People often comment on the state of my apartment when they come to visit, whether they are friends, family, or the occasional maintenance man. Evidence of my children can be found all around our apartment- play mats, high chairs, bins and shelves full of books and toys- and that’s all just in our living and dining areas. My children’s belongings can be found throughout our apartment, and yet our home is strangely clean. People comment on the tidiness, and then inevitably ask, how do I do it?
I grew up in a very clean house. I distinctly remember my mom taking the time to clean the bathroom, swiffer the dog hair, and mop the kitchen floor on a regular basis. With the exception of the infamous junk drawer, everything in our house had its proper place. By the time I was in high school, it was clear that the apple hadn’t fallen far from the tree. I like cleanliness. I like order. I like organization. My backpack and locker attested to the fact. Later, my office desk and rented bedroom spoke to my need for clean. Now, it’s my apartment.
Before I had kids, cleaning was restricted to one day a week, when I would move from one room to the next, spraying, wiping, and swiffering. As always, everything had its spot, and I couldn’t go to sleep at night before everything had been returned to its rightful home. With the birth of my children, a new method of cleaning was needed, now that I didn’t have the luxury of spending an entire afternoon cleaning the apartment.
Want to know my secret? It’s minimal, but frequent, cleaning. I am constantly in the process of tidying up. John knows that he cannot change activities without first cleaning up the last one. Since all of his toys have specific homes, he knows exactly what needs to be done before he can play with something new. A multitude of bins are scattered throughout our living room, dining room, kitchen, and his bedroom, and John knows where everything goes. How enthusiastic he is about cleaning is another story though.
We have limited space, and I try to enforce a clean-floor rule, which means we make frequent trips to Goodwill. If it doesn’t fit on a shelf or in a bin, something has to go. Felicity’s play mat is the only thing on the floor. We try to keep our floor as clear as possible, adding to the overall sense of tidiness.
As for cleaning, my secret is this: about thirty minutes every day. I don’t leave it all for the end of the week, but spread it out, so it’s just a bit more bearable. Naturally, I have certain daily chores- washing dishes, making beds, tidying up (which we do several times a day), etc. In addition to those tasks, I try to tackle one cleaning chore a day- dusting on Monday, bathrooms on Tuesday, kitchen on Wednesday, swiffering on Thursday, and dusting again on Friday (why did I buy anything dark?!). We tackle more intense chores, like vacuuming and scrubbing tubs, over the weekend, when both Andrew and I are home. Finally, running the dishwasher (and emptying it) and running loads of laundry are done on an as-needed basis, though I check my laundry baskets every night to check our status.
My home is by no means perfect. Sometimes I fall behind on laundry. I probably should dust more often than I do, but I just can’t stomach the idea of daily dusting. I regularly forget to make John’s bed after his nap, especially on days when he sleeps late and we have more pleasurable things to do in the afternoon. And naturally, if you walk into my apartment during play time, you’ll inevitably find at least a few of John’s toys scattered throughout the living room, and Felicity will probably be in the middle of pulling every single book off the shelves. I get joy from having a clean home, but I get more jiy from watching my children enjoy themselves. As long as I know that everything will be tidied up by the end of the night, I don’t mind a little bit of mess. Sometimes you just have to roll with life, right?
Mary Help of Christians, pray for us!