Thursday, February 3, 2011

{On Cleaning}

I am far from a great housekeeper, and actually have a pretty high tolerance for messes - somewhat of a good thing, I think, in light of the four urchins that live and learn and create within our home.  Even so, some things are dirtier than even I like, and I was thinking about this and wondering why other moms' have cleaner homes and how that is possible.

And then I realized it:  We've chosen to make our home truly the center of our family.  We homeschool, and therefore all these children that would be elsewhere during the day are here.  I don't work, so I am here.  My husband is home midday from work, so he is home.  We are all here for most of the day.  That right there is going to necessitate a bit more elbow grease.  I am also choosing to have our 5th child here, in our own house, so I am wanting to get a handle on a do-able system before labor starts and I'm trying to quickly clean a disastrous house.

When children and husbands are at school and work all day, they don't use your bathrooms.  Therefore, your bathrooms stay cleaner, longer.  Mine do not stay clean for very long.  With 5 people using the bathrooms here (and the baby making the occasional mess, just for fun), they were getting dirty.  And I wasn't understanding that maybe I can't be one of those people who cleans bathrooms once a week.  I sweep my floors twice a day, shouldn't I be at least checking on bathrooms at least as often?

So I came up with a plan - perhaps not very ingenious,  and actually based a bit on the practice of public bathrooms (I know, I know, gross.).  My thinking is this:  I am the manager of this house.  It is my responsibility to check on things and make sure they are going well.  So, the plan:  A check list in each bathroom.  A spray bottle of all purpose cleaner and a small stack of rags.  Each time I use the bathroom, I check everything.  Mirror ok?  Check.  Vanity?  Check.  Toilet?  Check.  Toilet paper? Check.  If anything needs adjusting, I do it right then.  The Bathtub is left off this list, I do think once a week is enough for that.  A quick wipe off of the counter or cleaning of a mirror will take mere seconds, and I'll have the confidence of a clean bathroom every day.

Maybe this is already the way you do things.  As I said, I'm not much of a housekeeper - these things take me a bit longer.

Any tips for keeping the house clean on a daily basis?

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  1. At what age will your kids start doing chores? I think taking some responsibility for cleaning up after themselves and their siblings really helps with the mess. (Maybe not in the bathroom, ours always looks terrible unless people are coming over, or I have morning sickness because I hate puking in a dirty bathroom!) Growing up we all had jobs, and my kids have responsibilities.

  2. My kids also have jobs! I recently gave my oldest the job of cleaning the toilet bowls (who knew? He thinks it is the most awesome job EVER!). My kids set and clear the table, load their own dishes into the dish washer, bring down laundry, take out trash, bring back trashcans, and pick up toys at the end of the day.

  3. You sound awesome at keeping a clean house, Lydia. I have never been much of a homemaker. I am figuring it all out as I go. Our house is cluttered and not exactly "clean". It has been something I have been trying to figure out (one of the many!) all these 6 years we have been married and raising babies. I feel like homeschooling, cooking, raising and nurturing kids, and being pregnant often is enough to make me exhausted half the time,and the other half I spend just trying to enjoy it all! My cleaning habits kick in when I "just can't stand it anymore!", or when we are having company, or when we have just had an illness go through our home! And that's about it. But I love your ideas and may introduce them into my day... they seem very manageable. Thanks for the post!

  4. I think you have to figure out what is really important to you and your hubby and those things you keep up daily, the other things don't have to be done daily. For instance, in our home, having finger prints on windows drives my hubby insane. So, I keep up with the constant wiping of the french door glass and the windows that are within reach of my not yet 2 yr old. Things that bother me are dirty toilets and dirty kitchen those are the things I do often. But my bathroom mirrors are spotted and I don't bother with them daily.
    I will say, I think it is wise to do something for a few minutes daily, rather then let it pile up and have to spend hours on it all at once. So if it is doable for you to pee, then wipe the mirrors and the sink and scrub the toilet a couple times daily, do it. Once it is a habit, it'll be second nature. If that is important to you.
    You LIVE in your house and so things are going to be disheveled with reason. It's okay. You live there. Things are generally clean underneath all the books and toys and crayons and clothes and half cut pieces of paper and blankies and dolls and match box cars.
    I have a friend with six children and one day we were talking on the phone and I mentioned I had to sweep again for the umpteenth time that day and she said, "Oh Danielle, don't. You always intimidate me with how clean your house is. Stop intimidating other moms." She was right. So I grabbed a book instead and relaxed with my littles and left the crumbs to the dog. Everything within reason. What is important to you and hubby? Really important.

  5. Great post, Lydia. I have been dealing with the same kind of issues. I made check lists and that has helped a lot. For the bathroom, I made my own "Clorox Wipes" so that it was easy for who ever was in the bathroom to grab a wipe, wipe down the counters, mirrors, etc. Since they are chemical free, the kids can even do it and they think it is fun. Every other night, when we give the children baths, I use bleach wipes and wipe down everything and clean the toilet. It takes me literally 5 minutes. I have to be in the bathroom anyway while the children are in the tub so I try to make the best of my time while they are playing. And since things have been wiped down throughout the day, its not a lot of work. Now, if anyone has a plan for dishes, I am in desperate need of help in that area!!

  6. Try reading It has helped me a lot. She does something similar in the bathroom. It's worth reading.

  7. I loathe the Flylady. It only made me feel worse about my housecleaning abilities. The only thing I came away with was making sure the kitchen was clean before bed. It helps my mornings go more smoothly.

    Awesome that your kids have jobs. My have a love/hate relationship with their chores. But since they know they are expected its not a fight.

  8. One of the best pieces of advice my mom gave me about house keeping was to just try to keep things picked up - preferrably in the evening after all the little ones have gone to bed! This way, you get the illusion of a clean house (never mind that dust on the TV set!) and a feeling of accomplishment for the day. As my kids have gotten older, they too contribute and have their "jobs". I love your idea about having a check list in the bathroom (even if just in your mind) to run through each time you're in there. Taking just a few minutes in each room throughout the day can, in the long run, go along way!

  9. Must be something in the air...I spent part of the evening writing out "to do" lists for cleaning each room in our apartment. I separated the lists into Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and As Needed.

    My mom has suggested having specific days for clothes washing: Sheets and towels on Monday, Whites on Tuesday, Colors on Wednesday, etc.

    We've been on a haphazard cleaning/laundry plan since our son was born 21 m ago. My hope is that having a written outline to guide us will help us avoid procrastination and make home keeping just a normal part of everyday living!

  10. Song for a Fifth Child

    by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

    Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
    Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
    Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
    Sew on a button and make up a bed.
    Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
    She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

    Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
    Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
    (Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
    The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
    And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
    But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
    Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
    (Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

    The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
    For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
    So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

  11. I've always loved that poem, Danielle!!! Definitely good perspective to keep. I know my house will be absolutely shocking this summer while I enjoy my brand new babe! There is nothing more quickly fleeting or more precious than those moments <3.

  12. Is your oldest in the 6-8 year old range? I have a 7 year old who LOVES to clean our toilet, he ASKS to clean it everyday. I always thought it was a little strange, but now I'm a little relived that he is not the only one.

  13. Len - it is funny you mention that. My 7 year old son loves to clean the toilet! I say have at it!


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