Okay, so, I get asked all the time how I “do it all.” Well, as most of you probably know from your own lives…I don’t. It’s not possible to do it all!
One major area that often slides is cleaning. When it comes down to the wire, unless there’s something I really need to do (cleaning-wise), I will choose spending time with the kids, blogging, cooking, etc. over cleaning.
Now, don’t think my house is filthy. It’s not. I do deep cleans a few times a year. Just a week or so ago I scrubbed all my kitchen counters, and I mean behind all the appliances and everything. I also keep up with the daily dishes, laundry, etc. — well, mostly.
But I’m not “that mom” who has an immaculate home, whose curtains and rugs are washed regularly (ha), whose bathrooms are so sparkling you could eat in them. You’ll see crumbs in my carpet, especially in the playroom. You’ll see toys on the floor. You might see some dishes on the counter. I’m okay with that — it’s how things go in a busy household. I’d rather enjoy life than have an immaculate home.
I do hate living in downright clutter, though. So to combat my desire to do things other than clean, but not live in a dirty house, I’ve developed several cleaning shortcuts to help me out.
1. Do the Dishes
Everyday I make it a point to do the dishes. I unload the dishwasher in the morning and load up anything that was left on the counter or in our room after our bedtime snack, and the breakfast dishes. I load up what I can after meals. At least my counters are cleared off so my kitchen looks a lot cleaner…and we have clean dishes. This does not take much time. It is part of our “morning chores” surrounding breakfast prep.
2. Have Less Stuff
We try to keep only a box or two of toys in the kids’ playroom (and by “box” I mean a large shoe box size). If they have less of them, then there is less to pick up and keep track of. i.e. we can clean up easier. We’re working on getting rid of more and more other stuff too so that we do not have loose odds and ends floating around. My ultimate goal is “a place for everything and everything in its place.” I don’t see how else I can reasonably keep an organized home.
3. Do the Laundry All At Once
Over several days, people take clothes off in various locations and put it in different baskets. I try to wash the laundry usually over two days, and it all stays folded in one room (that we don’t often use) until it is all done. Then it goes back into the “right” baskets — one per room (three for my room). Each basket gets carried to its proper location and putting the laundry away only takes a minute or two. (This is one reason why you will often see clean, folded laundry in house, though, since I don’t always get it done in two days…)
4. Sweep the Floor
No matter how many toys are on the playroom floor, it still doesn’t really look “dirty” if the floor is vacuumed. I sweep the kitchen floor every couple of days. I do not mop very often. I just try to keep it free from obvious junk.
5. Focus on High-Traffic Areas
The last time I vacuumed the playroom was…yesterday. The last time I vacuumed my bedroom was…I don’t even remember. It’s pretty common for me to vacuum the playroom at least weekly, but the upstairs, like…never. (Not never but a few times a year.) I never sweep bathroom floors, but I sweep the kitchen fairly often. The bathroom floors don’t get food thrown on them multiple times a day. I especially ignore the bathroom in my room that no one but me and my husband uses…
6. Clean the Toilet and Sink
In the bathroom, you do not need to sanitize every.single.surface. Swish the toilet and wipe down the sink area. That will take less than 10 minutes and the bathroom will look clean. Save the mirrors, floors, and anything else for a monthly “real” cleaning. Save tubs and showers for when, you know, you really have to. My tub is plastic and never looks dirty so it only gets cleaned a few times a year.
7. Skip the “Details”
Every window in my house has fingerprints on it. I don’t remember the last time I washed the curtains. The rugs? Well…I shake them out now and then. For the most part, these will not actually look that dirty and peoples’ attention will not be drawn to them. Clean them seasonally, but they don’t need done every week.
8. Use a Microfiber Cloth and “Scoot”
When my floor does get spills or dirty spots (in the kitchen), I don’t get out the mop. I run a microfiber cloth under hot water, squeeze it out, and toss it on the floor. Then I use my foot to rub the worst spots until they are clean. It saves me from having to actually haul out mops, buckets, cleaning solution, etc. but my kitchen floor remains reasonably clean. I typically use water to clean most things that are not actually “dirty” anyway, and save any chemicals, even “natural” ones for places like the bathroom or the infrequent deep clean. Kids can even help with this; many think it’s fun!
9. Clean Immediately
If something spills, just clean it up. It takes two seconds to wipe up juice that splashed on the counter while pouring; it might take two minutes to scrub it off once it’s sticky and dried on. I have to remind myself of this constantly, for some reason. (And all our parents, mine and Ben’s, clean up everything immediately and they always have, and they tried to teach us this. Do we do it? Nope…. We never learn.)
10. Have a Good “System” In Place
All shoes go into the closet next to the door when we get home. All coats get hung nearby on some hooks. There is a laundry basket in the kitchen and almost every upstairs room, and all the clothes go into them when taken off. There are trash cans in several rooms and trash goes into them. We are teaching our kids to do these, plus putting dishes on the counter next to the sink or into the dishwasher. When everyone knows where their “things” belong, then keeping things clean is easier. I hate tripping over shoes…so we’re being pretty insistent that shoes need to go into that closet when they are not being worn. The kids are getting better about it. And we are trying to be examples by doing it correctly ourselves!
These are the ways that I keep my house reasonably clean. Not wonderful, but acceptable enough that if you were to drop in unexpectedly I wouldn’t feel the need to apologize (much).