Picture this for me: Your house is clean. I mean really clean. Like, Grandma-is-coming-to-visit clean. You sit down for the first time and take a deep breath. It even smells clean.
You’re basking in your domestic glory for a total of thirteen seconds when, as if your toddler knows on instinct you’ve cleaned the house, he wakes up from his nap.
Ten minutes later, it’s as if you never. even. tried.
Does this sound familiar? Sometimes the prospect of keeping a clean house with tiny humans running around can be overwhelming. Raise your hand if you’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time browsing Pinterest for housekeeping hacks.
Yeah, me too.
I suppose the irony here is that I could have used that time to actually clean. 🙂
I guess it wasn’t time wasted though, because in the midst of all that I had an epiphany. A light bulb moment. There really is a better way.
You just have to answer two questions. Two questions that will change the way you clean…forever.
What Space Needs to Be Clean for My Family to Function at Their Best?
Perhaps in a former life you were the Queen of Clean. Nothing was left out of place, no bed left unmade, no sock left behind.
Suddenly, your free-spirited firstborn entered the picture, whose specialty happens to be unfolding all the laundry before it makes it to the dresser.
The list of chores that have to be (re)done adds up really fast, doesn’t it?
Instead of allowing yourself to get overwhelmed by all that has to be done, let’s try to determine which rooms or chores affect your family the most. Hopefully, this will help narrow your focus and lighten your load.
Kicking Back in the Kitchen
Is your kitchen the heart of your home? The place where sleepy-eyed sleepy heads eat their cereal, siblings color and laugh together,and your family gathers at the end of a long day for a shared meal and fellowship?
This might be the room you need to zone in on if:
- Nothing makes mama crankier than Cheerios living happily in every nook and cranny of the kitchen floor.
- Your kiddos fight over their toys in the family room, but can happily coexist when there’s a bucket of crayons and some printer paper spread out in front of them at the table.
- Your life motto is “a clear counter means a clear head.”
If this is you, then you may want give the kitchen a little extra TLC so your family is able to kick back and relax.
Try narrowing your focus to these chores:
- Complete the full dishwashing cycle every day (and consequently never leave dishes in the sink overnight).
- Sweep or vacuum the floor after each meal. (Yes, vacuum your kitchen floor! I can’t stand using a broom, but love this vacuum with an undying love!)
- Wipe down the counters and appliances before bed.
Would your entire home seem a little more under control if you checked these tasks off your daily to-do list?
The Well-Loved Living Room
Maybe you’re not a kitchen family, but more of a toaster waffles on the couch, read stories on the big comfy chair, gobble up play-doh cookies at the coffee table kind of family.
The living room may need your attention if:
- You find yourself glaring at the couch cushions gone rogue. You know the ones I’m talking about: they slip and slide and never stay in place, and make you miss your 1980’s sectional every day of your life.
- Reading stories in a tidy room would make you feel calmer.
- Your resident tiny architect loves to dump out all the blocks…right before dinner.
Your living room might be a happier space if you make these chores part of your daily routine:
- Vacuum those waffle crumbs.
- Tidy the toys.
- Wipe off the coffee table.
- Tackle those couch cushions.
Would your family thrive if you made the living room more of a priority?
Minding the Master Suite
Mom, sometimes it doesn’t matter if the entire house is spotless. Knowing your own room is in shambles might be enough to send you over the edge. And if momma ain’t happy…
- Do you find yourself restless if you’re turning in at night in a room that’s been neglected?
- Is climbing into an unmade bed after you’re beat from trying to keep up with the rest of the house wearing you out?
- Are the dust bunnies nightmare-inducing?
Keeping your own physical space clean can free up valuable head space for handling those everyday messes.
Why not take a little time each night to tidy it up?
- Put away any clothes–they either are clean enough to fold or hang up, or they go in the hamper. (For a space saver that keeps things off the floor, these hanging hampers are my go to)
- Pick up any trash that needs to be tossed.
- Clear the bedside tables.
- Round up any stray toys, socks, or miscellaneous toddler treasures that have migrated to your room to put away tomorrow.
- Bonus: try making your bed as soon as you get up, and see how it changes your perspective!
If all you really want is to go to bed and wake up in a room that doesn’t resemble the rest of the house, you’ve found your winner in the master bedroom. Make it your sanctuary and wake up refreshed.
Now that we’ve pinpointed exactly which room or rooms your family needs clean in order to function at its best, let’s move on to the second question.
How Clean Is Clean Enough?
Can you handle some cold, hard, truth?
A weekly top-to-bottom clean is likely not in the cards for most of us. We will of course always have those days where we power clean before we host guests or when we can’t remember the last time we mopped the floor (and for those instances, sometimes a little extra help like this cleaning service can go a long way for an overwhelmed mom).
We can’t keep our homes white glove worthy all the time. We can, however, focus on just how clean the most used rooms in our house need to be for our families to function at their best. What might that look like for you?
Let me introduce three moms, Sandy the Stay-at-Home Mom, Whitney the Work-at-Home-Mom, and Cindy the CEO, and see how they interpret “clean” in their homes. Which of these can you identify with most?
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Cleaning Type #1: Comfortable with Clutter
Sandy the Stay-at-Home Mom knows her family needs their bedrooms clean every night before bed. They play in there throughout the day, and love their little library corner. She also knows that when she labelled their toy boxes and neatly lined up the stacks of books, they never stayed the way she put them. She felt like she fought a losing battle every day trying to keep things sorted.
Sandy’s kids need tidy rooms, but she has realized that they play just as well when the books are in a neat stack on the floor rather than shelved. They find their toys fine when they’re rounded up in one bin and don’t mind sorting through them to find what they’re looking for.
Sandy’s game plan:
- She’ll concentrate on neatly stacking books.
- She’ll pick out some cute toy storage options for the living room.
- She’ll focus on general organization rather than specific organization.
Cleaning Type #2: A Well-Oiled Machine
Whitney the Work-at-Home Mom has to keep her workspace separate from the play spaces. Too many times she’s had to drop a project she’s working on to dig around in a pile of toys. Clutter and chaos makes it harder to get her work done in the time she’s carved out to do it and takes away from the time she can spend with her family.
To keep life running smoothly, she needs a good organizational system. She’s not always able to stop what she’s doing to help track down a toy, so a label maker and color-coded boxes, bins, and baskets help keep everything under control. If she doesn’t straighten out the office and playroom each night, she’s not able to get work done the next day.
Whitney’s tidy tricks:
- She’ll group like items in well-marked bins.
- She’ll use a color system so her little ones can find things and help pick up.
- She’ll end her day with a clean work space so she’s ready to conquer the world tomorrow.
Cleaning Type #3: Somewhere in Between
Cindy the CEO and her family don’t spend a ton of time at home, but they like to make the most of the time they do spend there. Some days, she’s able to tackle all the chores she wants, and other days the chores fall by the wayside.
As long as there’s a general sense of order, she’s not going to sweat it. She chips away at her to-do’s throughout the week, and on the weekends hits her most used rooms as thoroughly as she can. Her priorities might be a little more fluid than they have been before, but as a result, she’s not as overwhelmed by her list of chores.
- She’ll never leave a room empty-handed, which helps cut down on clutter.
- She’ll spend a couple of minutes doing a quick tidy-up each evening.
- She’ll choose to take a deep breath when the laundry mountain rivals Mt. Everest and wait for the weekend to tackle the big chores.
Choose What Is Best for You.
Your sister-in-law might keep a near spotless house that would put Martha Stewart to shame. Good for her! That doesn’t mean you have to.
Every family looks different. And you know what? What your family needs might look different through each season of your life.
What if you kept in mind how your family functions best before attacking your chore list? Would it paint a more realistic picture of your circumstances and season?
By narrowing down your priorities, and then deciding what you define as clean enough, you may be able to focus your attention and energy, striking the allusive balance between time spent on chores and time spent with family.
A Little Perspective
Someday sooner than any of us want to admit, we won’t be chasing a one-year old sock thief down the hallway, and the whole house will be spotless. It may be hard to believe now, but there come a time when you’re going to miss that pile of toys in the corner.
Until that day arrives, though, answering these two questions will relieve a ton of extra stress you’ve got sitting on your shoulders.
It’s time to change the way you clean, friend. It’s time to let go of that guilt and pressure and finally create a system that will work FOR family time, and not against it.
What rooms need your attention? What does “clean enough” mean for your family?
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