We’re going to start 2014 with a theme week on housekeeping. When Anna suggested that we share how we manage to keep our houses clean without cleaning ladies, I read her email twice, looked around my messy living room, laughed ironically, gulped, and emailed back, “Sure! Why not!”
My house is not perfectly clean. In fact, it is not as clean as I’d like it to be. In fact, when we hosted friends for a cookie decorating party before Christmas, my kitchen counter was still littered with batteries, random ornaments-to-be-fixed, J’s baby book (out to record her 9 month stats after a doctor check-up), and the latest issue of First Things when our guests arrived. My friend graciously swept them into a grocery bag for me and said not to worry about it. It was humbling for me and good for her to see that even stay-at-home moms don’t manage to stay on top of counter clutter. Many of you probably do, but I don’t. So I’m starting off housekeeping week by telling you that I don’t do this as well as I’d wish!
I wish I could give you a handy cleaning schedule that ensures that every bathroom is thoroughly cleaned and every shelf dusted on a weekly basis. When I had only one child, I had a schedule like that, and you could have eaten off my floor. When I had two children, my husband was working at a high-power law firm, and we did have a cleaning lady come every other week for a few months in there. It was lovely. But by the time we had our third, my kids were producing more pictures than I could file away in a day, there was no more money for cleaning ladies (though my church friends did hire me one for a shower present when S was born!), and our house started looking more lived-in and less magazine-ready. Now I clean when I can, assign more tasks to the kids (which means the bathrooms aren’t as spotless as when I did them–and the windows are only clean as far as the four year old can reach), and accept that my house doesn’t get dirty on a weekly schedule. It’s more of a daily struggle.
With that long preamble, here are some ways that I’ve managed to keep grime at bay, realizing that we have to live in a “clean-enough” house for now…
- I like the house picked-up every night, but the kids do most of the tidying. Part of our evening routine is putting all toys and books away. I supervise, but the kids do the legwork. I clean up the kitchen daily and run the dishwasher every night so that clutter doesn’t pile up in the sink.
- I’ve simplified our cleaning supplies. I use the recipes in Cheryl Mendelson’s Home Comforts to make my own all-purpose cleaner and window cleaner. I keep Clorox Wipes on hand for emergencies like when someone dumps the potty chair on the floor in the middle of dinner prep hour and I don’t have time to do a full scrub-down of the bathroom.
- Have company over often. It forces me to keep the house closer to my ideal if I have it company-ready on a frequent basis. Hosting a weekly church small group is the best way I’ve found to have a clean house.
- We have a roomba (which my husband found deeply discounted on woot!). Now, I don’t think you necessarily need a robot vacuum to keep your floors clean, but it has helped me in two ways: First, we create crumbs and dirt constantly, and a daily run of the roomba helps catch the stuff I miss in my hourly sweep-ups. Second, our roomba will indiscriminately suck up any little things in its path, so it’s a good incentive for the kids and me to pick up any puzzle pieces, small crayons, lego pieces, or other things that we don’t want lost.
Anna will be sharing her housecleaning strategies on Wednesday. In the meantime, how do you clean house? Does a schedule work for you? Do you use a chore chart? Any tricks of the trade you want to share with the rest of us?