How To Keep The House Tidy When Mum’s Sick

Heaps of simple tips for helping you keep on top of the housework when you are feeling sick, tired, and in need of bed rest.

When I feel unwell I get mopey and I start to slow down. I find it difficult to follow through with routine house habits I have in place, like folding the washing or doing the dishes. Instead I take this extra time to rest and relax to regain my energy.  I believe when you’re unwell your body is telling you to slow down, and it’s important to look after yourself when needed. Below I’ve shared some of my tips on how to keep the house tidy and under control when you get sick.

If the dirty washing or dishes were left until you were well again, you’d have a huge job waiting for you. Just the thought of trying to get everything back into order would be enough to make me run back to bed!

Let’s hope you have a wonderful partner or kids that are willing to do these jobs, but for now let’s presume you don’t have this support (hubby at work or the kids are too young) – how do you keep the house tidy whilst still taking time out?

Get Prepared

Medicines – Stock up your medicine cabinet when you’re well so that you don’t have to make any unexpected trips to the chemists when you fall ill. Here’s an all-natural DIY Cold and Flu Chest Rub Recipe that I make for when my family get sick. You can see a list of what else I like to stock up on for the cold and flu season here.

DIY Cold and Flu chest rub recipe

Tissues – It’s a good idea to have too many tissues and toilet paper stocked away than not enough.

Lunches – Have some items in your pantry or freezer that the kids can easily grab and put in their lunch boxes for school, like these super easy 2 Ingredient Lunchbox Scrolls. This will save you time when preparing school lunches, which is great for when you’re sick or on those extremely busy mornings when you don’t have time to make lunch.

Lunchbox scrolls for kids school lunches

Lunch Box Recipe Cookbook

Kids snacks – Make it easy for the kids to reach water bottles, fruit in the fridge and snacks from the pantry.

Meals – One night of takeout while you’re sick is fine, but then again you may not feel like driving. Always keep something in your pantry or freezer as an easy go-to meal that can be quickly defrosted or heated-up. Meals such as soup, casserole, or vegetable packed bolognese are great for this. There’s heaps of freezer-friendly meal ideas in my Hearty Dinners Recipe Cookbook that are ideal for stock-piling in the freezer, and I love my slow cooker for when I’m not feeling well.

Hearty Dinners Recipe Cookbook

These reusable silicone food pouches are great for storing your extra dinners in the freezer. I freeze my meals flat, and then store them vertically so they take up less space.

Freezer bags for food prep

Frozen meals in these silicone food bags can be quickly heated up by microwaving them or by simply popping them in pot of boiling water (they can withstand temperatures up to 120 degrees celsius).

Reusable silicone food pouch for freezing

Rest and Relax

As a mum, it’s rare to find time to rest and relax. However this is absolutely needed when you’re unwell, to help regain your energy. I suggest waking up in the mornings, having a shower, and then getting into some comfy clothes or clean PJ’s. When you’re on the road to recovery, dress in your usual clothes as this will help boost your mood.

To help keep the kids busy whilst you’re unwell, equip them with some colouring pages, these craft ideas for toddlers or even a Diamond Dotz (my kids love these!) or jigsaw puzzle to pass the hours.

Keep kids busy jigsaw puzzle when sick

Keep On Top Of The Dirty Washing Pile

Use that 15 minutes where you’re feeling refreshed after a shower to put on a load of washing.  Try to delegate hanging the washing out to your partner or the kids though. If you have younger children (who can’t reach the clothes line) get them to hang the washing out on a clothes horse. If this isn’t an option, treat yourself to a clothes dryer day and then hopefully you’ll have enough energy to put the items that can’t go in the dryer on the line. I like to use these Organic Merino Wool Dryer Balls because they reduce the drying time and also the wrinkles in my clothes!

I don’t say this often, but when you’re sick just let that clean washing pile up for when you are feeling better.  At least you have washed the clothes, so you are a few steps ahead and won’t have mountains of dirty washing to catch up on when you’re better.

Wool Dryer Balls

Change Pillow Cases

It’s unlikely that you’ll feel in the spirit to change your whole bedding, however, putting some fresh clean pillowcases on can make a big difference and will hopefully help you have a good night’s sleep.

SHOP: Cushions | Throws | Faux Yellow Dancing Orchid

Dirty Dishes

This is another area that if left for a few days will definitely get out of hand. To avoid a kitchen full of dirty dishes, ask other members of the household to do the washing up – even the toddlers can give it a go! If you can’t delegate, then try to find at least 10 minutes to wash the dishes, let them air dry and then put them away whilst you’re waiting for the kettle to boil. No extra kitchen cleaning needs to be done during this time – the stove top doesn’t need to be scrubbed and the papers cluttering the bench top can be left. Just do the dishes and then go back and rest.

If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher. obviously you can use this to clean all your dishes – and the kids can certainly help pack and unpack the dishwasher!


We can’t always be super mum and do everything. If you try while you’re sick, you’ll more than likely take even longer to recover. If you have other members in your household make sure you ask for their help. Sometimes our partners think we’re capable or don’t even realise that something needs to be done. You just need to say “Honey I’ve washed the clothes, do you mind hanging them on the line?”. Be kind to yourself and delegate.

Remember that every family is different, so make sure you adapt these ideas to suit your family.


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D young August 13, 2015 - 6:29 AM


granny apple August 13, 2015 - 8:10 AM

Hi Kat. Sounds similar to my routine for coping with housework when working full time. Then I catch up at weekends. Do you have any other good shortcuts for full time working mums? Mine is to prepare the kids packed lunches the night before so they can easily grab them from the fridge in the morning rush around before school runs.

Karen August 13, 2015 - 11:07 AM

I’m a Mum that works full time also and I too make lunches the night before as there is no time in the morning. I do a meal plan for each week and also cook ahead on the weekend. Soup and anything in a slow cooker are my friends and I make the infamous zucchini quiche often to use in lunches. My 10 year old has a thermos she takes to school with hot soup in (soup I made on the weekend!) which she loves. I don’t stress about washing clothes each day and only do it on the weekend. At the moment it is too cold and wet to hang out clothes so our laundry is full of clothes airers with washing from the weekend on them and we pick off what is dry during the week. Many of the tips here are just not feasible if you work outside the home but you can pick and choose the ones that will work for you and your family. Our home is not perfectly tidy and clean, there aren’t enough hours in the day when you work full time but we are happy, healthy and well fed which I believe is all that is important.

Kate - Kat's Assistant August 17, 2015 - 10:49 AM

Fantastic that you are preparing lunches the night before, this is a big time saver in the mornings. I also use Routine Charts which my kids use for Morning, AAfternoon and Evenings. They can be purchased from my shop. I find them a great time saver. Here is the link for you:

PlanetCookeUK August 13, 2015 - 8:16 AM

Hugely disappointed by this article to say the least. It sends the wrong message from start to finish – the notion that hopefully your husband/kids are “willing to do these jobs for you”? Because I’m female, they are automatically all MY jobs?? And I should be grateful of any ‘willingness’ from others to do these jobs on my behalf? Erm no. Perhaps the suggestion that household chores should be undertaken by those that live within that household is a little too 21st century for your author? Sure every family is different but if you perpetually reinforce that dirty laundry, dishes and dinners are mum’s responsibility you’ll continue to stifle the progression of women of not only in our generation but also your daughter’s and her daughter’s. None of them will thank you for it I can assure you.

Mumof4 August 13, 2015 - 2:16 PM

Wow you need to loosen up. I’m proud to be a mum who gets the privilege of looking after my children and husband its what we’re designed to do and be. We know can do anything but I’d much prefer to be a mum at home. It makes me proud that I get to make sure my family are well fed and clothed, their bed linen is clean for them to sleep on at night. I get the privilege of being at home waiting for the after school rush of kids coming home to tell me what they did at school, who was mean at school today, listening and responding how they need to deal with their little life’s issues…I get to see my children grow up. I love that my husband can come home to a warm clean house, kick off his shoes after a hard days work and be happy that his children are safe and well and his wife is happy too. I’m happy that my family needs me and realise that when I’m sick that the house is upside down lol…they’ll do their best, I know it’s not my kinda clean but I’m glad that they tried. You’re not going to always get a thank you but then again never expect anything…you’ll be much happier. Also if you teach your children to be thankful for everything, remember their manners, forgive others, (hey biblical truths! ) then I’m sure they’ll be thanking you for all that you do… Btw thank you organised housewife! You always have awesome tips!! ::::)))

TeacheryMumof2 June 24, 2020 - 9:08 AM

Hi Mum of 4 – good for you, it’s great you are happy at home and feel fulfilled. If course not every woman or mother feels like that and isn’t it great that we have the choice. Also many Mums needfully work to support their families and feel stressed and overwhelmed by the huge undertaking. I think the previous poster was trying to say that we shouldn’t continue to support the idea that all house related tasks default to Mum unless her partner or children are ‘kind enough to help.’ Personally I feel part of my job as a parent is to equip both of my children with the skills to run a home and my husband and I model both of us doing household jobs so our children know these are just jobs not specific to a gender. Hope this helps

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 17, 2015 - 5:16 PM

Hi there, I hope you do read more of my blog, you will learn that my blog is about sharing responsibilities amongst all family members, not just mum. In my post I did say let’s presume you don’t have the support of your partner or kids, because he/she maybe at work, and the kids maybe too young. If you do have the support of kids and hubby than this post would be redundant to that situation 🙂

granny app August 13, 2015 - 8:26 AM

Similar thought crossed my mind. However, I get where Kats coming from too. Sometimes we don’t realise how much we do until we are unwell. My family are good at taking responsibility and helping out but it can be easy to “make a rod for your own back”.

Jude August 13, 2015 - 9:13 AM

Thanks for some great tips to help make things a little easier for those of us who choose to take on the “housewife” tag. It would be ideal if husband and kids automatically did everything but they don’t always see what needs doing because their usual week revolves around other areas of responsibility. Warm appreciation shown to husband and kids is important. We thank the checkout operator at the supermarket for their service, even though it is their job and they get paid to do it. As the saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
Friends and grandparents may also provide support and help when mothers of young children are sick too. So don’t be afraid to ask for help and develop real-live face-to-face relationships!! Family is the place where children can learn to show thankfulness to their hardworking parents. NB 4 yr olds can peg small items of washing on a clothes airer, age 7 and up are fantastic at so many things and age 11 can probably do most of a meal so its worthwhile to spend time training the children to contribute to the family and as they get older they will be wonderful skills to have and you will be blessed by their love and care.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella August 13, 2015 - 9:57 AM

Great tips Kat! I like the one where the clothes are washed but not put away or folded. You really need to pick your priorities I agree 🙂

Kate - Kat's Assistant August 17, 2015 - 11:17 AM

Thanks Lorraine x

Julia K August 13, 2015 - 10:14 AM

Some years ago – a new family moved into our school and I became an acquaintance of the new mum. We’d had coffee once or twice but we were just acquaintances. I knew her husband worked away and she had a young baby as well as her primary aged son at school. By chance I heard that both she and the baby had been unwell so I made a simple meal (including salad and a dessert) and dropped it into her son’s classroom that afternoon. Little did I know – that simple act on my part was – in her words – an act of kindness that went above and beyond. I didn’t know it at the time – but their family was going through a major crisis and she really was at the end of her rope. She said that that simple meal restored her hope and gave her something to hang on to.
I’m writing this to encourage other mums to put your hand up and ask for help when you need it. At the same time – reach out and help someone else when you can. The simplest of gestures can really touch others. What goes around comes around and you never know when you may be the one needing help.
I should add that this lady and I now have a wonderful friendship – who would have thought ?

Kate - Kat's Assistant August 17, 2015 - 11:19 AM

That is really beautiful, Julia! What a wonderful friend you are, all starting with a simple kind gesture.:)

Julia K August 13, 2015 - 10:48 AM

PLANETCOOKEUK – I think you have totally missed the point of this post. This whole blog is aimed at the “Housewife” – be that male or female and the article addresses how that “Housewife” can get by when he or she is unwell.
In families where there is one party (male or female) working outside the home and the other party (male or female) is primarily responsible for running the home – then the laundry / cooking / cleaning IS their job.
Try not to get hung up in the male or female side of things and take these excellent tips on board.
I happen to be the housewife in this family and I’M PROUD OF MY JOB so I’m gonna get back to it 🙂

Kylie August 14, 2015 - 12:12 PM

Well said Julia K !!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 17, 2015 - 5:18 PM

Thank you Julia, hopefully she will read more of the blog and learn my tone certainly isn’t saying women have to only clean the home. It’s far from that.

Lele July 20, 2016 - 3:41 PM

Absolutely Kat! You help us as mums and modern woman not just survive our hectic lives but thrive and enjoy living life the best way possible. I love your tips, stories, challenges and everything The Organised Housewife brand stands for.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife July 21, 2016 - 8:36 AM

thank you Lele

Kristy August 13, 2015 - 11:21 PM

You are more than welcolme to organise my whole house as I’m a full time working mum with 3 messy kids

Annette August 14, 2015 - 5:44 PM

I think an important point is whether a family member can help by minding the kid/s so the primary organiser of the household can get some rest. I have lost both my parents but my Uncle and Aunt are fantastic and a good friend.

La Hola August 16, 2015 - 12:40 PM

This post is so 1960s! I am going to take a Bex and have a lie down after reading that sexist post.
Or maybe it is satire? Let’s hope.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 17, 2015 - 5:20 PM

Hi there, you may have skimmed over the bit that says lets presume you don’t have the help of your partner or the kids. I shared this from a scenario point of view of mum at home with young kids and hubby is at work. Sick or not, housework should be delegated amongst all family members. Please read more of my posts and you will see I get my kids often to help around the home and share responsibilities with my husband.

La Hola August 17, 2015 - 5:24 PM

#everydaysexism or was the header clickbait??

Sez June 15, 2016 - 6:33 AM

LA HOLA / PLANETCOOKEUK – if you’re not interested don’t read it – and don’t waste our time writing stupid negative comments. Do you always comment on blogs that don’t “suit” you? Where does negativity ever get people? If it doesn’t relate to you – then don’t comment on it, or better don’t even bother reading it. Maybe stop before you comment & realise you’re not the only fish in the sea, so there may be some people that this relates too. If i read an article about “working Mum’s & Dad’s sharing the load” or something like this that doesn’t suit me – i don’t go writing negative comments or criticise the person who is written it – who by the way is out there to help people. Maybe just think a little longer next time before you comment.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife June 16, 2016 - 2:20 PM

Must have missed that comment, thank you Sez 🙂 xx

Joanne August 16, 2015 - 6:20 PM

Thankyou Kat for a very practical and helpful post. I think your tips are great and I will certainly put some of those things into place next time I am sick. I love being a wife/Mum/ homemaker and am disappointed not to be able to do the things I normally do at those times when I am sick. But you have given some very wise and useful strategies for managing those times.

Kate - Kat's Assistant August 17, 2015 - 10:45 AM

My pleasure Joanne.:)

Laura August 19, 2015 - 10:28 AM

Thank you for yet another wonderful post Kat. I am surprised at some of these comments having a go at you. I wish we could go back to the 1950’s when all of the women were able to stay home and not be made to feel guilty about it! (** I say this tongue in cheek, so please don’t get your knickers in a knot feminists!)

I am a mother of two who works from home and takes care of ALL of the home duties as my husband often works away from home during the week (and even when he isn’t travelling for work he often works 12 – 14 hour days). This works for our family, but I know it isn’t for everyone.

Keep up the great work Kat.

Jane June 14, 2017 - 7:03 AM

Thanks for a great post Kat! This is very relevant to my life and family. I’m a new mum with a three month old and am dreading when I get sick as everything is just so much harder. Hubby will help if I ask but like you said most of the time he just doesn’t notice things need doing. All except the washing, I love doing it and he’s not even aloud to enter the laundry hehe.
Ps. I’ve worked full time my whole life and am now taking the time with new bubs to be a ‘housewife’
I’m loving every minute of it and as for all the negative comments I just don’t think they understand where you were coming from.
Can’t please everyone right?

BellaInAus June 24, 2020 - 8:34 AM

When I chose to become a housewife I suffered badly from migraines and after I had my kids I adopted the rule “don’t put up with something on a good day that you couldn’t cope with on a bad day”.

So I trained my children early on to do the things they could. Even a toddler can take cutlery to the sink, or put their dirty clothes in the hamper. By the time they were teenagers my boys could run the washing machine and the dishwasher. And I could lie in a dark room and recover.

As to the naysayers, I’d like to remind them of two things. 1. Feminism tells us we have the right to choose. Traditional female roles are a valid choice. 2. Not everyone has the privilege of learning the skills of house keeping as a child. Some of us are making this up as we go along. After twenty-seven years, I’m still figuring it out.

Thank you, Kat, for passing on your knowledge.

Nellie July 14, 2020 - 6:19 PM

I read this article, not because I am working mum or the ‘housewife’ but because I am one of two humans who live in our home. I also read the various comments that people wrote because I often find that others write tips and hints of what else they do on top of Kat’s blog. To be honest I am disappointed. Who cares if one person decides to be what some people call the ‘traditional housewife’ and has decided to stay home to look after the kids, clean house. It may not always be a choice because the cost to work may be less than the cost to have children cared for by others. But for some, it may be a choice. Who cares if one person decides to work and look after the home. Again, it may not be a choice as they may be a single parent or they are the only income for that household. Who cares if one person decides that not all members of the household contributes. Again, that may not be an option for everyone because maybe someone has a disability or maybe they are not always around as their work takes them to another destination. At the end of the day, we all have households that have different combinations. Who has the right to assume that ‘their way’ is the right way. Who has the right to say that ‘ gender roles need to be redefined’. Who has the right to decide how one person manages their home. Personally, I think we are all too politically correct. We are very quick to judge and feel that we have the right to ‘pull up people’ on what we don’t believe is how we would do it. I work because I choose to. I work because it allows for my household to be able to ‘have extras’. I choose to do household chores because I think I do a better job. I choose to do household chores because I actually don’t mind doing some of them. I also do household chores because it is a task that needs to be done. I don’t have children (because we couldn’t) but I have a husband and two furry things who create their own mess with toys everywhere, bedding that needs washing and they need feeding. Not comparable to kids I know! At the end of the day, I can ask my husband to help and he will. Many times he will just do things because he also lives inside. Often he doesn’t see the same things I see when it comes to cleaning or at the same level of tidiness that I like. Regardless of all this, I read Kat’s blog to get ideas on what I can do to help better our household. Not everything suits me because my ‘environment’ is different but I take what I think will work and go from there. I would like to think everyone does the same. What happened to ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it’. I am sure my comments won’t sit with some people but I am always astounded the human race has become less tolerable on so many things and yet we often feel so self-entitled. Thank you Kat for your ideas. Thank you to those who have added to those ideas. Not everything is for everyone but how about appreciating what we have to offer because maybe, just maybe, we may learn something new or a new way to do something that we may not have tried or thought of!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife July 15, 2020 - 2:36 PM

Nellie thank you for taking the time to write this comment. I am glad that my ideas have helped you and your home, and I do love your philosophy that everyone’s home operates differently, and it’s simply about picking and choosing what works best for you 🙂 Thank you again for sharing. Kat x

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GG May 30, 2021 - 4:35 AM

I agree, this article sucks. Martyr central. “Treat yourself to a dryer day” ?? What a gross tone.

Let the dishes air dry… yeah because all of us are so perfect that we towel dry them on a normal day when we aren’t deathly ill…


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