Slummy Mummy’s amazing, time-saving housework tips!

It is a few weeks ago now that I confessed to some of my most secret habits, including occasional hiding of dirty dishes in cupboards, so I thought it was time to justify my Slummy Mummy status by revealing some more of my slummiest habits.

I love reading other people’s confessions. There is something fascinating and comforting about reading other people secrets – the blog equivalent of reading Heat magazine. Just when you are feeling inadequate and lonely, you read that other women feel the same, that even celebrities sometimes go out with chipped nail varnish, and suddenly the world feels like a better place.

I felt particularly vindicated today reading confessions from Ella at Most/Least – what a relief to read I’m not the only mother who sometimes prefers writing about her children to actually having to speak to them…

Today though, I want to focus on housework. I know… GROAN…. who enjoys housework? Well not me. Of all the responsibilities in my life – being a single parent, holding down a variety of jobs, not to mention a nice selection of voluntary roles, housework really is my lowest priority. In fact, I suspect I became a school governor just as an excuse not to clean the toilet. So when my juggling gets tricky, the first ball to crash to the floor is always the cleaning one.

There are some forms of household chores I enjoy. Arranging my books in colour order for instance is always a pleasant way to pass an afternoon, especially if I have a particularly pressing deadline that I am trying to avoid. I’m not sure that tasks like sorting my make-up into pretty boxes really count as housework though…

So if you are looking to save time and effort around the house, here are my top five tips. Those with a fetish for cleanliness or who are easily disturbed should switch back to facebook now:

1. Crumbs – they get everywhere don’t they? My house is always full of bits. Sometimes I feel motivated enough to pick some of them off the floor (I don’t have a Hoover) but then what to do with them? The kitchen is too far away, I have yet to install a bin in the living room. So when you’re pressed for time, throw your crumbs behind the sofa.

2. Children’s toys – again, they get everywhere. And Belle gets as much fun out of a toilet roll or a piece of cling film as anything else. When the toys threaten to overwhelm you and you can’t be bothered fighting to get the kids to tidy them up, just collect them all up off the floor in a black bag and take them to Oxfam. It will make them appreciate what they have left. Honest.

3. Dishes – now we know I sometimes hide them, but this is obviously only a temporary solution. My least favourite dishes are the ones my teen brings down at intervals from her bedroom – cereal bowls encrusted with fossilised coco-pops, mugs stiff with mould. What to do? Just put them in the bin. Really. Out of sight and all that…

4. Baths – yuk yuk yuk. I particularly dislike cleaning that involves getting my hands wet. If you can’t face all that bending and stretching but need to scrub the tub, children’s bath time are ideal. While they are in the bath just give them some soap and a cloth and get them to clean the tiles and other surfaces. You might want to give them a rinse down afterwards to get rid of scum (the child, not the tiles), but this is much simpler than cleaning the whole bath.

5. Beds – sick of changing sheets? Ditch your partner. Become single and suddenly the need to change your sheets more than a few times a year goes out the window. Tada!

So that’s it. Slummy Mummy’s guide to housework. Some valuable advice there I’m sure you’ll agree. Do share your own time-saving tips!

Photo credit: suesviews



  1. 9 February, 2010 / 5:44 pm

    Absolutely brilliant. Recently my daughter got so fed up with me nagging her in the mornings to stop doing her hair (an hour and half) and actually have breakfast, she decided that eating her cereal before she goes to bed counts as an early breakfast. – I think my favourite confession though, is one I read once; it was how a mother sent her kids to bed in their school uniforms to save time the following morning

    • 10 February, 2010 / 10:08 am

      Haha! That is a VERY early breakfast. I like her style! My youngest quite often asks if she can put her uniform on before bed so she can lie in – I have clearly passed on the slummy gene…

  2. 9 February, 2010 / 7:52 pm

    I don’t clean ovens. Just can’t see the point. Occasionally I pay the lovely K to clean my house and she looks horrified at the state of it. Nah. Don’t sweat the housework. No one will ever be getting to the final furlong saying “I’ve so many domestic-chore related regrets.”

    • 10 February, 2010 / 10:09 am

      Ovens are just the silliest thing to clean – they have a door to hide the filth! That would be like cleaning the inside walls of your cupboards.

  3. Jane
    9 February, 2010 / 8:01 pm

    You know what they say: “Women with immaculate houses lead dull lives.”

  4. Rachel
    9 February, 2010 / 8:28 pm

    Oh these are brilliant. I think I love you.

  5. 10 February, 2010 / 9:58 am

    You are my soul sister and my sister’s soul sister too come to think of it….LOVE the tips.

  6. 10 February, 2010 / 5:23 pm

    Ok I have a few more to add to your list Slummy, after a long career avoiding housework –

    1) Don’t bother cleaning dog, just get her to jump in when you’re having a shower (yes that did happen!)
    2) Don’t buy Duplo it gets stuck in the vacuum cleaner. Buy lego they woosh right up the hose very tidily
    3)Always dress for dinner with friends accentuating lots of cleavage. No one will notice the housework.
    4) Mops can simultaneously clean walls, floors and small children on floors!
    5) Buy picnic set and throw away after use. No dishes!
    Oooooh I could go on, but merciful am, I won’t. :-)

  7. 11 February, 2010 / 11:08 pm

    I throw my crumbs in the pot plant. Over time they form an interesting crust on the surface of the mud. Or collect them on my socks throughout the day and then just turn the socks inside out when you take them off, putting them in the washing bin. Oh what a bunch of dirty clarts we all are, makes me feel better that I am not alone.

  8. 12 February, 2010 / 7:10 am

    My mum totally sent toys left out to local charities, and it worked. Twenty years later, I always clear my toys from the floor before bed.

  9. 3 March, 2010 / 11:41 am

    thanks for the link.

    you and I are clearly soulmates because I also think that arranging my books in colour order is a very important chore!

    • 3 March, 2010 / 11:45 am

      It is! Far more important to have nicely co-ordinating book cases than to have clean toilets.

  10. meg
    9 March, 2010 / 12:14 am

    As a single parent of a 6year old daughter I run my own hairdressing salon an am secretary of the parents council I am a complete slummy mummy I have hidden dishes I think I’m allergic to the hoover as I am on my 3rd one this year as I keep blowing them up I don’t iron tried it once wit a glass of wine 2 bottles later ironin looked worse and breakfast is toast in the car on the way to school an if I haven’t washed her face usually its a spit in a hankie which she hates! I’m glad I’m not the only one

    • 2 April, 2010 / 1:04 pm

      Great confessions!

      I have been known to spit on a bit of tissue to clean the dining table. I’m sure spit is full of antibodies or something…

  11. juanita martin
    2 June, 2010 / 12:40 am

    you people are nasty! come on now it dont take much to vac or sweep wash dishes or anything of that sort.

    • 2 June, 2010 / 4:05 am

      Well no, isn’t doesn’t take much, but it’s so DULL!

  12. Max bentin
    2 June, 2010 / 12:46 am

    you people Are a disgrace to human to life. people like you should not be able to have children you should be reported to child services this is just plain gross.

    • 2 June, 2010 / 4:05 am

      hahahaha! You are right Max. I feel ashamed now. I am off to turn myself in.

  13. christine
    29 November, 2011 / 1:40 am

    tired of picking up tiny toys, get the shop vac out schhlloooph!

  14. Angie
    31 March, 2012 / 1:16 pm

    Very funny, thanks for the laugh. Not really what I was looking for when I entered “housework time saving tips”into google tho ;)

    • 3 April, 2012 / 7:58 am

      Haha! I do look at the search terms people use to find me and then sometimes feel bad – I’m sure most of the time I’m really NOT what people were looking for!

    • Amy
      3 July, 2012 / 8:42 am

      Funnily enough I googled the same thing, and ended up here.

  15. Amy
    3 July, 2012 / 8:41 am

    I tell my kids ( 3 and 5 ) that if they don’t get their toys put away before dinner I’ll just have to hoover them up. After about 5 minutes and they haven’t done much I say, well I’ll guess I’ll just have to get the hoover out then and I start hoovering around them getting closer and closer. Never seen them tidy up so fast.

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  17. 27 June, 2013 / 11:16 pm

    I realize that this is an old post but I couldn’t resist. Just started a blog of my own a bit ago and have been trying to spend a little bit of time each day finding other blogs (mostly other moms AND other’s with MS) I have been enjoying many of your posts…but #5 on this list had tears in my eyes. I went through a divorce about 2.5 years ago, and truth be told, not sure after that first year in my house, when I put the x-mas flannel sheets on the kids beds during the holidays, that they have been washed since….I do know that they are still there…so that would mean 2 years:( Bummer that it supposed to get up to 85 degrees this coming weekend:)

  18. Fiona jk42
    15 January, 2018 / 8:58 pm

    When having guests over for dinner, don’t turn on any of the lights, just have candles. This hides lots of dirt.

  19. Tanya
    16 January, 2018 / 11:21 am

    Brilliant tips

    • Jo Middleton
      16 January, 2018 / 12:01 pm

      Thanks Tanya :-)

  20. Heather Cain
    16 January, 2018 / 3:38 pm

    my oldest confession is whilst I was at school, because my parents didn’t have heating, my bedroom was soooo cold that I used to wear my school blouse to bed so that I didn’t have to put on a cold one in the mornings! My newest confession is smelly work shoes! I need to wash them (Skechers are soooo comfy on a 12hr nightshift at the hospital) but its easier said than done in this weather getting them dry again, so in the cupboard they go for hubbie to keep moaning about them stinking, and me not getting near enough to anyone for them to smell my feet at work.

    • Jo Middleton
      17 January, 2018 / 10:55 am

      Hahah! I love that – wear your clothes to bed to warm them up :-)

  21. Deborah MacKenzie
    16 January, 2018 / 8:52 pm

    Thank you! You have given me such a laugh. I try and keep up with housework – sadly I am a bit of a perfectionist and want things done my way.
    Toys – I had a system of, only so many out at one time, the others were in a storage box out of sight. Then every couple of weeks I would swap them about – they enjoyed them far more.. I used to also only let Lego be played with just before bed when it was quiet time and calm down. It was picked up afterwards ready for the next day, little models put aside.
    Dishes – we often have our dinner on paper plates – bin works really well!
    Bathroom – the worst place in the world to clean! But have got into the habit of doing just what you say……

    Love your write ups.. they always bring a smile and teach me a thing or two.

    • Jo Middleton
      17 January, 2018 / 10:56 am

      Thanks Deborah – glad you found my tips helpful :-D

  22. Leila Benhamida
    16 January, 2018 / 9:40 pm

    So funny. I always tell my daughter to pick up her toys or I will bin them. She usually run and pick them up as fast as she can and always tells me I am a mean mum

  23. Rachel Craig
    16 January, 2018 / 10:42 pm

    Why iron when body heat eases out most creases. Oh! I do hate ironing, so avoid it as much as is possible.

    • Jo Middleton
      17 January, 2018 / 10:57 am

      I’m totally with you on this one Rachel, although I’m in the process of writing a post about advice you give your children and my daughter has written a bit saying creases really DON’T ‘fall out’ despire me telling her this for years :-)

  24. Sharon Freemantle
    17 January, 2018 / 12:03 am

    Use baby oil to clean stainless steel. Wipe it over the stainless steel then with a clean cloth or kitchen roll and buff it up. Then any marks can be buffed out.

    • Jo Middleton
      17 January, 2018 / 10:58 am

      Thanks for the tip Sharon!

  25. Katrina Adams
    17 January, 2018 / 9:06 am

    Brilliant read. Gave me a giggle this morning…whilst avoiding housework.

  26. William Gould
    17 January, 2018 / 9:29 am

    Ha-ha! Brilliant! Sounds just like me when I moved into my first house on my own!

  27. Susan B
    17 January, 2018 / 5:10 pm

    I really enjoyed reading that. It made me smile. Thank you!

  28. Lynda Jones
    21 January, 2018 / 11:10 pm

    Brilliant blog, where have you been all my life, its like a light bulb has gone off in my head :D everything makes so much sense

  29. Karen Usher
    23 January, 2018 / 9:46 pm

    HHAHAHA these gave me such a good laugh, another one you can add to your list, because my children are really good at doing this, when finished with a wrapper from choc/biscuit etc, instead of getting up and putting it in the bin, just stuff it down the side of the sofa or better yet yell “MummmmmmmM” and Mum comes and takes it and puts it in the bin….

    • Jo Middleton
      24 January, 2018 / 10:13 am

      Fortunately the sofa stuffing things seems never to occurred to mine – instead they just leave little piles of rubbish near where they are sat. I’m assuming they think they are in a cafe??

  30. Lynda Graham
    24 January, 2018 / 3:17 pm

    Love this – made laugh, some great comments and tips
    Whilst I love a tidy, clean, scenty house and do like to clean – along to music!!!
    My waste of time chore is dusting. Ive used every micrrofibre cloth going , all it does is move it and then nature and science float it back. again. I use a microffbre sock or glove it collects dust easier and do it daily.
    …. and my motto to house is ” It will be uprght and standing when I’m not !!!”

  31. Lisamarie McLaughlin
    27 January, 2018 / 7:19 am

    Wow brilliant thanks for the tips
    Just amazing

  32. Catherine Furness
    28 January, 2018 / 9:41 pm

    A woman I can relate to! The far side of my bedroom is a complete dumping ground in my house and I have to literally climb over my husband to get into bed – sometimes giving him the wrong idea completely!!!! This in itself should be reason enough to have a clear out – but what can I say, them episodes of Peaky Blinders won’t watch themselves!!

  33. Ruth Davies
    29 January, 2018 / 2:11 pm

    Brilliant not much of a cleaner i draw the line i have to descale the kettle if you call that house work

  34. Keri Jones
    30 January, 2018 / 11:23 am

    Love this! Can’t believe I haven’t read it before. I read the whole post and all the comments- I’m now firmly in my ass groove on the sofa & so the housework will have to wait ;)
    Recently I’ve started to hate doing the washing (clothes), it’s not like I have to do them by hand. I just can’t be bothered taking them from the washing machine to the tumble dryer which is in a completely different room.
    Love your blog so much xx

    • Jo Middleton
      31 January, 2018 / 10:59 am

      Thanks Keri :-)

  35. Michelle Wild
    31 January, 2018 / 8:46 pm

    I wish my mother-in-law would read this she’d think I was ace then ha ha. She doesn’t beleive that folk in London don’t clean their windows, I know because I lived there over 20 years’ and there are no window cleaners. Life’s too short I favour the Quentin Crisp lifestyle.

  36. 31 January, 2018 / 9:20 pm

    Gosh my thoughts as well. I absolutely hate housework . The worse thing for me is ironing I would honestly rather clean toilets !

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