Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Stop Telling Me the Cleaning and Scrubbing Can Wait Till Tomorrow Or How to Keep a Clean-ish Home.


Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
 
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue, Lullaby, rockabye, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peek-a-boo
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 his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullaby, rockaby lullaby loo.
 
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But 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.
– Ruth Hulbert Hamilton

Did you know that this is the longer version of that famous poem?

I didn't know there was any more to it other than the last verse until recently.

I like the longer version better, although I'm not a huge fan of the poem, overall. 




Oh sure...I think it has a good message for some people.  I think it is geared towards Type A housekeepers. 

I am NOT a Type A housekeeper. I'm not even a Type B housekeeper. I might be a Type C housekeeper. That might be overly generous though. 

I don't like cleaning.  I don't like organizing.  I enjoy absolutely NOTHING about cleaning.

That said...I DO enjoy being in a clean house. But, I don't like cleaning. 

So, I really do NOT need any encouragement NOT to clean. 

Yes, I get that babies need care and that caring for our children is important.  I get that we will never have perfectly clean homes while we have kids around. However, I've used my kids as an excuse to avoid housework for far too long.

We just moved two weeks ago and since getting everything put away and unpacked, we've been working together as a family at keeping the house clean.

This means stopping really bad habits that contributed to mess and starting newer, better habits.

You see...previously, I viewed cleaning as an "event."  It was something you did.  You were either cleaning or you weren't cleaning.  The kids would make messes all over the place all day...and then spend 2 hours cleaning them up each night. We never cleaned anything, unless it was specified cleaning time at the end of the day...and then it was a big event.

It was pretty much super stressful for everyone and no one was happy. 

I would occasionally get around to scrubbing the toilets or vacuuming the bedrooms but it was an event.  Something I did on a certain day, as in tomorrow, I'm going to clean the bathroom.

The problem is that, more often than not, tomorrow didn't come. I didn't get around to cleaning the bathroom or dusting anything.

Sure, I could keep up with the laundry and the dishes, but everything else, I just let go....because I viewed cleaning as something you do at a specific time, and that specific time just never came around. 

I've recently changed my mindset about cleaning.  We've implemented the following house rules, and they are actually working wonderfully at keeping the house reasonably clean at all times.  It's not perfect, but it's clean enough.

1) Keep stuff to a minimum and have a place for everything.  We moved from an 864 square foot house to a 3000 square food house. And oddly enough, our house is not that empty.  In fact, it is nicely full, without being overly crowded.  Which just goes to show you, how crowded our smaller house was.  And we really didn't have that much stuff. It's just that when you have 6 people in 860 square feet, it's going to be tight. 

The second part is having a place for everything.  We didn't used to have that. We used to keep our books just in bins and clothes in laundry baskets and you can imagine what a mess that was.  We didn't have the space for dressers or bookshelves.  We didn't have enough closets.  And now we do, so everything is put away and it makes a HUGE difference. HUGE.  So minimize your stuff and make sure you have a place to keep everything.  If you don't have a place to keep something...get rid of it.  Or get a bigger house. You decide. 

Plus, I don't know about you, but I don't see things out of place when a house is cluttered. I just don't. My eyes skim right over the paper on the floor or the pencil in the corner.  But when a house is less cluttered and more empty-ish, I do notice those things.  And, I do something about them. 

2) Not eating away from the kitchen.  Never, Ever.  We have a nice, big kitchen table, and I have no problem if the kids take their books or laptop or whatever over there so they can continue doing what they are doing, while eating.  But we always eat or drink in the kitchen.  NO EXCEPTIONS.  Because I know myself..as soon as I start making exceptions, there is another exception and another one and another one and soon there is food and dishes all over the house and it's a huge mess.  Eating away from the table contributes to mess in a major way, so now I'm super strict that all food and drink is consumed in the kitchen and that is IT.

3) When you are done with something, put it away.  Immediately.  Right away.  Put the pencil back, put the crayons away, put the book away, put the toy away, pick up the towel. Put the dish in the sink. It takes awhile to form this habit, but it is SO worth doing. 

4) Shoes off in the house and on outside.  This is big.  Wearing shoes outside, but not inside significantly cuts down on the amount of dirt in the house.  But this only works if kids put shoes on to go outside.  For my typical barefoot children, this has been an adjustment. A major one.  But they are learning. 

This rule has another big advantage.  We keep all our shoes in the mudroom, right off the back door.  Which means they are always there.  We know right where they are.  NO MORE LOST SHOES. Shoes don't go into the bedrooms or family room or basement or any other room.  They stay in the mudroom when not being worn out of the house. 

5) If you see something out of place..put it away, right away...when you see it.  It really doesn't take that much time and does make a HUGE difference. 

4) If you see something is dirty..clean it..right away.  A quick swipe of the mirror or swipe of the toilet or wiping down of the counter or sweeping of the floor or mopping up of a spot or dusting a windowsill makes a huge difference.  You don't have to make a big deal out of dusting on Monday and mopping on Tuesday and cleaning the bathroom on Wednesday.  Although you can do that if you want to. But that doesn't work for me. What works for me, is cleaning something when I notice it is dusty or dirty or messy.  It honestly doesn't take much time to wipe down a bathroom mirror while brushing my teeth, or swipe the toilet real quick after using it or wipe down the dryer if I notice it has a lot of lint on it or wipe the fridge if I notice dirty fingerprints. It helps immensely to keep cleaning cloths and other supplies handy in each room...so these things can be done quickly without having to gather supplies.

I don't notice the time it takes to do those things if I just do them as I am going along.  Using the carpet sweeper really quickly on a rug when I notice dirt takes less emotional strain on me than thinking oh no, Monday is vacuuming day.  I have to fit vacuuming in tomorrow.  And I have so much stuff to do. Aaargh.  I'll do it Tuesday.  Then it never happens of course. 

This is another reason to keep everything picked up.  If everything is picked up, it's easier to notice dirt and clean real quick. 

I personally do not do well with the whole, do housebreak on specified days thing.  I do much better if I just clean as I notice something is dirty. 

I don't like cleaning, so if I have to think about it too much, I'm not going to do it.  But I can do a quick swipe here, a quick dust there.  I'm much better at cleaning on the fly than planning out a cleaning schedule.  


And this is how I'm managed to somewhat reform my former, messy, slovenly ways. 

Do you have any tips for keeping a clean-ish house without actually cleaning?  Because I still hate cleaning, especially when it becomes an event.
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