Keeping Clean Tip No. 3: Come up with a cleaning routine that works for you. Ignore the rest.
Alternate title: Let's all take a chill pill.
The problem with the cleaning routines I've seen in books and floating around on Pinterest is this: they're rigid and strict and have the power to send people into a panic-- or at the very least, make folks feel guilty about the way they clean. Monday is for bathrooms, Tuesday is for vacuuming, Wednesday is for wiping down the walls (what?) Thursday is for laundry, and so on. It all feels overbearing and stressful, and frankly, a little unrealistic. And it's not the way I like to clean.
That said, I do have my own little daily routine. It's mine, and it's good, and it's less about getting the entire house clean from top to bottom throughout the week, and much, much more about accomplishing a few choice things in order to sit down at the end of the day and say ahhhh.
You see, a cleaning routine is a very personal thing.
I like to think back to the time when Ralph was a fresh newborn. I had all sorts of anxieties pulsing through my mushy mom brain, but one of the things I remember worrying about most was how on earth I was ever going to get the dishes done. I wasn't concerned with the laundry, and the groceries could always wait one more day, but, so help me, someone had to do those dishes. Ryan and I learned pretty quickly that the sight of a dirty kitchen at the end of the day stressed me out big time. We started to work harder at cleaning it up right away, so we could spend the rest of the evening taking turns shushing and bouncing a sad baby around the house.
Later on, Ralph became familiar with crunchy Cheerios and playground sand and suddenly I realized that walking on a dirty floor at the end of the day made me feel just as panicky as a dirty sink. We added sweeping and vacuuming to the list of daily chores.
I'm afraid I'm starting to sound like a nitpicky drag who can't relax with her family unless things are in exact order. And to some degree...I won't deny it. But I'm mostly trying to tell you that as I settled into my new role as stay-at-home-mom and chief keeper of the house, I began to realize just how much work needed to be done to keep a home clean-- and just how impossible that was if one wanted to accomplish anything else that day, let alone have a little fun. So, I cheated. I decided to only tackle the things that drove me nuts. And I got pretty good at turning a blind eye to whatever was left.
If, throughout the course of the day, I can manage to make the beds, keep the dishes under control, sweep up a days' worth of dust and dirt and crumbs, and give a once over to the clutter that collects on any flat surface of the house, I can enjoy myself a whole lot more. Because those are the things that, if left alone for too long, tend to make my skin prickle.
I can also avoid scrubbing the tile in my shower for an embarrassingly long time, because, eh. Unless company is coming, I'm cool with letting it go a while.
That's why I want to laugh when I'm asked how I keep my house looking so clean, because more often than not, it's really not that clean at all. Like most people, I'd rather spend my days watching my little boy splash around in his kiddie pool, and my evenings poking around in the garden or looking for fireflies on the back step with my husband-- not tackling the "chore of the day" on my cleaning schedule printable.
Now, if you're reading this and thinking that I didn't really provide you with any substantial cleaning tips at all, stay tuned. The way I keep my house clean has a lot to do with a really spectacular deep clean once every few weeks. It might have even more to do with getting rid of junk and trying to live with less (also known as the very trendy "minimalism" or not hoarding.) But both of those things are posts for another day.
Until then, let's all just relax a bit, shall we? Let's take care of the things that help us sleep better at night, and leave the rest for another day. There are cheeks to kiss and fireflies to catch.