Seven Habits of Highly Successful Homemakers

Please welcome my guest today, Cheryl Hackett from Moms In Need of Mercy

I was not raised in a tidy home. It was so messy, in fact, that we could never have friends over. Now that I am raising my own family, I am determined to keep house differently—not perfectly, but decently. Those of us who did not learn effective housekeeping habits from our mothers are not at a complete loss; we can teach ourselves and slowly build habits that will enable success. As I study, I find successful housekeepers follow seven basic principles.

1. All children must be over 5 years old. Partly kidding, partly serious!

If your children are small, it will be harder to keep your house relatively tidy most of the time—but it’s not impossible. It just takes a little discipline.

2. Get up and get busy.

Successful housekeepers start the day with a plan—at least a rough one. They get a head-start on the day by rising before the children (when possible). They work hard and fast to get their jobs done so they can spend the rest of the day doing what they really want to do. Without a clear plan, one finds things to do all day long and never feels done.

3. Say yes when others say no.

Instead of seeing something that needs to be done and thinking “I’ll get to that later,” successful housekeepers respond, “Yes, I’ll do that right now.” This means they’re tidying up more often than the average housekeeper. Besides, most jobs rarely take as long as one thinks.

4. They’re ruthless when it comes to getting rid of stuff.

They would rather err on the side of getting rid of something that’s cluttering up space now—even if they have to buy it again later, instead of hanging onto it for that “maybe-someday” possibility later.

5. They also tend to own less stuff, and they’re wizards at organizing it all.

They understand the whole “a place for everything, and everything in its place” manifesto. If they’re out of places to store stuff, end of buying stuff. Period. Or they clear out stuff to make room for new stuff.

6. Successful housekeepers keep projects tightly controlled, so it never gets messy.

They use something and put it away immediately. This way, they never face a gigantic mess when they finish. They always keep the process under control.

7. They maintain a proper perspective.

One can keep a clean house at the expense of one’s family, but successful housekeepers remember that, above all, they are home-makers, and they give it their all out of love for their families. They always remember that the people within their homes are more important than the jobs and things within the home, and they know when to shift attention away from the jobs and onto their most cherished people.

By instituting even just one of these habits, you will see immediate changes in your housekeeping. Put more in practice as you master one. The habits slowly build on top of each other. Before you know it you’ll be headed toward success!

Cheryl writes a weekly homemaking post called “Messy Monday: Tips for Getting It Together,” where she shares humorous and helpful housekeeping hints at her blog, Moms In Need of Mercy. She also blogs about building strong marriages, raising boys (and feeding them!), saving money and time, homeschooling, and growing in grace through the seasons of life.

Filed under: Guest Bloggers


47 Responses to Seven Habits of Highly Successful Homemakers

  1. 1
    Melodie says

    This sounds so much like me it’s freaky. Hm. Well, at least I know how I do it now. Just never really thought about it before.

  2. 2
    Talina of Harvest of Daily Life says

    I wish I could pull this off. Just getting the hang of motherhood and never had a tidy place to begin with. I am kind of lazy.

    The baby-proofing is getting my butt in gear though. Must be tidy to keep baby safe, just not as good at it as the post says.

  3. 3
    Amber says

    My firstborn is turning 5 tomorrow. I am looking forward to a lightening of the load, now.

    And I am just learning about number 4. In the past I’ve spent way more time avoiding stuff than it would have taken to finish it. I can’t believe it took me this long to figure it out.

  4. 4
    Maine Mom says

    I love #1. So true!
    I have started the habit of waking up and showering before the kids get up and it makes a huge difference!
    I could use a plan for the day because I am guilty of doing things all day long and never feeling done.

  5. 5
    Patricia Linehan says

    I think I’m going to print this off and post it on my fridge. I love having 30 minutes to myself before the kids get up– if I don’t get that then the day goes downhill from there!

  6. 6
    Sarah Sarniak says

    These are so true. I work from home and strive to get it all done in the midst of getting my work done. But all of the points and the whole key to making it work is SELF-DISCIPLINE. This is the hard part, but if you can train yourself to be self-disciplined, you can accomplish anything. I’m still working on it. 🙂

  7. 7
    Heather says

    I love #1! Counting down the days until my oldest is 5! 😉

    All joking aside, I love the idea of putting people before your tasks in the home. My mom was wonderful and kept an immaculate home. However, she always struggled with this idea of putting her work aside to spend time with her “cherished people”. I have always strived to make sure my kids know that they are more important than the chores, even if it is just coloring in the Hello Kitty coloring book for 20 minutes. 🙂

  8. 8
    SheilaG says

    I am ever so good at #4. I can throw anything out–and if you need help, I’ll come over to your house because I love throwing other people’s stuff out, too!

    I’m really, really bad at #2, though. I find it hard to get an early start on the day. It’s something I’ve always struggled with–how to blog, exercise, read my Bible, get breakfast…It just doesn’t fit! I keep trying different combinations, but nothing feels right.

    So I often start late and a little grumpy, but everything sorts out in the end!

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum

  9. 9
    Tina says

    My mother’s house always looked clean, but things were just hidden away, not actually clean. My mother in law’s house has pathways thru the junk that she is always ‘getting ready for sale’ (she has a hallway that’s been unusable for about 4 years). Our house is usually a bit messy and I am guilty of not having a home for everything, something I hope to change when my kitchen remodel is finished. But after spending a week at my sister in law’s house, I, and my family, have gained some perspective. She, the daugther of above mother in law, is a clean freak. You cannot leave a coffee cup in the sink, a shoe outside of the the closet, nothing anywhere or she will freak out. After buying some groceries, we had to take everything out of the fridge and rearrange so it looked nice. You should see her cabinets! It was a very stressful week for my whole family, we were paniced the whole time that we would dirty something! I guess my point is, I try to live somewhere in between the two of them, not a clean freak but not carving out pathways to get around my house. My kids do have cleaning chores to teach responsibility and help ‘pull their weight’. But my top priority is that everyone is healthy & happy and if that means my house is not immaculate-so be it.

    • 9.1
      Cheryl @ Moms In Need of Mercy says

      Hi Tina,
      Unfortunately I can totally relate to your mother-in-law’s house, and I can also understand why your sister-in-law went so far to the other extreme. When someone’s raised in an environment like that, one usually ends up overcompensating toward the other side just to distance oneself from the experience. You’re right, the balance is in the middle. That’s why I blog about finding it (since I’m searching too)! 🙂

  10. 10
    Susie's Homemade says

    These are GREAT tips!! I institute most of them. I am hang on to more than I should which means I have to organize more but, no one is perfect, right?

  11. 11
    Elizabeth says

    Looks like I’ve got about four years until I can really get things done around here, then. SIGH!

    This is a wonderful list and a great inspiration for me. I hate feeling so unmotivated.

  12. 12
    Darlene says

    This is absolutely a WONDERFUL post. I think “most” of us live somewhere in the middle. Not a neat freak but alright if someone just “stopped” in. Sometimes you think the task is going to take longer or be harder than if you just get off your rump and get it done. So much nicer when things are clean and tidy. I just have to keep the laziness factor from getting me!!!….lol

  13. 13
    Jenny says

    What a great post! It refreshed my memory of a few things. Like you I grew up in a rather cluttered filled home. Mother, was not a very good manager of home. Although I believe she did the best she could. Recently as I talked with her she shared how bad she felt to be working to help support our family. So she did not want to make any one help. She regrets not teaching us how to better take care of our homes.

    I love your suggestions and will be dropping by your blog.

    • 13.1
      Cheryl @ Moms In Need of Mercy says

      Thanks Jenny. My mom was a single mother, although my dad lived nearby & was very involved in our lives. I, too, can understand how it was very hard for her. Like your mom, she did not make us do any housework; I really wish she would have taught us, though! However, I am learning a lot from my mother-in-law, tidy friends, and books. I try to share what most helps me at Moms In Need of Mercy,!

  14. 14
    Camille says

    I’d like to institute the “all children over 5” rule! LOL Thank you for letting me know that I’m not the only one with small children whose home is messier than I’d like! At about noon everyday I want to sit down and cry because I just CAN NOT keep up with the messes!!

  15. 15
    shirley rempel says

    Great blog post….with a 3 yr old and a 19 month plus three other children in my home during the day….its almost impossible to keep things tidy….but we do work on it…..playing with one thing at a time, definitely helps….labeled baskets and shelves so the kids know where to put things helps too….I also have a home management binder that helps me stay somewhat organized….lol….also I love to purge~

  16. 16
    shirley rempel says

    I have an award for you on my blog! Congrats

  17. 17
    Trixie says

    Hi Cheryl,

    Awesome post, I really appreciate all of the tips, but esp. #2. I hate that feeling of being busy all day but not feeling like I’ve done anything. I’m linking up to this on my blog.


  18. 18
    Janelle says

    Great post! #6 has always been a problem with me, even when I was a child. Now that I have three small children of my own, this tendancy leads to absolute chaotic home and lifestyle. Thank you for your encouragement. I’m ready to pick myself up, and try again…little by little.


  19. 20
    Jennifer says

    Ok, getting rid of stuff. I’m working on it! I have had plans for a few years to “have a yard sale” which never happens! We have given a bunch of it to the church and some kids clothes are going to a friend of mine. Thanks for the reminder! Something to strive for!!

  20. 21
    Jenn @ Beautiful Calling says

    Great and helpful post.

    “Without a clear plan, one finds things to do all day long and never feels done.”

    That hits home as often I struggle with this very thing. I’m making progress in so many areas but when I am not careful, I slip into my old mentality and that statement describes it perfectly.

  21. 22
    Jenn says

    Uhhh….I am the mom who won’t let my son have friends over….I hate living in constant chaos, though, and I am trying to gain some control over our household. This post is REALLY helpful! Thank you

  22. 23
    Jenni @ DrMomEssentials says

    Since I have 3 kids 5 yrs and younger (and 3 more older then 5), I’ve had to get really good at the other items on this list. I must confess, I am still dejunking after years of yard sales, but I am determined to simplify! If there aren’t anymore little toys around, there’s no way they can be left on the floor, right?

    I’m getting there! Thanks for your helpful, inspiring tips!

  23. 24
    Health says

    I’m getting there! Thanks for your helpful, inspiring tips!

  24. 25
    Allyson says

    I’m relieved to see that I’m doing something right. A little crazy how MUCH this entire post described my cleaning style. I really can’t function in a state of chaos AT ALL. So, even though I have 3 kids 4 and under at home all day, I can keep the messes to a minimum by just cleaning as we go. The truest is #6, it makes doing anything in the kitchen soo much better! My mother in law lives in a constant dump hole because she NEVER puts anything away in the kitchen. So, a week later there is still stuff out from the cake she made last week. It’s so gross! Anyway, fun post, thanks.

  25. 26
    Becky says

    My kids (teenagers) roll their eyes at me all the time. But they are always telling me how messy their friends houses are. I’ve always said, it takes less time/work to keep things neat and clean than it does to always have a disaster to make your way through. Then if you have a day that you’re sick or busy, nothing is too hard to catch up on. Thanks for the post!

  26. 28
    Handy Man, Crafty Woman says

    Great list. Not everyone is born knowing how to be a good home maker. One thing that has really really helped here is to declutter, declutter, declutter. Like MAD. Less “stuff” is less stuff to clean around!

  27. 29
    MeghanM says

    GREAT post!

  28. 30
    Valerie says

    This is MY motto! Wow! I strive to keep the house in its perfect place or at least within 5 minutes of being cleaned up. And I sure love to purge, purge, purge. I am no pack rat! I need to work more on #7, though I’m really not that bad at it. I just wish I had more arms and more hours in a day…I have a 7 week old (that has to be held ALL day) and a 2.5 year old.

    • 30.1
      Amanda D. says

      Do you baby wear? That could be the solution for your 7 week old. I know it’s not always ideal to baby wear, like when you’re cooking, but it might give some relief. HTH

  29. 31
    Smockity Frocks says

    I LOVED reading this! I also grew up in a very cluttered home and could never have friends over.

    I try to keep things tidy, but often get overwhelmed with my 7 (going on 8) children. This gives me motivation to try harder!

    (By the way, one Bible verses I think of often which pertains to this post: “Where there are no oxen the crib is clean.”) 🙂

  30. 32
    Sandy/AboutOne says

    This was a great post!
    #5. They also tend to own less stuff, and they’re wizards at organizing it all

    This is something I need to work on! I am a packrat at heart and have to fight it everyday! 🙂

  31. 33
    Nony (A Slob Comes Clean) says

    Thanks for this. I’ve been “figuring myself out” on my blog, and working on getting my home in order for a while now. I basically answered “Yes . . . yes!” to each of your points.

  32. 34
    Melinda says

    Oh, I needed this! I *so* need to work on #2 & #4. I’m doing ok with #2 lately, but I have got to start throwing things out!!

  33. 35
    Rochelle says

    Really helpful, thanks!

  34. 36
    Kristin says

    These tips are even more important for those of us who work outside of the home in additon to homemaking. I go back to work in five days (oh no!!!) and that will *force* me to get up before our children. Right now, my three-month-old is my alarm clock.

    How do you negotiate with a spouse who likes to hang on to stuff, “just in case”?

  35. 37
    Kelli @ 3 Boys and a Dog says

    Great post and so very true.

    I hate to housekeep… granted, I do go through periods of being a whirling-dervish (LOVE THAT SAYING LOL), but for the most part, I would rather play. But, if you just put stuff away when you use it, life is SOO much easier. Can’t wait for the boys (yes, DH is included in that) to learn this concept. 🙂

  36. 38
    Lenetta @ Nettacow says

    I need to stitch these on a pillow… one of my Mid-Year Resolutions/Lent improvements is to improve my housekeeping. Thanks so much! I linked to this on my weekly roundup, the post is under my name.

  37. 39
    lynn says

    Great post! Thanks for sharing your housekeeping tips 🙂

  38. 40
    sue nj says

    Wow, I am surprised at how many others grew up in homes too cluttered to invite friends over. That was me, and sadly, I have just continued the tradition. When my kids want to have a friend come over, I have to do major cleaning and tidying. I think I am just lazy, and I’m going to try to put an end to this disarray. I’d love to stop worrying that someone might “stop by” and Ill have to find a reason to not let them in!!

  39. 41
    Los angeles maids says

    I have a 3yr old kid. He has accumulated a lot of toys. He is free to scatter them in the living room during his playtime but he is also the one who puts them back in his toy box when his done playing with them.


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