Guidelines to maintain your home as a 9-5 parent

Your clarity of mind depends on it!

Adulting isn’t easy.

I left the nest a little earlier than the standard educational system expects.

Fortunately, I had already cultivated the skills I needed to take care of myself.

I began at the age of 6 (like any good Asian kid if not younger).

There’s one rule that was hammered into me from the start:

“A place for everything.

Everything in its place.”

It’s the key to keeping my household decently presentable with

  • 4 cats

  • 2 dogs

  • 2 kids

  • 1 wife

  • and a partridge in a pear tree

Today is short and sweet…and hopefully serves you in improving, enhancing, or overhauling your maintenance routine.

So let’s get to it…

Single vs. Family Homes

When I was single and in full control of my environment, I honed this to an art form that eventually became second nature.

  • Scan

  • Queue

  • Execute

In every space in my dorm room in college…

In every room in my apartment in graduate school…

In every room in my first home in my first 9-5 career job…

I scaled and refined this process until I could keep the house neat, clean, and tidy in under 5 hours a week for routine maintenance.

Then I got married and had a family…

Needless to say, this was the extreme stress test for my system.

I’m glad to say that it works quite well (with some compromises):

  • Cleanliness became the primary focus

  • I forced myself to lower my tidiness standards to “status quo”

  • Neatness also took a back seat and became only necessary in well-lived parts of the house

The best part about this process is that…this is the absolute WORST it will get.

As kids grow up and the pets mature, both groups have moved beyond the teething stage now.

I might eat these words when puberty hits my kids, though…

Here’s to the indoctrination that I went through so that dividends pay off, though!

The grand irony is that my parents are now hoarders of all of my of things…hopefully I don’t pick up that habit later in life so much for my kids.

It’s all digital anyway (which I will share about that system when I figure that one out!)

Read on…

Space…the Final Frontier

Here’s the real point of this process…maximizing usable space and minimizing funny angles and clutter.

I’ve slipped a few times since marriage and had my environment be described as “junky” by my wife.

She’s also a neat, tidy, and organized person when she’s not overrun by the rabble that is our family.

Here are a few rules for the road that currently serve us well:

  1. Everything must be maintained for utility and cleanliness. ESPECIALLY the kitchen stuff.

  2. Everything must be visible on first glance no matter where it’s located. (We’ve slipped up on this a few times.)

  3. Everything must have a spot that it can be designated to reside in so that we can find it at a moment’s notice. (My kids now go through things so this is truly a challenge now.)

These three rules keep everything out of the way and safe for our children.

They don’t have any sense of space whatsoever and willingly wander into anything and anyone that happens to cross their paths before they bounce away.

The system helps with this nugget:

Most of the dangerous stuff is cleared away with minimal chance of becoming a thing.

We can walk through the house at night without tripping over anything.

We can fight for peace of mind more effectively.

If I were to say anything about the process, I’d say that my mind is now rather like the queue you see in any “Sims” game, and there are always at least four or five actions to do as I scan each room.

I only execute on the whole thing when the family falls asleep, though.

There is absolutely no sense in cleaning up after everyone all the time unless it obstructs us from running the house during the day.

Otherwise, it’s a game of whack-a-mole that drains your energy to the point where you can’t even begin to clean when it’s time.


Decision fatigue rapidly sets in for young parents.

Oh and this significantly improves your memory as well.

The Takeaway

So to recap:

Scan the room.

Queue the actions.

Execute when appropriate.

Set your standards for tidiness, cleanliness, and neatness according to your stage in life…

Even Marie Kondo, the queen of organization, concedes that children have helped her to relax her standards in her own home for the time being.

I have no doubt that her kids will pick up a few tips and that they’ll probably be featured as her assistants should she return to the limelight.

Here’s this week’s actionable exercise:

Walk through your house.

  • Scan each room.

  • Note the state and any actions that would immediately free up space and improve the “feel”.

  • Execute and record how long it took the first time around.

Building your own system for improving and maintaining your environment has a tremendous positive psychological impact.

This is the first exercise in self-preservation.

Thought of the week:

An Inspirator is always tinkering and improving on their systems…

I’ll keep sharing more insights like this one…and I truly hope that this will help you in your living environment!

Whew! Something burning down in the mines…Jimmy must have left the lantern next to the stack of firewood again.

Gotta run!


P.S. I’m assuming you’re not a millionaire and have a modest home.

P.P.S. Do you have a house elf?