Cleaning is quite possibly my least favorite activity in the world. Actually, it might even be a tie between cleaning and exercise. I’ve even been known to refer to both as an allergy.
I’m not sure I would have signed up for this stay at home mom gig if I had known the amount of cleaning involved. Add in the second kiddo and the tack on teen and even when I try I can barely make a dent. Besides I’d rather be reading, or playing with the kids, or basically doing ANYTHING other than cleaning. I do have a weird fetish with buying cleaning supplies, though, but I may need to talk to my therapist about that.
So instead of giving this ghastly task so much attention and trying unsuccessfully to change this about myself, I simply subscribe to a new way of thinking. It’s called mess avoidance. Check out these rules we employ so there is less mess:
- No pets. As much as everyone would love a dog, I can barely clean up after myself, let alone the kids. And you know no one else is going to do it. Sorry, kiddos.
- Wear shoes outside. This means: do not go outside barefoot or even in socks. And while we don’t go all the way to no shoes in the house (I’d never win that battle), it does at least prevent filthy feet from tracking dirt upstairs where we do have a no shoe rule (previous owners chose white carpeting!).
- Eat in the kitchen. Not in the living room, not in your bedroom, no exceptions. I’ve seen what ends up on/under the kitchen table during mealtimes. Not willing to risk it.
- Drink in the kitchen. One exception being water (not so hard to clean up).
- Wash your hands. I am often surprised at the sheer number of parents I know that do not teach this to their kids. Either they like cleaning or their kids don’t get messy hands. No thanks!
- Contain the dirt in specific areas. One way we do this is by designating one side of the sink for clean dishes and the other for dirty dishes. Don’t let me catch you putting any dirty items or even food on the clean side!
- Rinse dishes immediately. Even better, put them in the dishwasher immediately (ahem, husband).
- Keep dirt from spreading. Since we do most messy things in the kitchen, that is where most of our dirt lives. Keeping the kitchen cleaned up, and floor vacuumed prevents the trail from being walked through the house.
- Dry wet areas on the floor immediately. If you wear shoes in the house like we do, any wet spot will pull the dirt from your shoes onto your floor.
- Use a microwave cover. If you don’t have one you need this – unless of course you like cleaning every little crevice of the microwave.
- Use a splatter guard. I typically don’t fry anything (not worth the mess) but who could live without bacon? I use an extra-large all in one lid that can fit every pan I own.
- Use chair covers. They must be washable and cover underneath the kids’ booster seats. We also use these in the cars as well to protect the seats from the car seats.
- Use bibs. Much to my mother-in-law’s dismay, the 4-year-old still wears one if we are eating something messy.
- Buy products that can be easily washed. This is more of a rule of thumb than specific products. In general, for all baby items, I made sure that all covers were removable and could be machine washed. Because: babies.
- Use a large canvas for arts & crafts. We use the same one repeatedly, and I don’t care if it’s caked with paint, it dries.
- Art supplies live under lock and key. If your child can get to them on their own you will likely find their artwork in unexpected places.
- Get naked. If you are going to eat something ridiculously messy or do really messy arts & crafts, I often just strip the kids down. They are easier to clean than their clothes.
- Take it outside (not to be combined with getting naked above). If it’s really messy, take it outside. For example, we husk corn outside to avoid the silky strings going everywhere.
- Use garbage can liners. Because I’d rather die than clean out a disgusting garbage can.
- Rinse toothpaste spit down immediately. I’ll take it a step further and suggest that one should attempt to aim for into the sink when spitting said toothpaste (not the mirror, or the faucet, or the counters).
- Limit the number of toys. This is hubby’s rule and it certainly does help since the kids don’t seem to want to pick anything up without a fight, and yours truly doesn’t really want to do it either!
The beauty of employing a few simple practices is that you can go a really long time before other people start to notice how dirty your house really is. It is a bit of a wake-up call that I need to mop the floor when the kids’ feet are black. I should probably be doing that now…
Do you have similar rules? Please share any tips, I am always looking for ways to clean less!
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