Saturday, April 25, 2015

Other random cleaning stuff

Yesterday, I posted a few pics of how I get vacuuming done. That post started out as this post actually. I was going to write about how I keep things relatively clean. Key word, relatively.
And then I decided that was boring.
But then I thought - I don't know, I liked reading stuff like that when I had one kid around and was trying to figure out my new normal as a stay at home mom. Plus, there's the whole remembering and recording normal life, not just interesting life. And guess what? My normal involves cleaning these days.

So I decided to go ahead and post it. It's a little more rambley than usual (yikes!). Oh well.

I used to enjoy cleaning. I found it somewhat therapeutic. Plus there's the whole instant gratification thing. You put some work into it, and everything sparkles and looks better immediately.

With kids, well... that's just not the case most of the time. Let's just say, our house looks "lived in" throughout the day. If you look closely at the background of most instagram pictures I post, you will see an appropriately messy house. Toys and laundry and books strewn about. I'm okay with it. We don't have a toy room, my kids are little, they dump everything out. It is what it is.

New game - pillow floor. 

Sometimes you can find my kids playing under the rug in the kitchen... what? 

BUT, tons of mess makes me feel a little nutty. Not when my kids are playing with it so much, but the aftermath. When there is clutter everywhere, it's hard for me to concentrate. I guess I fall in the 'neat freak' category.  

So for the sake of my slight obsession with organizing and neatness, and wanting everything "in its place," I've figured out a few tricks that work for us to keep the house relatively clean (which makes me feel calmer) and yet not spend a bunch of time on it... because ain't nobody got time for that!

Before I list them, here's a disclaimer. I read this article recently, A clean house and a wasted life
And I really like a lot of what he says. You should read the whole thing if you haven't, but the author ends with this: 
Like so much else in this life, you cannot have it all. You cannot have perfect order and perfect productivity. You cannot have a home that is warm and full and inviting, you cannot have every child fed and cared for, while also having every dish done and every sock laundered. You just can’t. Of course this isn’t to excuse slovenliness or laziness. But you need to understand what Derek Kidner says, that “Orderliness can reach the point of sterility. This proverb is [a plea for] the readiness to accept upheaval, and a mess to clear up, as the price of growth.” Growth, or productivity, as the case may be. Is a clean house proof of a wasted life? Not at all. But a tidy house isn’t necessarily evidence of a well-lived life. If you do the things God tells you to do, messes will inevitably follow. But take heart: According to the wisest man who ever lived, these messes are not proof of a wasted life, but of a productive one.
“Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox” (Proverbs 14:4).

Along those lines, please don't read this post and think you should clean your house more or you should clean like me. If you don't care or don't have time, don't do it. 

Here's why I clean:

1. I like a clean house. I blame my mom for this. She used to make us clean a lot and I guess it was contagious. 

2. I also like stuff in its place. There are few things more infuriating to me than not being able to find what you need when you need it. [Especially: keys, wallet, pacifier, or baby wipes.] It's right underneath the "customer service" people at an internet/cable company for me. 

3. And I want my kids to take care of their stuff. I don't want a bunch of extra stuff sitting around that we don't use. I'm admittedly a slight neat-freak. 

Now, don't get me wrong. My house is not always clean. It used to bug me, but 2 kids in, I've just accepted it. It would not be unusual to see some dried yogurt on the floor that I forgot to wipe up 5 days ago. Or tiny little shriveled up peas in the corner of the kitchen. And please don't look closely in places like corners or baseboards or, I don't know, the top of the refrigerator. 

One time I had some mom friends over for dessert (who had been over a few times before with their kiddos) and they said "woah, you're house looks different without toys everywhere!"  

So, these are not tricks for having a magazine-worthy-sparkling home my friends. 
Sorry, for that, you'll have to go elsewhere.
These are tips on what works for me. Maybe they'll work for the average-family-with-littles. Maybe not. 

This is how I spend as little time as possible cleaning only what I deem necessary. 

1. Clean when it looks dirty. It seems like some people have a cleaning day and some people clean a little every day. I used to have a cleaning day, but as my kids have gotten more active, I prefer to just do one thing per day. It tends to make the house feel kinda clean all the time rather than just for 3 hours after I finish a top-to-bottom house cleaning. 
Here are the things I rotate through: 
bathroom (we have 1... small house perks)
wiping surfaces of furniture
vacuum upstairs 
wash floors that aren't carpet (only the kitchen and bathroom) 
vacuum and tidy basement

I don't have a day of the week that I do each of those tasks. I just clean stuff when it looks dirty and I generally don't do more than one of those tasks each day. Each individual task takes 10-15 minutes max. 

2. Toy tidy every night. We don't have a play room - all the toys we own get kept in a storage hutch in the living room and with the exception of a few in Addie's room & a medium-size moving box full of toys kept in hiding that get rotated into the living room hutch. 

3. Dishes after every meal. I prefer to do this rather than letting them pile up all day. Partly because our old house with old windows and weird smells seems to attract bugs when it's warm & old food piled up on dirty dishes doesn't help. Plus Ben often does dinner dishes & it seems unfair to have him do all our dishes from the whole day. Ha! (Actually, now that I think about it.....) 
After dinner, we wipe down all counters, sink, and stove. Dishwasher usually runs overnight and I empty the next morning. 

4. I run a load of laundry start to folded and put away most days except weekends. Every so often I remember it's been a while since I did towels and sheets, so I throw in a load of those. 

5. If something is visually cluttery, I try to deal with the clutter when I notice it. 

6. I try not to have a lot of stuff around that we don't use on a regular basis. I air on the side of throwing things out or donating them, so this might have happened at our house once or twice: 
    ben: "renee have you seen my thingamabob?" 
    me: "oh you mean the green one?" 
    ben: "yeah!" 
    me: "i gave it to goodwill last week, sorry." 
    ben: "oh." 

woops! so, that's the downside of throwing out clutter i guess. but the upside is - less clutter! 

7. We have a few pick-up-after-yourself-systems in place for the kids, well Addie for now and Emma eventually.  
    * Montessori "work shelf" work always gets put away right away after finishing. 
    * Coat on hook and shoes by the door or in her bedroom closet when we get home from an outing. 
    * If she colors at some point, crayons and markers go back in the little containers on the the coloring table. 
    * Dishes to the counter after a meal. 
    * If we get out play-dough, paint, or another special type of activity, we put it all away when we're done. 
    * After brushing teeth, tooth brush and tooth paste go back in "her" drawer in the bathroom and stool gets put away.

I really like the saying "a place for everything and everything in its place." I choose not to spend time and energy stressing over a mess. Instead, we try to pick up after ourselves, minimize the extras, and clean when it looks dirty. And if I skip the yogurt on the floor for a few days in a row, oh well. 

Sometimes you clean and sometimes you just embrace the mess.  

So, do you clean? How often? I can't wait till my kids are old enough for more chores! ;) moms of older kids - bring on the tips and chore charts galore!