Guest Blog by: Christina Mann
Do you hate cleaning? It’s ok to say it. I sure do! Yet ironically I can’t stand a mess either. So, that puts me in the position that either way I’ll be miserable….almost. The reality is I’ve learned to tolerate cleaning. Once upon a time I lived by myself and I only really had to “clean house” about once a week. Things stayed where I left them and I didn’t drag much dirt in because I wasn’t home much. Likewise I didn’t cook much because I lived alone. Then I got married and somehow instead of the cleaning doubling, it tripled. Then I had kids, and well I probably could wind up cleaning all day, every day. I refuse to do that though, because I hate cleaning and I want more in my life than that!
If your house is currently a mess, it will probably take you a few days of constant cleaning to get it to a maintainable state. (This was what I was doing this week, as I got behind. It happens from time to time!) My suggestion for this is to start in one room and go from there. I find if I have one room clean I can at least feel like I accomplished something.
Here are some tips of things I’ve learned to maintain your house if you have children in the home, a.k.a. human tornados. (I’m not saying I’m perfect at doing this myself. I’m just saying they help.)
1) Round Them Up! By this I mean the kids. While you are cleaning your house, or when you are done the only way to keep it clean is to keep the kids out. Granted you can’t keep them out all the time, but for the most part find a room they can play in and hang out with them in there. For example I am in my son’s room right now. His room never stays picked up for more than two minutes anyhow, so it’s not going to bother me much if he makes a mess in here. Another way to keep the kids rounded up is to play outside, either in the yard or at a park, or go somewhere.
2) Reduce the Mess Before It Happens. Have some house rules that regulate the mess. For example: My son is not allowed to drink any colored juice over carpet. Food is not allowed in the bedrooms -This can cause ants. Have your child eat at the table as much as possible. Have your children wash their face and hands as soon as they are done eating, unless you want chocolate or spaghetti sauce on your couch. My grandma used to insist everyone take off their shoes before they came inside. I used to think this was a bit extreme, but now I don’t! We have rain boots we wear in the yard and I have a tub we put them in as we come inside. The one day I didn’t follow my own rule I tracked mud all over my newly cleaned floors.
3) Everyone Makes the Mess, so Everyone Should Clean it! Have your children help you clean! I know some people are like, “They’re kids. They should play, not clean”. That’s just crazy talk. For one, they can do both! Secondly, if we applied that concept to a classroom it would be dangerous for the children. They would be tripping over each other’s stuff and getting hurt! Besides small kids actually like to clean. My son started helping change laundry over at the age of one. He loved pushing the baskets, and throwing the clothes in the dryer. My son loves doing dishes, granted there is some splashing mess that happens, but it is better than him running around the house unsupervised, making more even messes for me clean, possibly breaking things, and/or hurting himself.
4) Clean Up One Mess Before You Start Another. This is how a classroom stays clean. After every activity the kids clean up, and then we start something new. If we didn’t…well we discussed that on #3. Another point about this is that by cleaning in between projects things don’t get left out to get broken or lost.
5) Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. If your child is going to rummage through their clothes drawer, and mess up all the clothes you folded, and are too young to know how to fold…why are you folding them? Just get them in the drawer!
6) Harness the Power of the Vacuum! I vacuum almost everything! The window sills, the furniture, the electronics, the couch, the coffee table (Mine has groves dirt can get in so I find the vacuum pulls that out. I then wipe it down later.) , the curtains, the lampshades, the woven baskets, the books, the spider webs, the vents, the baseboards, the tile floors, the wooden floors, etc… I find it is the fastest way to get up the dirt. Your vacuum has should have different settings so you can turn off the brushes, and adjust the height. Use the attachments. By the way if your vacuum doesn’t have a Hepa filter, you’re probably just throwing the dirt back in the house. One exception is that I don’t vacuum anything but the floor in my kitchen. I wipe all of that down. Vacuuming it would just be double the work. I don’t vacuum the bathroom sinks either.
7) Get an Air Purifier. This will reduce the amount of dust in the air, so less dusting! I run mine while I vacuum and after for a while, on windy days, or if there is a fire in the area. I actually got mine when I lived in California during the “fire season”. We would get so much smoke in the area I would get sick from it.
8) Spot Treat. I have a Swiffer I let my son play with. It keeps him occupied and he just might get some of the mess! When it comes to the tile, in-between cleanings it is easiest just to wet Swiffer the spots instead of mopping the entire floor.
9) Have a System. Any teacher worth their weight in crayons will tell you that without systems in place kids will drive you crazy. I use that concept in my house. For example I have a system how the mail is handled, and for where toys go. When there is a system family members all know where to put things and do things, which means I don’t have to do it. I can have my two year old go put the wash rags or spatulas away, and he knows where they go! My husband can unload the dishwasher and I’ll be able to find the dishes! It’s great!
10) Call for Backup. It’s ok to ask for help every once in a while. Some household tasks are best not done with a small child’s “help”. For such tasks don’t be afraid to ask someone you trust to come over to play with your kids at your home, or take them to a park or something. I myself asked grandma to come over last week so I could do my taxes! This week my husband took the kids to their doctor while I stayed home to paint.
I hope these things help you out. There are more cleaning ideas I could give you, but this is a blog, not a book.
Feel free to share any other ideas you use around the home for our readers! Like I said, I’m not perfect at these. Some days spending time with my children on a special project gets priority over a clean home. Cleaning will always be there to do, but your children won’t always be the ages they are now. That’s my philosophy at least!