulling a few weeds in the garden. 

Tonight, my husband had the kids outside playing while I finished up dinner. I looked at the oven timer, and there was 10 minutes left before dinner was done. Although my heart (and butt) wanted to sit on the couch, I decided to go to the other room to grab the two baskets full of unfolded laundry that may have been sitting there for an embarrassing amount of time. I used those 10 minutes to fold and sort the laundry. I felt accomplished and fulfilled that I got one more thing off my long list of “to-dos.”  

laundry, 10 minutes

Productively using these 10 minutes has helped our family keep the house clean(er) regularly, so when I do need to spend an extended amount of time cleaning blinds or washing windows, I feel like I have the time to do it. Ha, who am I kidding…I never get to those. It has also taught my kids to pick up at random parts of the day, rather than just at the end of the day when every single toy is out, and the job is just too overwhelming to even start. When we have 10-minute clean up times, it gives us a chance to work as a family to complete a few tasks, so they hold responsibility around the house as well as ownership of our/their things. 

So what are some of my “go-to” 10-minute chores?  

  1. Load the dishwasher
  2. Clean the countertops & microwave
  3. Put a load of laundry in
  4. Fold and put away laundry
  5. Sweep/vacuum/mop floors (choose 1)
  6. Dust 
  7. Put away toys
  8. Interior windows (depends on room size)
  9. Pull weeds
  10. Go through foods in the pantry and/or refrigerator
  11. Change sheets
  12. Clean toilets/sinks
  13. Go through clothes in closets
  14. Pull weeds in the garden
  15. Meal plan

Remember you are human, you’re allowed to binge-watch Netflix. But every once in a while, use those 10-15 minutes to take on one room with one project in mind. If you think the task is going to take more than the 10-15 minutes you planned, pick a new one. This rule is not to be used to complete cleaning your entire house in a day. It gives you a chance to use those small moments in the day to complete these tasks, so hopefully, by the weekend, you can spend your time doing something you enjoy! 

What are some other chores/activities you can do in 10-minutes? Leave some ideas in the comments!