One of my personal mottos is “a clean home equals a clean mind.” I probably ripped that off from some cult leader or something, but if I did – man that’s one persuasive cult leader. Because I cannot function properly when my house is a mess.
Before I had my daughters, I prided myself on a spotless home. A place where you could confidently eat off the floors. Now I have children, I pride myself on a clean home even more. Because, dudes, it can be really hard to keep your home clean with kids.
Not that I’m remotely saying individuals without children don’t have busy lives that leave little room for cleaning. But the difference is when you don’t have kids and you clean your home – it tends to stay clean. Sometimes for an ENTIRE DAY.
For myself, and I’m sure many others who have small children residing in their home, this is a pretty accurate description of what a typical cleaning session looks like:
In the morning I unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher while simultaneously making breakfast for my one year old and three year old. This usually results in a large pile of dirty dishes in the sink, food and food paraphernalia strewn about the counter and a wide assortment of crumbs and sometimes whole food items scattered across the floor.
Usually they’re done eating and want out of their chairs before I’ve had time to sweep up the aforementioned crumbies. So they run through the mess and track it into the living room, where we unfortunately have carpet. Usually my baby tries to help clean up by eating the food fragments off the floor.
The next couple hours consist of me cleaning up after breakfast (usually one or both children will try and steal the broom), vacuuming (which must include a game of chase the children around the living room with said vacuum) and cleaning the toilets (while trying to make sure the baby doesn’t play in the toilet water at the same time as giving the older one a piggy back ride). And then it’s lunch time. Re-enter the crumbies.
I’ll stop there since this is supposed to be a post about how to keep your house clean when you have kids and not reasons why you shouldn’t have kids. And even though the above story makes my life sound like a gong show (which it kind of is) at least it’s a dusted, wiped down and tidied up gong show. Because I’ve come up with a few cleaning tips over the years that make possible the seemingly impossible task of keeping a house filled with children (mostly) clean.
Spoiler alert – it’s more about your state of mind than the state of your laundry room.
Devin and I are proof enough that everyone has a different standard of cleanliness. Devin is by no means a messy guy. He is tidy and helpful and appreciates a nice clean home. However, it used to drive me nuts (*cough* still does *cough*) when I’d ask him to clean something and he wouldn’t do it to the same level I would. For a long time I thought he just rushed through the job and didn’t really care about the end result. But I’ve learned it’s because his version of clean is my version of “mostly clean.” There are times when “mostly clean” doesn’t cut it. People are coming over. You’ve listed your home for sale and someone wants to come view it. But on a regular, day to day basis, I’ve come to realize that “mostly clean” equals “clean enough.”
Have a Flexible Cleaning Schedule
As a hyper-organized person who records almost everything on a list or in a calendar, OF COURSE I have a cleaning schedule. And you should too. Not because cleaning should rule you life, forcing you to say no to something fun because it’s Saturday and Saturdays are scrub the tub day. But schedules help remind you of what may need to be done. Which you can then assess if you actually need/want to do it. For example, my calendar states that I should vacuum the basement once a month. Is that how often I actually do it? Hell to the nope. We almost never go down there and besides, I already vacuum two entire floors on a regular basis. So when my calendar reminds me it’s time to drag that vacuum down a third flight of stairs, you can bet your ass I only do so if the crumb party has gotten out of control. (Download your own copy of my Flexible Cleaning Schedule if you don’t have time to come up with your own. After all – you’ve got all that cleaning to do!)
Keep It Simple
The amount of cleaning products out there is staggering. If the companies that sell them had it their way we’d own a different product for every single cleaning task. I used to own a lot more products than I do now. I pared those down and even shared a picture of my reduced cleaning arsenal in this post. But nowadays I really only use three things. A multi-purpose cleaner, vinegar and baking soda. And sometimes I still use my tea tree oil soap because it smells so very good. Honestly, you could clean your whole house with just vinegar if you wanted to simplify even more. Perhaps I’ll get to that point one day! Because keeping the products you use simple means keeping your cleaning routine simple means less time cleaning. Giving you more time to enjoy your nice clean house, which is about five minutes if you have children.
Ask for Help
I’ll admit it. This one is hard for me. I’m definitely an “if you want something done right – do it yourself” kind of person. But now that I’m a mom, I realize how destructive this kind of attitude truly is. First of all, it perpetuates the myth that we can “do it all.” We can’t. I’ve learned this the hard way. We can do a lot of things. And hopefully, if we’re very lucky, we can do all the things we love most. But can we be good parents, partners, daughters/sons, friends, employers/employees and have time to cook/eat healthy, exercise, read, write, dance, sing, go for long walks on the beach AND have a clean house? No. No we can’t. UNLESS we ask for help. The attitude that we can do it all ourselves also means we are denying others the opportunity to help – because the people who love you WANT to help. They truly do. So take your friend up on their offer to watch your kids so you can get some stuff done. Ask your partner to clean the toilets. And, most importantly, teach your children that your home is their home and that they need to help clean up too.
Have a Quitting Time
I learned very early on in my foray into motherhood that I would clean all night long if I let myself. So I stopped letting myself. My girls go to bed at eight and with the exception of a few small things I make sure the house is tidied up before then. If this means laundry goes unfolded until the next day or dishes are left in the sink then so be it. Because at the literal and metaphorical end of the day, the most important thing in life, of course, isn’t how clean your house is. The most important thing is that you have a safe home, filled with love, laughter and a whole lot of crumbs.
Do you have a cleaning schedule? How do you keep your home clean with kids or pets or a full time job? Share your own personal cleaning tips in the comments below! And if you haven’t yet, subscribe so you don’t miss future posts on architecture, interior design, DIY projects, sustainability, home decor, crafts, gardening and healthy eating.You can also now follow my blog with Bloglovin!
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Posted on August 9, 2017