“Girl, how is your house so clean with six children, and working, and school and all the sh*t fights?”
And the truth is, if you come mid-Nerf battle on a spaghetti Bolognese day, there is just no hiding that eight people definitely live and eat here. But for the most part it’s tidy. And that makes me happy. I suppose we stick to a few simple rules.
Rule number one: Kids help.
We paint, we build blocks, we get muddy outside; the kids can have tons of messy fun but they must clean up after themselves, always. Toys go back away, dirty clothes go in the wash, and clean clothes go in their allotted spots.
They know how to put things in the bin.
Get themselves dressed.
How to put their clothes in the wash. Where their shoes and bags go.
How to make their beds.
It’s just routine and habit.
I’m not a slave driver.
But they have responsibilities and, for the most part, they enjoy them.
Rule number two: Throw sh*t out.
No but seriously. I only have pots and pans I use regularly, I have minimal furniture, enough blankets for each person in the house but we don’t have useless shit. No one needs six sheet sets; you just don’t. You don’t need a set of Tupperware you’ve never used before. I know Aunt Betty gave you it for your seventh wedding anniversary but if you’re not using it, it goes.
And that broken toy on top of the fridge that’s been there for two years that “you’re totally going to fix any day now,” THROW it out. If it doesn’t make you happy, you don’t use it regularly; you do not need it. Maybe someone else does?
Rule number three: Stuff is sorted.
Always. Mostly always.
New stuff comes in old stuff goes out. Things stay folded. We try and keep it regularly sorted. We have a blanket cupboard, a dinosaur storage box, an art storage box, a gift wrapping area, a vacuum cupboard, a cleaning cupboard; you get the picture.
But things that aren’t used, again, we throw. Everything has a place. Organization is the key. Our draws aren’t full of crap except for our ONE “crap drawer.” Everyone needs one “full of crap drawer.” With pens and rubber bands and hair ties and popsicle sticks and takeaway menus.
That’s life. That’s messy, wonderful life.
Rule number four: Utilize your morning.
I never close the door for a school run on a dirty house. Well, almost never. I make sure the kids have tidied their rooms and made their beds. If they mess the lounge playing forts in the morning, they tidy it up as we walk out the door. The sink and benches must be clear and washing swapped first thing. It works and it’s done by about 7:20. The rest of my day is clear when I step out of the door at 8:20 a.m.
We’re always bloody late. But my house is clean.
Trust me. We’re not late because it’s clean; it’s normally shoes. It’s always because of shoes. We’re not miracle workers. Our kids still manage to lose their shoes. Every. Damn. Day
Rule number five: One DEEP clean day.
One per week, every week. Floors, bathrooms, toilets, sinks, bedding, wipe over of tables, TVs, fridges, and microwaves. Done.
Don’t overcomplicate. It takes about two hours. Don’t put pressure on yourself every day. The morning clean should be enough. And then your one deep clean day. Turn up the music for deep clean day (I love Saturday mornings) and just get it done.
Rule number six: No need to vacuum.
Not every time. Invest in a broom with a dust pan and a spray mop. A mop that sprays disinfectant on the floor and wipes it up. I love my spray mop. It works wonderfully well. His name is Peter and he’s one of my best friends. I use him after dinner. And after spills and lollipops. And then I throw the cloth that attaches to the bottom in the wash. Easy peasy lemon squeeze.
Rule number seven: Candles.
A sweet scent is as inviting as fresh throw pillows. They make your house feel fresh. They make it smell like apples. When it doesn’t smell like apples. F*ck I love apples. And I love candles. Preferably in a well-vented area and not at the same time. That sh*t’s flammable. Also open windows and doors; fresh air is as good as a bloody holiday.
And there you have it: Keep on top of things. Don’t worry about it all week. One morning a quick wham bam thank you ma’am cleaning session.
I hope this has kind of helped.
I’ve sprained my ankle, so naturally my house looks like a tornado has hit it and everyone threw their belongings and ran for cover and no one’s been sighted since.
My husband is “helping.”
Don’t tell him, but he just kind of moves mess around. But he’s trying and he makes me tea, so I should probably shut right up.
Because at the end of the day some of my best memories from when I was a kid were sitting in a three-week-old sheet fort I built in my parents’ lounge room surrounded by food crumbs watching Harry Potter.
A clean house does not make memories. But staying on top of things gives you more time to make memories.