I spend a lot of time on Facebook. I love interacting with friends and family from all points in my life and find social media to be an excellent way to network and promote my business. My newsfeed is often scattered with memes that make it sound impossible to be a loving, conscientious parent while also living in a house that does not resemble a pigsty. You know the ones…
I find these to be slightly offensive as I consider myself to be a pretty decent mom, but I also come from a long line of women who are phenomenal cleaners. My mom loved to quote her mother, my grandmother, as saying “you don’t need to be rich to have a clean house.” And following her lead, my mom kept my childhood home in tip-top condition – even at the most stressful of times.
Now, I’m not saying that my house is perfect all the time. It definitely could use a lot more work and there are days that I want to pull my hair out because of the mess. But since I have such a strong reaction to mess, I don’t feel comfortable and can’t be my best self (or mom) when the house isn’t in order. So I’m going to share with you a few secrets I have for cleaning while not taking too much time away from parenting.
Is there one room in general that really needs to be focused on? Just worry about that! I typically spend 95% of my energy on the downstairs because that’s where we are most of the time and that’s what guests see. Occasionally I’ll bring a broom into our bedrooms and scrub the upstairs bathrooms, but I really only need to do that once every month or so.
Most of my time is spent cleaning the kitchen and living room. And since I’m in those rooms a lot, I like to have them looking nice.
2.) Touch it Once
Got a package delivered? Open it up, admire your new treasure, then collapse the box and put it in the recycling. Don’t leave the box on the table or collapse it and move it near the door – do it all at once and get it over with. This is something I personally need to work on but can make a huge difference.
Finish eating a snack? Bring your plate into the kitchen and put it into the sink or dishwasher. Better yet? Clean it and put it away.
This works for kids too. If they want to move on to a new toy/game, have them put the previous one all the way away before moving on. It can take a while to establish but will keep your house from looking like it was taken over by a toy store.
3.) Everything has a Place
You can’t put something away if you don’t know where it should go. Decide where the bills go before they’re paid and always put them there. Water bottles, coasters, Tupperware, coffee filters, and cutting boards should all have specific homes. The fewer things that are left out, the tidier your space will look and feel. If you’re not going to be using it in the next hour – put it away.
4.) Clean While You Wait
Cooking dinner and need to wait for the water to boil before doing the next step? Instead of taking out your phone to browse Facebook – clean! Move the empty glasses scattering the kitchen into the sink or scrub the pan you just used. You’re already in the kitchen, so you might as well take advantage of that time. I get a large majority of my kitchen cleaning done while I’m cooking.
5.) Make a System
When you do set out to clean, always do it in the same order. Take the kitchen, for example: wash and put away dishes, clean appliances, spray and wipe counter, sweep, then mop. Do the cleaning in an order that makes sense (like counters and dusting before sweeping) and always do it in the same order. This takes thinking out of the equation and you can get everything done faster while focusing on more interesting topics.
6.) Choose One Cleaning Day
You don’t have to be constantly cleaning. Little things like putting away dishes and tidying up toys can be done on a day-to-day schedule, but save the sweeping, vacuuming, mopping, and scrubbing for one day. For me, that day is Friday. If it doesn’t get done then, it becomes Saturday. I can scrub my kitchen, sweep the stairs and hardwood floors, water the plants, and vacuum the rugs in less than two hours. And that’s with a dog and a toddler under my feet.
It can be done that quickly because I do it every week. I have a system that works and there isn’t too much to clean because I just did it a week ago. If you choose a specific day, it’s easier to remember and you’ll feel guilty if you forget.
7.) Get the Kid(s) to Help
Instead of feeling like you need to work around your children, have them join in! There are tasks that kids can do at almost any age. My son is three and has his own broom. I tell him to sweep in a different room than me and he thinks it’s awesome. He doesn’t really sweep but that keeps him from disrupting my dust pile and he feels like he’s contributing. He also helps by pushing the button to empty the vacuum cleaner compartment, watering the plants, and tidying up his and the dog’s toys.
8.) Bring in Reinforcements
So cleaning isn’t your thing – that’s perfectly fine! You can still have a clean house. Solicit neighborhood kids to clean for a few dollars, hire a postpartum doula who includes cleaning in her services (I do!), buy a robot vacuum cleaner, bribe your kids to clean with stickers and trips to the playground, or go all out and hire a house cleaner.
I hope my tips have given you some feeling of control over your home. You don’t need to be constantly cleaning to have a tidy home. And with the cleaning out of the way, you can focus on more important things, like being a wonderful parent!
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