Learn how to create an old-fashioned homemaking routine that works for the modern world.
Table of contents
- 💕 First thoughts
- My vintage housekeeping schedule: weekly theme days
- Some other themed days to add to your own routine:
- Putting it all together
- Want a printable to help you organize your routine?
- If it makes your life harder, something is wrong
Homemaking schedules are all over the internet, but today I want to focus on how to create your own, custom homemaking routine. Using a combination of vintage ideas and new tricks, you will have a daily, weekly, and seasonal household work schedule.
I have had two approaches to homemaking schedules over the years: not having one, and doing things as needed, and having one, obsessing over it, and letting it rule my life.
💕 First thoughts
stop aimlessly housekeeping
When I first started out as a homemaker, I thought taking care of my baby was my one job. The housekeeping part was an afterthought.
I reacted to what needed to be done: laundry and cleaning as needed. I never organized, decluttered or planned ahead. I at least got dinner made, but I was still learning my husband’s tastes and spent a lot of time making complicated things no one really wanted. (Stupid craft projects, fancy desserts from scratch, sewing projects that were terrible and had to be thrown out.)
I went shopping a lot too, even though we had very little extra money. I just wasn’t sure exactly what I should be doing.
Don’t let the homemaking schedule control you
Five years, more kids, and different houses later. I read a book that convinced me a homemaking routine would be worth it. I liked the vintage aspects of it, and it just appealed to my controlling nature. I had a newborn in the house, and it was not the right time to attempt something so strict.
But I decided to embark on a deep cleaning and organized house. So I downloaded some weekly printables and set myself on the schedule.
Laundry day was Monday, so I would wait until Monday to do ALL the laundry and turn it into a big production.
Cleaning day was Friday, so I would vacuum and dust the whole house. I would add on a deep cleaning project like windows. I would get panicky if all the laundry didn’t get done on Monday. I developed a weird habit of grinding my teeth because I was so worked up over the whole thing. It was very silly. My homemaking schedule was seriously stressing me out.
To be fair, the book emphasized being flexible with yourself, adjusting the schedule, and not letting it rule your life. I just didn’t listen.
It was just recently that I was contemplating abandoning the whole thing. I still liked many aspects of it, though. My house was clean and company ready. But it was ruling me, not helping me. I started tweaking deep cleaning the kitchen a bit every day instead of once a week. I did laundry all throughout the week. I used laundry day to do as many loads as possible and clean the laundry room. Instead of deep cleaning and weekly cleaning on cleaning day, I kept the house clean all week, did a deep cleaning chore 3-5 times a week, and went over the whole house with a vacuum and damp cloth on cleaning day. I found I just prefer to do things bit by bit. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still follow the schedule…. I just use it to get ahead, instead of catching up.
daily work is the backbone
If you save up all your work for a cleaning or laundry day, you are making your life harder. Instead of letting work pile up, tackle it as soon as possible and things will seem easier.
Keep the house picked up, do a load of laundry when you wake up, run the dishwasher every night and sweep the floor before bed every day. These things take less than five minutes but maintaining your house this way means that it is always presentable and will not be stressing you out.
There will be days, and sometimes weeks, that this is all you can do, and that’s okay! But the real magic of a vintage homemaking routine is in the weekly tasks that help you get ahead of the housework.
Once you have started maintaining your home through daily tasks, it is time to think about more “in-depth” housekeeping that you can do on a designated day. Try to think of things you could knock out for the week, which will be a gift to yourself, like a freezer stocked with prepared meals or a whole week of activities planned out.
Here are my days, which you could just copy for yourself, or you could think of your own:
My vintage housekeeping schedule: weekly theme days
Monday: Laundry Day
All the laundry I can do, combining loads if necessary to get the baskets empty. I always do linens on this day too. This way if I have a busy week ahead and can’t get laundry done, I am not behind. I also clean the laundry room. Just wiping it down, not a big production. Now Tuesday through Sunday, I am still doing laundry if I have time and tidying up the mudroom bit by bit. I am not intentionally leaving it for Monday.
Tuesday: Baking Day
Preparing things ahead of time to stock in the fridge or freezer. Sandwich rolls almost every week, as they are a staple. Cookie dough to freeze, salad dressing, meatballs to freeze, occasionally chili or lasagna. In hot weather, I will marinate a few things to grill later in the week, make ice cream or popsicles, or can something. We usually have pizza on Thursdays, so I make the dough and put it in the fridge.
Wednesday: Projects and Presents
This used to be my sewing day, but now it is more general crafting. I sew, cross stitch, or make soap. If there is painting or decorating I want to get done, like hanging pictures or something, I will do it on this day. If we have a party coming up that needs decorations, I work on them. If there are gifts that need to be wrapped for that weekend or letters written, I get it done. I keep a Pinterest board of projects I want to try.
Thursday: Errand Day
Now that I am no longer driving into town for preschool, it makes sense to combine errands. I do the grocery store, library every week, and sometimes the bank or post office. I try to stock up as much as makes sense. That way, if for some reason I can’t get to the store, the world will not end.
Friday: Cleaning day
Hopefully, the house is pretty clean daily from my general tidying up. But on Fridays, I vacuum and dust everywhere, including bedrooms, steps, halls, etc. It doesn’t take long. Sometimes I move furniture and all that, but mostly not.
Saturday and Sunday: Paper and Planning Day
I make a meal plan for the next week and write down any important dates for that week, like appointments, visits, etc, using one of my weekly planning sheets. I also straighten the bookshelves. I go through my kids baskets or school papers, throwing out most of it and saving what I need. This is just a few minutes at a time over the course of the weekend.
Some other themed days to add to your own routine:
Now obviously, you can’t add all of these and keep the ones above. But maybe your family is small, and you don’t need a dedicated laundry day, or you live in town and do one small errand a day. Here are some other task days that might be helpful. You get the idea.
Work in the garden, tidy up outside, wash the car, organize the garage, and prune shrubs.
If you homeschool or have a home business, maybe you need a few hours a week to plan ahead and get ahead of your work
Deep Clean and Organize Day:
This sounds terrible to me! But if you don’t like the idea of deep cleaning a bit every day, maybe dedicating a day of the week to get those tasks done would work.
A day to organize the kid’s toys and craft supplies. Pull some out for the upcoming week to keep them interested. Request from the library some new books for them. Research a realistic craft project to do with them over the weekend, and make sure you have the supplies. Make sure their sports equipment, uniforms, and seasonal things are all in good shape and buy what you need.
The point is, that everyone’s schedule will look different, depending on your family, your workload, and personal preference.
Putting it all together
Now that you have picked the five or six focus days you want to do, it’s time to plan when to do them. Think about what days are already busy for you with after-school activities and other commitments, and try to put light or flexible days there. My local grocery stores are always crowded on Fridays and weekends, so I avoid them on those days. On Fridays, cleaning day is good for me in case we have weekend guests. Keep things like this in mind.
Write it down.
Keep life flexible
And here is the crucial part:
Some days I don’t do any of the weekly tasks. Someone is sick, or we are visiting friends, or the weather is terrible, and we want to go to the craft store, or the weather is beautiful, and we want to be outside all day. Or a shipment of berry bushes has arrived and we need to plant them, or an out-of-town guest is here. Or maybe we just don’t feel like it.
When this happens, there is no need to cry or lose sleep. That was the point of it…to get ahead of the housekeeping. Now when life happens, nothing goes awry. I just get right back into it next week and eat one of those meals tucked away in the freezer. No catching up later in the week is allowed. Cleaning day will come along again.
As long as days off are the exception rather than the rule, things flow just fine.
Want a printable to help you organize your routine?
If it makes your life harder, something is wrong
Don’t read this and think you are adding a ton of work to your day. It’s all stuff already getting done, just more organized now. Now instead of those bad days when all of a sudden tons of laundry needs to be done, the house is a mess and guests are coming, and there’s nothing to eat, things will be done a bit at a time.
I can promise you, from experience, that doing the overworked martyr act will get you no sympathy and is not attractive. A routine should help your life feel easier and your household run more smoothly. That way, you have time to relax and still feel like you are being productive and getting things done.
So I hope you can find a system that works for you. Just write out your days, get started, and go from there.
I hope this helps you in some way!
33 thoughts on “Vintage Homemaking Routines That Still Work Today (Make Your Own)”
In a post by another reader she mentioned “Recently you showed a Cleaning Schedule, weekdays plus
ideas of tasks that could start your day. There was also a daily list to the left.”, would you please send me this form as well? I am newly “retired” and staying at home due to health issues. I really enjoy your blog during this “what do I do now time”. Thank you so much and have a wonderful day!
Hi Vickie, I think this is what she’s referring to: https://heartscontentfarmhouse.com/weekly-cleaning-schedule/. You can download the printable directly from the post 😊
Recently you showed a Cleaning Schedule, weekdays plus
ideas of tasks that could start your day. There was also a daily list to the left. This was the best list I have run across but my husband accidently erased it before I could copy. Could you send me one like it that I can copy.
Thank you. Am learning much from your blog. Loni
Hi Loni! I’ll email it to you!
My schedule is to break the cleaning up to certain tasks for each day of the week. All cleaning and housework is done in the morning, leaving the afternoons to more enjoyable home making skills.
Monday’s Baking, Tuesdays Sewing and repairs, Wednesday is Gardening, Thursday’s Paperwork and Fridays shopping and Errands.
This schedule has worked for me for many years. It is an easy enjoyable way to love being at home.
What I really want to know is what recipe you use for sandwich rolls?!? I usually make sourdough sandwich bread once a week but the kids haven’t mastered cutting beautiful slices. Rolls would be so much easier for them, but I want a tried and true weekly recipe, not to just experiment until I find one.
hi kirsten! i have 2 go-to recipes. my sourdough one is: https://heartscontentfarmhouse.com/crusty-sourdough-rolls/
i also make yeast rolls a lot: https://heartscontentfarmhouse.com/bread-machine-sandwich-rolls/
I have always had a schedule and have been learning to tweak it around work, and family.
Thank you for your wonderful ideas.
I have been “keeping house” for my family (one hubby and gradually – 4 kids) and on the office end of our building business for 40+years. I have always had the philosophy that a house keeping plan makes it a lot less work. If you know what day you’re going to change sheets and towels or dust and vacuum, you don’t worry about it the other days. A few special days that I try to fit in besides laundry and general upkeep is Bedding Week (wash all comforters, blankets, pillows and mattress covers on beds being used daily) every 6 months, Windows Week once a year, Front and Screen Porch cleaning week once a year, and my favorite “Upper Cleaning Week” when you drag a ladder around the house and wipe down ceiling fans, door trim, light fixtures etc. Once it’s done, don’t think about it for another year. My hubby does help with most of these and usually it’s done in a day or weekend.
Hi Katie! Wonderful article! Was wondering what the title of the homemaking book you referred too? I love reading home making books and am curious if it’s one I’ve already read! ????
hi rochelle, it is called “home plain and simple” by Kim Brenneman!
When you were talking about a homemaking book that was stressing you out, it instantly made me think of Home Plain and Simple. Glad I’m not the only one who is stressed out by that book. ???? Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great book, but I only think it works for certain personality types. I do appreciate her writing style though. But I think you and I must have similar personalities or something because your homemaking routine works so much better for me. I feel like I have tried every homemaking routine under the sun and this is the only thing that I have been able to stick to. It just makes sense, but I’m not sure I ever would have thought of it myself, so thank you!
aw yes! I do love the book it just… argh. makes me nervous. I’m so glad the homemaking routine is working for you! that’s great!
I love this post and video!! I’ve been having this idea of dedicated days for my brain to process better and this just rolls it out so smooth and simple!
so glad it was helpful mina ??
Just found your blog and love your approach. It seems so much for realistic and practical than so many “schedules” I’ve found that have immediately overwhelmed me. I just quit my job to stay home with my first baby. She’s 14 weeks old. To be honest I’m feeling so unsure how to balance it all. She prefers being held most of the time but doesn’t like being in a carrier, which leaves little time for housework—and I’m just talking about the basics here. If you have any advice, I’d love to hear it, and thank you for this amazing post!
Mckenzie, aw I am so happy it was helpful :). I know having a little one is hard. Have you tried swaddling? I am a big believer in routines for baby even though I know it’s a bit controversial. The baby whisperer is one of my favorite books.
I just came across your blog after definitely falling into the “no plan” or “stress over the plan” approach. This was such a refreshing post! So many bloggers try and convince their readers to do things their way. But your post was reminded me to make my own way and not stress. I needed that, thank you.
Also I love the idea of a craft day! I’m always trying to sneak in time for crafts when my kids (sometimes) nap. Resulting in half finished, usually abandoned crafts. I love the idea of having a craft day to look forward to!
Thanks again, your post was a blessing!
thank you Kristen! hope it helps you make a plan that works for you 🙂
Katie – thank you so very much for your emails! I feel like you could read my mind, and actually put it all into a plan that is perfect for me. Your home-making approach is a touch of classic, a lovely hint of vintage, and is tied-up nicely with the necessary practicality of our modern times. My heart just sighed. ????????????????????????
Aw Kitrena thank you so much! I am so happy I could be helpful, and you have seriously made my day! ??
This is quite helpful. I just started a home care plan and it has already made my life simpler.
I love the idea of flexibility and the baking/craft days. I’m going to add those and mold my own “plan”.
I am glad it’s helpful, Rachel! Thanks for letting me know. 🙂
I love this!! I love the idea of a craft day and a baking day.. I wouldn’t have thought of those. I like blocking my time into different days like this and completely agree with keeping up with things little by little. Thank you for the great ideas! ????
Thank you Jayden! I need to restudy this post and take my own advice about this! ????
I just found this. It is very helpful. thank you.
You are very welcome I am so glad to hear that ????
Love your suggestions!
Thank you Robin! ????
I did about three weeks of Mother’s Rule of Life last spring, then realized I was pregnant and started sleeping all the time. This is a helpful approach!
I loved the title of that book, and the cover… the rest was way too emotional and gentle for me. But I know so many people love it.