So it’s mid-morning, you’ve finally managed to get a shower (albeit one where your two year old kept popping his head around the curtain to make sure you hadn’t been eaten by the drain monster) and you sit down to feed the baby a bottle when an unwelcome thought crosses your mind: MY HOUSE IS FILTHY!
Some people assume that stay at home parents have nothing better to do than clean their houses to immaculate perfection, but let’s not forget about the one (or two, or three, or four) little people that pretty much make that a laughable impossibility. To anyone that cannot understand why your house is dirty, simply state the obvious: I have children.
But in all seriousness, no one wants to live in a pigsty. No matter how much we hate it, we do have to clean sooner or later. Everyone has a breaking point, whether you’re a neat freak or so laid back that the filth doesn’t bother you until your shower walls start to look like a moldy bread experiment gone horribly awry. So when you reach your breaking point, it’s time to ask what are some ways to keep your house clean without sacrificing your sanity?
1.First, if you have children at home, DO NOT TRY TO CLEAN YOUR HOUSE ALL AT ONCE! It will not happen. For your own sake, please don’t even attempt it. There is simply too much ground to cover while your little ones nap or are glued to a Baby Einstein video. Prioritize what needs to get done and just conquer a couple of tasks at a time. For instance, clean all your bathrooms one day, the next day dust your furniture, the next day vacuum and mop floors, etc. All of these tasks done separately take very little time, but if you attempt to do them all at once prepare to be interrupted by a diaper disaster or a toddler WWE match coming from the next room.
2. Second, as much a possible, clean as you go every day so that you don’t end up with two weeks worth of mess to clean an hour before your in laws come over on the weekend. Organize clutter like magazines and newspapers in storage bins, keep notes and lists in a neat pile on a desk or counter, and teach the kids to pick up all their toys at the end of the day (it can be done with a lot of patience and perseverance on your part). Wipe down your counters after you do the dishes at night and keep a scrub brush in your shower to quickly clean off soap scum or mildew while you’re getting clean too. Just these little steps can really help minimize how often you have to do the dreaded once over of your entire house.
3.Third, take your kids with you! Grab a few toys, plop the little ones down on the floor of your bedroom and dust away. No one ever said you had to clean only during naptime, and since that time is so very precious to us stay at home parents, who wants to spend it cleaning? Sure, you can’t have your kids around for all cleaning tasks because we’ve all seen what happens when you turn the vacuum cleaner on with your 6 month old in the room….not pretty. But most routine cleaning tasks like dusting, wiping down bathroom mirrors, and cleaning tubs and showers can be done with your kids playing right next to you. It’s good for them to see you working and taking care of your home, and if they watch you do it enough, chances are they will want to help out. If you’ve seen a two year old get excited when the broom comes out of the closet, you are already familiar with that odd childhood fascination with cleaning.
So don’t stress out about cleaning. It can be done if you just start to divide your huge whole-house-cleaning into more realistic, achievable tasks. Keep your house neat every day by taking a few extra minutes to pick up after yourself and the daunting prospect of house cleaning will become a lot less scary. Don’t be afraid to take the kids along with you from room to room as you work, because let’s face it, kids like to see their parents sweat! Clean as you might, you will never have spotless houses and you shouldn’t have to-you have children and they will always be your sweet, wonderful excuses for falling behind on your housekeeping.