Before the boys came along I spent much of my free time exploring my appreciation of the domestic arts. I enjoyed cleaning, cooking, baking, interior design, so much so that my friends and family jokingly referred to me as Bree, after the anally retentive homemaker Bree Van de Kamp of Desperate Housewives, which was my favorite scripted television show. After children, however, I feel less like Bree and more like Lynette Scavo…overworked, overstressed, and over it when it comes to trying to keep the perfect home.
Old habits, however, die hard and this creature of habit cannot thrive in chaos. Disarray and clutter are conditions that I cannot function in and as I pass on my borderline OCD to my offspring…twin A demands napkins at dinner so he can systematically wipe his table space…I’ve devised some shortcuts to help keep this place clean even at my busiest…and most exhausted.
The Sheet Cheat : In a perfect world I would change my sheets every weekend. I used to do this, but being that now the second I get to touch the bed I’m pretty much passing out in it, that no longer flies. There are things that you can do to keep your sheets looking cleaner longer, for example don’t eat in bed, but even the cleanest looking sheets have a certain ick factor. Sorry folks you have to change them, but you can cut down the weekly sheet duty to bi weekly with this simple trick. By using your top sheet tucked in over your fitted sheet you get a double layer. Spend a week on the top sheet and next week take it off. Voila! Clean sheet underneath. That laundry and fitted sheet wrestling can wait to mid month!
Kick The Bucket : Have you seen the Swiffer commercial where the old women in the family scoff at the younger woman’s tendency to clean the floor with a housecleaning wipe and her foot? This next tip is the middle of the road. I NEVER use a bucket to clean my floors. It’s heavy, it splashes, and after a few dips you are washing your floors with dirty cleaner…ewww! Toss the bucket and grab the spray bottle. Use a product like Swiffer Wet and Windex to shine your tile. For wooden floors I like Parker and Bailey wood floor cleaner. For you organic folks you can make cleaner out of vinegar and water…but your house will smell like salad. The main idea however isn’t the product it’s spray and mop, and it’s a lot less work than the bucket. Want the shine to last longer? Make your family wear socks or slippers when they walk around indoors.
Create a Stainless Steel : I dreamed of stainless steel appliances…before I had them. Nobody told me how hard they are to keep clean, especially towards the bottom where they are prone to toddler hand and canine nasal prints. Before the kids I would use this highly toxic miracle spray a friend would give me from his maintenance job where he cleaned elevator doors. The fumes were frightening though, and I feared what affect they would have on little lungs. Then one day while watching HGTV I saw a tip about olive oil to polish stainless steel. It works! Clean your SS appliances with a household cleaning wipe and then polish with a small amount of olive oil on a paper towel. The rest of the week they are practically print resistant and any smudges that break the barrier wipe off in a cinch!
Shower With Your Shower : Cleaning the shower can be a pain, literally, why not just scrub the walls while you are already in there and the water is running? Just take precaution not to poison yourself. Pre treat the walls beforehand and rinse. Then scrub them during your shower.
Baby Your Wood : Wood furniture requires special care. Many cleaners are too harsh and those made for wood release toxins in the air and leave a residue. Baby wipes are gentle enough to clean your wood with and they do a fantastic job, just be sure to dust first.
A Tisket, a Tasket : Baskets are amazing! One of the things that parents complain about are how toys have taken over their homes. By keeping things in baskets you can camouflage the play things as part of the decor. They also help train your kids to clean up. Set the baskets out and play the sorting game, they love it!
Take a Load Off : Weekends were supposed to be for relaxation, but when you have a family you find that weekends are for laundry. If you are lucky enough to have your own washing machine and dryer you can lessen some of the time by leaving the last load in the dryer for the week…and make sure it’s the largest load. As you pluck things from it to use it gets smaller and smaller, less to fold and put away when you start the following week’s laundry marathon. Just make sure you air dry and put away anything that can wrinkle.
I have to confess, with twins, a dog, and a husband, when somebody enters my home and says, “How do you keep this place so clean and organized” the heavens open up and I hear the angels sing. Here’s hoping you can adopt some of these into your routine and lighten your load.