It’s hard to get motivated to clean when you’re pregnant

(OK, who am I kidding? I find it hard to want to clean when I’m NOT pregnant. But I’m sure we can agree that it’s particularly hard to get motivated to clean while pregnant.)

I mean in the first trimester you’re feeling absolutely crappy (tips to deal with morning sickness in the first trimester here). Then you get into that fun exhausted stage where you literally never sleep (tips to get more sleep while pregnant here).

And by the time you reach the third trimester, not only do you feel like a beached whale, you’re also busy working on your third trimester to-do list.

So, right from the moment you experience those early pregnancy symptoms, cleaning just does NOT feel like a priority.


But that doesn’t change the reality that if no one scrubs the toilet it starts to look like it’s growing things. You can pretty easily find yourself surrounded by take out containers and unable to find your cat in the mess.

A mess can really bring us down, and it’s actually unhealthy to live in a mess…it’s stressful, anxiety inducing, and can also be physically unhealthy – particularly if you have pets or old food sitting around –  so getting motivated to clean, pregnant or not, is something we gotta do.


Wait wait, back up – how pregnant are you?

If you’re in those first miserable weeks – maybe sort of week 6-14 (or if your morning sickness doesn’t dissipate AT ALL into the 2nd trimester), and you feel like just holding your head upright on your neck is more than you can do… it’s ok to cut yourself some slack when it comes to real cleaning (or just about anything else).

Related: The ONLY Things You Really Have to Buy in The First Trimester

A dirty house is unhealthy in the long run, yes, but no one ever died of “dirty house syndrome” after just a few months of exposure.

This is just a season, and this season will pass.

It would even be ok for you to declare yourself too pregnant and sick to clean, to close this window, and come back here when you’re 20 weeks and just in need of a little push to get going with the cleaning. The house will not self-destruct.

But, if you’re like me, and the mess totally stresses you out, then try to do your best right now to aim for “tidy”, and just do the most basic cleaning when you have 15 minutes here and there of feeling sort of human.

To keep things tidy:

  • When you get off the couch to go to the bathroom, take the plates or cups out of the living room.
  • Put everything in the dishwasher (even things you wouldn’t normally put in there!) and run it often.
  • Wipe the kitchen/bathroom counters daily.
  • When you take off your clothes to shower, put them in the laundry hamper (unless you’re going to wear them again after) even if they aren’t quite ready for the wash.
  • If you have older kids, christen one room in the house “the playroom”, and don’t worry about keeping it tidy. Toys go in that room, wherever. On the floor is good, as long as they’re in the playroom.

Tidy will take you a LONG way.  It’s far easier to feel better about life (even if you’re puking) when you have a tidy room to sit in.

As for the basic cleaning, just choose one simple task per week – my basic tasks are toilets, sinks, vacuuming, and garbage pails.

That’s it.

If you have 15 minutes of feeling semi-decent, scrub the toilet. Then you’re done for the week.

Let the other stuff GO. You don’t need dust-free baseboards and shiny windows when you’re pregnant.

And if there are any flat out health hazards – like a litter box that needs emptying, or a bag of potatoes turning into mush under the sink – see if you can get someone else to help you with those. (Pregnant women shouldn’t clean cat litter boxes anyway, just FYI.)

How I get motivated to clean when pregnant (AFTER the morning sickness is gone):

Even once you feel a bit better – motivation can still be lacking.

I suppose you’ll have to decide how important a spotless house is… I do generally still just settle for tidy and not-gross, but at least it’s easier to get it to that point when you don’t feel like you’ll lose your breakfast when you stand up.

Remember that if you just do a little each day, it will never become a huge job

Even when I’m not pregnant, the one thing that forces me to pick up the house before bed is to remind myself that if I spend ten minutes to do this NOW, I won’t have to spend an hour to do it tomorrow.

The mess adds up and multiplies into something much bigger than it has to be when it’s put off for a day or two.

visualize a clean house to keep yourself focused

I have a hard time staying on task once I convince myself to get started.

I hate hate hate having a messy house – and even tho I also don’t love cleaning, I do really love how it feels once the house is clean. It helps me to visualize myself relaxing in a clean house, going to bed in a clean house. (I even sleep better when the mess is taken care of!)

Related: How to Clean Your House When You Feel Paralyzed by the Mess

set a timer (or turn on some music)

Sometimes it feels like cleaning the house is a massive undertaking, when the truth is (if we stay focused) the whole job can be done in less than an hour or so. (Unless you have a mammoth house.)

Challenge yourself to get through the bathroom in 4 songs, the kitchen in 3 songs, and the living room in 2 songs.

You’ll be amazed how quick it can go!

Use rewards to motivate yourself to clean while pregnant

Yes, bribe yourself the same way you’d bribe a child. (The same way you WILL bribe a child in a couple years, even if you think you won’t. You will.)

(Not that we have to do anything to “deserve” to do nice things for ourselves, just that having a treat to look forward to can help – sort of like a light at the end of the tunnel.)

The best reward for a clean house when you’re growing a human (in my opinion)?

A nap. I don’t EVER let myself nap – I really mean never. I have a to-do list about 6 feet long, and I work from home to boot. There’s just no time to nap. So this is really tempting to me.

Other ideas for major motivation:

  • getting a massage
  • getting your nails done
  • taking a long bath
  • not picking the older kids up QUITE on time from their grandparents place – 1/2 hour of quiet mom time is amazing
  • shamelessly binge-watching netflix in the middle of the day in jammies (why not? The house is clean…)
  • guiltless-ly eating fast food or ice cream (don’t use this one every week while pregnant or you’ll have to find the motivation to workout with a newborn and that’s even harder than cleaning when you’re pregnant.)

Leave the bigger jobs for the third trimester

This might seem counter intuitive, but most women get a “nesting” urge during the third trimester, and some of those bigger things that seem overwhelming now are actually enjoyable then!

I cleaned my fridge, my pantry, and all my closets in the third trimester. Think I washed the windows last time too.

And it felt GREAT!  The motivation to do that stuff was very natural by then. So don’t fee bad about leaving the bigger cleaning jobs for now.

Finally, and I hate to say it, but also maybe try to get used to the mess. First kid or third kid, every kid adds to the mess a little! (I wish I was kidding…)

Related: How to Keep the House Clean if You Have Little Kids

What are your best tips for finding motivation to clean while pregnant?

how to get motivated to clean while pregnant