The 1950s and '60s were the glory days of home appliances and timesaving gadgets - for the first time, labor saving devices made it easy for the average person to cook and clean. Refrigerators and freezers, dish-washers and electric can-openers, electric blenders and vacuums, and yes, even the washing machine, made household chores less of an all-day activity and liberated women to take on extra work outside of the home. Nevertheless, as we know too well, these household chores still took time.
Today, we have all of these appliances and more, but time is more precious than it's ever been. Because of technological advances - including mobile phones and wireless internet - we can do more, so we do do more, though it's not all self-imposed. Clients, friends, and our jobs demand more of us. In households of two people, it is increasingly necessary for both parties to work to maintain quality of life, and parents hardly have a moment to themselves - not exactly time they want to spend doing housework.
While celebrities praise the benefits of large families and healthy living, they have a maid and a nanny behind the scenes - yet household chores are a fact of life for all of us mere mortals. So how can you preserve your free time, but still keep your house from showing up on one of those 'hoarding' television programs?
There's probably no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are a number of ways to speed up the housework - though be warned, some of these ideas will work for others, but not for you, so test and see which works best with your personality, lifestyle and goals.
Multi-Task with Something Fun
Speaking of not having enough time, who says you can't clean and do something else at the same time? There are a number of fitness plans and workout recommendations online for those who want to get fit and do the housework at the same time (recommendations include moving quickly, tightening your abdominal muscles while mopping, doing plies while cooking dinner or doing the dishes, or flexing your glutes and thighs when bending down to pick up toys).
For others, cleaning is a good excuse to listen to music, take in a favorite podcast, revel in an audio book, or catch up on a particular radio program. For many, the cleaning goes by quicker and feels doubly productive (or possibly even relaxing) when combined with exercise or some other entertainment.
Clean a Little Every Day to Save Time in the Long Run
This is one of those counter-productive maxims in life that annoyingly often holds true - jobs don't need to be as big as we make them out to be if we chip away at them gradually rather than try to fell the tree with one swing of the axe. In addition to 'picking up' around the house for a few minutes of every day, try creating a rota, with one day dedicated to spending 10-15 minutes wiping down the bathrooms, one day to hoovering the lounge, one day doing a load of the most important laundry in the washing machine, etc.
Spending 10-15 minutes per day accomplishing some household chore can save you from losing an entire Saturday or Sunday afternoon to housework later in the week. If you have kids, don't forget to include them in the picking up by giving them weekly or daily chores to teach them responsibility, and to help you in the process. If you need help in this regard, Mary Poppins is always a great source of inspiration.
Have the Right Tools
Sometimes the right tools can make cleaning so much easier. For example, there are dish-scrubbing brushes with tubular handles, which holds dishwashing liquid and releases it as you scrub. They're perfect for food build-up in hard-to-reach places in pans and glasses. Even if you have a dishwasher, it's worth the small investment to get one.
Also, having the right vacuum cleaner can make hoovering so much easier than struggling with a hand-me-down that takes an incredible amount of energy to push and only occasionally seems to do its job - and if you think your hoover isn't working, make sure you replace the filter and hoover bag for stronger suction. Have a look at what jobs you need doing around the house and then determine if there is a better tool that can make that job significantly easier and quicker.
Amandine Fontaine is a France born, well-travelled and now full time mum of two girls. Amandine loves to share her experiences of raising Aurore and Philip and sharing tips with other moms.