Whether you’re parenting a newborn or a clingy, teething baby or a toddler that needs a constant chaperone, it can be a challenge to get anything done. And if you do manage to get something cleaned, rest assured another mess is being created concurrently.
Such are the joys of parenthood!
Well, over the last decade of trying to juggle children and household chores, I’ve managed to pick up a few key tips along the way. They helped me manage my madness, so I’ll pass them on to you in case they may be useful to someone else!
I am NOT Suzy Homemaker, but I manage with these “hacks”.
Clean up messes as soon as they happen
This may sound like common sense. And it probably is. But for someone who didn’t get a formal education in cleaning while growing up, it was a game changer.
I believe I got this one from Martha Stewart. And we all know Martha is the queen of a clean, tidy home.
So that means when something spills and I watch it splatter on the floor in slow motion, I try to take care of it right away. Not continue with what I was doing while it dries and collects other dirt. These splatters seem to take on a life of their own and grow in size if left unchecked.
Cleaning them up right away minimizes any future cleaning I will have to do in that spot. After all, dirt collects dirt!
And let’s be real, cleaning up a fresh spill takes seconds, versus scrubbing a dried on, coagulated mess much later on.
Soap is soap
This golden nugget from the Fly Lady changed my world. I was once a perfectionist, so of course this soap was for that, etc. Soap manufacturers have convinced us that we need 15 different products and I definitely believed them.
Well along comes the Fly Lady and says, Nonsense! Soap is Soap! This means that when I find myself saying things like “Oh, no! I’m out of toilet bowl cleaner”, I instead say “Oh wait, soap is soap!”. This golden wisdom helps the momentum of cleaning in the moment continue. I squirt a little hand soap into the toilet bowl, scrub it and go on about my day.
There has been many a time when I have a free minute to clean something, only to realize that I’m out of the specific cleaner for that particular thing. Or that the cleaner is at the other end of the house.
With a baby on the move, these cleaning moments are fleeting. This concept helps me get past my perfectionism and just get the thing cleaned and move on.
Of course, use your judgement, all soap may not translate equally to everything, but generally speaking, this has been a very freeing concept.
Get to know your hot spots
Another golden wisdom of the Fly Lady is that there are always “hot spots” in your house. These are areas where the clutter tends to pile up. For me, it’s the extra kitchen counter. Not the main one, the side one. The one that doesn’t need to stay clean for eating purposes. Oh and it collects EVERYTHING.
If I manage to keep the area clean, it tends to stay clean. But if I let it get away, it very quickly gets out of control because everyone just piles their stuff on.
Hence the logic of the hot spots. As soon as you recognize yours, you can be conscious of keeping them clear, and in doing so, avoiding the future need to clean.
Again, the curse of perfectionism used to work against me – I thought if I didn’t have time to complete a task fully, there was no use in trying. Which ended up with me pretty depressed in a dirty house.
Now, I’m at a place where I try to be more flexible. Baby is on the move, so I go where baby goes and just try to tidy up something wherever we are. If I don’t have the opportunity to sort an entire load of laundry at once, I’m content doing it in chunks.
For instance, currently, we are working on re-painting all the oak trim in our house white. It’s a BIG project. Wherever baby goes, I just follow along with a brush and paint can and work on some piece of trim while he’s happily playing.
Being flexible instead of rigid helps me take the opportunities that are in front of my nose instead of being stuck on something in the past (or future).