Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Betsy's Housecleaning Tips for Sane Moms

Preface: Abe tells me this post is too raw and real and I will probably gross people out. Sorry--these things need to be said.

When it comes to housekeeping, there is "messy" and there is "dirty". In a house full of children, messy is fine- even admirable because it means kids are being kids and mom is not neurotic. A messy house is very "lived in".

Dirty is not okay. Dirty is unsanitary. Dirty is embarrassing. Dirty is stinky. Sometimes my house gets "dirty", but mostly I hope to stay within "messy". Well, I'd like to be "clean", but I have to be realistic.

I've talked with a few of my sister-in-laws to get their tips for housecleaning. I won't tell which ones are theirs and which are mine. That way if one of my tips totally grosses you out you won't know it's mine! However, I do agree with all the them.

Betsy's Housecleaning Tips for Sane Moms:

1. Your kitchen floor does not need to be clean enough to eat off of. You shouldn't be eating off your floor anyway. When there are crumbs sticking to your bare feet, sweep the floor. If your floor has a sticky spot, get a wet rag and wipe it up. If you are having a dinner party, mop your floor, but stop looking at your floor so much. Nobody else cares, why should you?

2. Cobwebs. If there aren't any spiders on them, ignore them.

3. The toilet. Why does the toilet bowl have to be so sparkly clean? You are just going to go potty in it and--whamo!-- it's totally dirty again. So, when you see a ring, clean it. There is no reason to clean it before you see a ring. Pee-pee spots should be cleaned immediately, lest you cross into "dirty".

4. Bedsheets. Don't change them unless the they are peed or barfed on. These things happen quite frequently with little children, so don't worry- you will have clean sheets.

5. Dishes. Do not do your dishes until your sink is all the way full. Your sink and dishwasher capacities match up perfectly. Load your dishwasher full in one fell swoop. It is perfectly fine for dishes to sit in your sink until you get to them. If you start to smell your dishes then you know you have waited too long to do your dishes.

6. Laundry. You need to wear clean clothes everyday. Wearing dirty clothes puts you across the "dirty" line. But there is no need to have every article of clothing clean at the same moment. There is no reward for having all your laundry washed folded and put away. Your laundry pile will regenerate in a few short hours.

I'm mostly serious about all of these.

I don't mean to gross anyone out and I hope you don't think I'm disgusting. But I find many more rewarding things to do than obsessively clean my house. Housekeeping is an art and I do not resent my time spent cleaning and time spent teaching children to clean, but cleaning is not my hobby. I enjoy taking care of my family's physical needs, but no matter how much you clean, it is just going to get dirty again.
If cleaning is your hobby, then you should clean until you can clean no more. Everyone needs a hobby. But if you spend tons of time cleaning because you think that is what you are "suppose" to do and that is what a good mom does--- then RELAX and enjoy your little people!


Mothership said...

Amen to the last part.

I'm afraid I cross into the "dirty" a little too often, but have come to terms (kinda) with it. However, I LOVE when the laundry and dishes are caught up. If those were my only two standards my life would be much easier.

Marj said...

I agree with Emily-
If I only had to do the dishes and laundry I think I would have a clean home. My problem area is organizing. I look at a pile and have no idea what to do with it. I want to throw it all away or hide it somewhere until I run onto it again; or even worse until my husband runs onto it and wonders what this pile is all about.
I think that most days I should take a chill pill and enjoy my life with my kids a little more.

ArgentineAbuelos said...

I'm afraid your mother and I must share some of the blame for your outlook on housekeeping perfection. Actually your philosophy sounded exactly right on to me, so no need to share blame. Your great kids also demonstrate the excellent balance in your perspective.
Love, Dad