I used to HATE cleaning. Like, loathe would be a good word choice. However, things changed the more kids I had. Now, it's almost like cleaning is my outlet and my release. There is very little that makes me happier (in a calm and peaceful way) than our house being clean. Better yet would be a clean house, with perfect vacuum lines, all laundry folded and put away and the entire place smelling like laundry soap, or some other scent like coconut lime verbena. Ha! Maybe that's taking it too far. Annnnnyway, the question I get from many people is how do you keep your house clean with 4 young kids at home. Well, it's not easy. And honestly, it's never done. Just when I think my house is clean, someone goes and messes it up. <sigh> Life with young children.
Really though, during the school year, I have a great routine going. While the girls nap in the afternoon, I clean. Then, when the boys get home from school and the girls wake up, the house is feeling clean, dinner has been prepped (usually) and we can just play. That's the plan, anyway. I find it much harder to be consistent in the summer. And cleaning is so much more frustrating. You know the saying, "cleaning with kids is like shoveling snow in a snow storm." Yeah, that. It's super frustrating. I've learned to lower my expectations and just do the surface type stuff (to keep my sanity). I figure the deep cleaning can happen again once school starts up in the fall. We've hired housekeepers the past couple of summers, but honestly, it almost feels like a waste of money because of how quickly things get dirty again. Our fabulous, amazing nanny takes care a lot of our daily chores during the school year, leaving me time for the deep cleaning.
Here are a few of my tips for keeping things "clean" during the summer:
Make sure the dishwasher runs every night before going to bed! Even if it's not full. But really, our dishwasher could almost run twice a day, so it's likely overflowing by bedtime. You are ensured clean dishes when you wake up!
Our kids help unload dishes in the morning (anything they can't reach to put away, they set on the counter and we do when they are finished).
After each meal, I do a quick sweep of the hardwoods. Although it doesn't get the grime and stickiness up, it prevents nastiness when walking around barefoot. ;-)
I try to start a load of laundry in the morning and then I fold during naptime. Most days I do two loads of laundry. This is the only way I can avoid having mounds of clothes built up around the house. I will have an entire post about laundry coming up with more details. Coming soon!
During naps, I do a quick pick-up, or have the boys help with this. When my family room is picked up, I breathe a little easier. Is that just me?
If I'm feeling an extra burst of energy. Ha. I'll make our bed. It's easier for me to be consistent in the school year, so it doesn't happen as often as I'd like in the summer. I really have no excuse because a made bed is my favorite. I don't make Molly's bed since she naps and that just seems like too much to make her bed twice. My boys have bunk beds, so simply pulling their quilts up, will make them appear made.
I'll ususally choose 1-2 deep cleaning tasks to complete at nap. Scrubbing toilets, mopping the floor, cleaning mirrors, etc. I figure I'll get to everything if I am consistently working on them. Once a week (or so), I'll tackle a major project like organizing the pantry, cleaning out the fridge, cleaning out my closet, etc. Again, it doesn't happen as often as it does in the school year. Can you tell I thrive on routine? Here's an example of how I plan out my monthly deep cleaning tasks. When I get more organized on this blog, I'll start posting them regularly so you can follow along if you'd like. I know, for me, having some inspiration tends to get me moving and motivated!
The final clean up of the day happens once the kids are in bed. Adam and I take 15 minutes or so and pick things up, make sure dishes are loaded, sometimes I'll do a quick vacuum, fold any final loads of laundry (or start another, if needed), straighten pillows. Yes, I'm a fanatic about that. And sit down for the evening. We joke that this is our time when we "clock out" for the night. I don't do any deep cleaning in the evening. That's our time together with no kids and I really value it.
So there you have it. Nothing life shattering, just daily maintenance. Share your favorite cleaning tips and routines! I'd love to hear them.