Secrets To My 15 Minute Clean Up

If you read my updated Day In The Life post, you saw that I mentioned doing a quick 15 minute clean up before Matt gets home from work. Sometimes I’ll do it before Jesse gets home from school if Zac really messes things up or right before bedtime so we can enjoy a clean and quiet house when the kids fall asleep! Anyway, I’m about to share with you my tips and tricks! This also works if you’re having friends over soon and don’t want your house to look like a war zone.


Why 15 minutes?

Mainly this is a 15 minute clean up because any longer than that and the kids will have started messing things up again. So I start about 15-20 minutes before Matt gets home so he can actually see the clean before everything gets ruined again.   It’s also a good amount of time you can try to dedicate without getting burnt out.



This is NOT the time to start projects. Do NOT get sucked in to alphabetizing books, swapping out your kids clothes that don’t fit for the next size up, reorganizing photos, or deep cleaning. Those are weekend projects ok, guys? This is a quick fix for maximum visual cleanliness. No one is going to lick your floors (I hope) so it just needs to appear clean! LOL. Commit 15 minutes and go hard. Are you ready?


Bins, Boxes, Buckets, Baskets and Bags! 

The first big tip is to get things off the floor. The easiest way to do this is to have stuff to throw things in. We have a toy kitchen and it’s food gets ALL over the house. So I grab everything toy-kitchen-specific and toss it in a bag (or stuff it in the cabinets and close it up.) Everything else goes in the big toy box. Clothes all go in the dirty clothes baskets. Dirty dishes can sit in the sink for now. Trash gets thrown, you guessed it, in the trash. If you have multiple floors, toss things that go on other floors in a basket on the stairs to take up on your next trip up – don’t keep going up and down! And don’t worry about things looking pretty as long as it’s away in something and off the floor. This is the most time consuming part of the 15 minutes and I usually dart around like I’m on Supermarket Sweep- which brings me to my next topic of going for the big stuff:


Straighten Up The Sofa

My kids love to have the pillows, cushions and throws that we keep around the sofa in complete disarray. Straightening that up takes like 4 seconds but makes a huge impact on the look of the room because the biggest things are where your eyes go first. Fluff up the pillows and fold the throws to keep on the sides of the couch (for getting cozy during nextflix binges-obviously.) This goes for love seats, lounger chairs and ottomans too. Ta-da! Your house is already looking so much cleaner! AND there are places for your guests/your hard working SELF to sit down!


Stacks On Stacks

Is your mail, coloring books, stray pages of drawings, bills, school work, magazines and other shenanigans covering your tables or counters? Stack it all up. Don’t spend time going through it. If you didn’t need to look at it until now, it can wait 15 more minutes. I’ll make a kid stack and put it in Jesse’s room (he has an arts bin for all this mess- so it goes in there!) and an adult stack that I put on our dresser. Even if it stays on the table or on the corner of the counter where it was, it’s in a nice neat stack now, and you can SEE the table! Secret Tip: move everything back to the corners of your counters. Push back all of the appliances and stuff on your counters to the very back to give you visually more empty counter space.


Distracting The KIDS

This part is key. Otherwise you’re probably going to be turning around and repeating what you just did. I like to have my bigger kid focused on (read: complaining about) ONE task. Usually picking up his clothes or a specific type of toy like his legos (both going into big bins.) Usually this task is something that isn’t crucial in case he has a total drama meltdown and ends up not cleaning anything at all. As long as he doesn’t spend your 15 minutes messing things up. The little one I usually sit on the couch and take the vacuum out so he just sits and stares at it for a while because he’s not sure if it will turn on or not. LOL! Or I put him in something he can’t escape from like his high chair or a walker. If all else fails- screen time. *angel chorus*

I don’t advise using nap time for this clean up. Nap time is the precious time we get for important things like going potty, eating food for ourselves and mindlessly scrolling social media. That is YOU time.


Bonus Points!

Ok, so your tables and counters are mostly cleared, your floors are hopefully free of clutter and your couch is sittable! With any extra time left, here are some things I like to do to spruce up the place a little more. Feel free to pick one or go for the gold and do them all!


Smells And Sounds!

We used to be all about candles before we had kids and don’t even talk to me about fabreeze (aka my college-days solution to cleaning.) But NOW I love my safe and healthy Young Living Diffuser! Depending on the time of day, I either go with a peppy blend of Lemon and Purification, or my favorite relaxing duo: Stress Away and Lavender.  Either way, a fresh wave of smells will really fix up the room. Turning the TV off and putting on a fun playlist (like This Is Your Year on Spotify through Alexa!) also sets the mood too (unless your kids are quietly watching it- then DEFINITELY keep that puppy ON.)


Wipe Down

This goes with nice smells: wipe down your counters, tables or coffee table with your favorite cleaner. This makes things SMELL clean, and it’s a quick way to get crumbs, smudges, smashed bananas, coffee stains and what have you, off the newly visible surfaces! Secret Tip: Toss some lemon slices into the garbage disposal to freshen that up too!


A Quick Vacuum.

To be fair, we live in a smaller condo, so it doesn’t take MUCH time to do our floors, but even just quickly running it over the big parts of the floor gets those fancy vacuum lines and fluffs up the carpet a little. Again, don’t get too hung up on details and corners.


Last Second Tidy Up

The places where people will look when walking in to your house can stand a little extra TLC at the end if you have time. Stand at your door and see what looks astray and go there first. Straightening up the shoe rack or making sure all of the books on the book case are standing up and facing out makes you look like you have your life together- even if you don’t!


TIMES UP! Enjoy.

I hope you can catch your breath and enjoy your beautiful, mostly clean living space for a few minutes! Pour yourself some coffee or wine and put your feet up for a minute because you earned it. High five.









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Hey there!

I'm Emily! A photographer, coffee zombie, car singer, baby snuggler, snackaholic boymom serving the Maryland and DC area! Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to click around and check out all sorts of posts about my fun sessions, behind the scenes secrets and snippits of my personal life! Grab a cup of coffee and stay a while- or come hang out with me on your favorite social medias!

I know we're all trying to be healthier, so when I DO happen to treat myself to lattes, I'll go with a Nonfat Caramel Macchiato (and sub Toffee Nut for Vanilla!) 


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