3 Myths About Cleaning with Kids and How I Clean to Overcome Them
Being a mother, I wear many different hats. I’m a nurse, a chef, a referee, a chauffeur – and that’s just before school starts most days. The hat that I have to admit I hate wearing the most though, is the maid hat. I hate to clean.
Growing up, my mother stressed to me the importance of having a clean home. While I struggled to keep my one, small room clean, she managed to keep the rest of the house in pristine condition. She made it look so easy. As I got a little older, I began hearing friends who had already had children complain of the mess that came along with them, but I didn’t worry too much. My mom knew how to keep a clean house, and I had learned from her, so I would be good to go, right? Oh my. Was I was wrong.
From the moment kids belongings entered my home, it was a downhill spiral. I will admit, for a while, I threw out the concept of even trying to keep a clean house as I thought it was a pointless effort. I bought into the three big lies of cleaning with kids. Until, one day, my eyes were opened to see that there is hope to cleaning – it’s simply a daily journey.
1.The Dishes Will Never Be Done
In the past, the pile of dirty dishes, and the speed at which that pile would regenerate and grow larger, just amazed me. I felt overwhelmed and unable to keep up. I would empty the sink of all the dirty dishes, and before the dishwasher even finished running, there would be more dishes in the sink waiting for their turn to be washed.
Then, I learned a trick. When I heard this the first time, a lightbulb came on in my mind – and I admit for a moment I had a “DUH!” moment. It seemed so simple that I was baffled why it had never occurred to me before. Hide them, during the day, in the dishwasher!
Now, I don’t literally mean hide the dishes. I mean, during the day, as dishes come into the kitchen, rinse them and put them in the dishwasher. Now close the dishwasher door. Look – No Dirty Dishes! At night, as you’re ready to go to bed, start the dishwasher. No dishes are getting dirtied while everyone is sleeping, so the sink should stay clean. (And, even if someone sneaks a midnight snack, it’s only a dish instead of a sink full of them.) In the morning, empty the dishwasher by putting away the clean dishes. Repeat these steps daily.
A simple routine, loading throughout the day, running the dishwasher at night, and then putting the dishes away each morning, will keep your dishes under control. This small change can make a huge step towards keeping your kitchen clean.
2. The Laundry Will Never Be Done
Mountains of laundry. Smelly, dirty, nasty laundry piled so high that you literally have to walk around it instead of being able to step over it. The thought makes me cringe now, but I admit, at one point in my past, this was my laundry room.
Thankfully, I have since learned to stay on top of my laundry better! The system is very similar to the dishes logic above. At bedtime, everyone takes the clothes that they wore that day and puts them directly in the washing machine. When you get dressed in the morning, you put the pajamas that are ready for washing – you guess it – directly into the washer. Once everyone has left for school, it’s time to start the washer. When it ends, it’s off to the dryer and when they’re ready they go to the table to be folded. By the time everyone gets home from school/work, their laundry is on the table ready for them to put it away.
Now, there are times when extra loads are needed. Let’s face it, as a family of five we create quite a bit of laundry! And so there are times when the laundry basket holds the overflow until there is enough for an extra load to be ran. In our house, that’s about every other day. Sometimes it is even every day, like in the summer when extra play clothes, swim towels, etc are used often.
This system isn’t perfect. There are times when the kids laundry doesn’t come down as it should which creates an extra basket (or two, or three) to be brought down at once and backs up the whole system. However, it has brought me very far away from the laundry mountain days!
3. The House Will Never Be Completely Clean
There’s always a mess somewhere. There is always something that needs to be dusted, swept, moped, scrubbed, washed. Always. This house will never be clean. How did I overcome this one? One word. Acceptance. I have come to accept the fact that no matter how hard I try, or what plan I try to follow – my house will never be perfect. The kids will come home and muddy footprints will show me exactly which one forgot to wipe their feet. The random lego will be left on the floor, which will not be discovered until I step upon it. The nerf bullet will be on the couch in a million tiny pieces, because not only did it get lost when it was shot, but the dogs found it and thought it made for a delicious chew toy. No matter how “on top of it” I try to stay, we live here. We play here. We make memories here. We live here.
The Bottom Line
There will be a time in my life when my house will be spotless. That time will come when the kids are grown and gone. And, I truly believe, that I will miss the mess that comes with them being here. I will miss the mess that comes from being with my children. So, for the time being, I have accepted that the house won’t be perfectly clean. And that’s perfectly fine by me.
Working towards having a clean house is an important, daily task. Let’s not lose sight of the most important challenge though, and that is raising happy, healthy children to become amazing adults who will go on to change this world in miraculous ways. Finding the proper balance between the two is where true happiness lies!
How do you balance making memories and keeping your house clean?
I’d love to hear, and learn your secrets to success!