So, it’s no secret that everyone has different ideas of what “clean” is. Some of us are happy as long as things are generally cleaned up, some of us aren’t bothered by stuff everywhere, and a few of us would really prefer for our houses to be pristine.
But, guess what?! This is actually part of the secret!
Are you feeling dissatisfied with the state of your home? Do you feel like it isn’t clean enough, organized enough or put together enough for your liking?
Then, you need to change it – and you CAN change it!
The #1 secret to keeping a clean house, no matter who you are, where you live, how many kids you have, or how much money you make, is this:
Have expectations for how your house will be kept, and keep it that way to the best of your abilities.
The key to having a perpetually clean home is having a realistic idea of what you can keep up with, and then keeping up! If you start to let it go, it will only become harder and harder.
Cleaning constantly may sound like the hardest thing to do, but it is actually MUCH easier than trying to fix the mess you’ve spent years creating.
When I was first married, I worked 6-8 hours a day and my husband worked 10-16 a day. Except for Sunday, which I allowed to be a “don’t-worry-about-how-clean-the-house-is” day, I had a vision of what my house should be like, and I was constantly arranging, wiping, sweeping and folding to keep it at that level.
To give you an idea of what that level of cleanliness looked like:
- If there was a crumb on the floor, I whipped out the vacuum or broom.
- If there was toothpaste on the sink, I wet down a kleenex and wiped it off.
- If there was over half a basket of dirty laundry, I washed, dried and folded it that same day.
- If I noticed a smudge on a mirror or window, out came the Windex.
- If I noticed dust, I wiped it off…even if it was with my shirt sleeve.
- If we used a dish, it was washed immediately after (we don’t have a dishwasher).
- If random objects ended up in a place they didn’t belong, I would replace them right away, which led to me running around the house all day.
This was when I was childless, and I spent anywhere from 2-10 hours a day at home ALONE. So, though possibly insane, this was a completely realistic expectation for me to have.
When I had my first baby, I was totally overwhelmed. I was trying to keep up with this expectation I had previously had of myself, and it was driving me absolutely bonkers. I was anxious, overwhelmed, exhausted and felt like I was failing.
Then the day came where it occurred to me – my expectation of myself had to change because my life had changed!
Now, with a one-year-old boy who is honestly exhausting and destroys everything in his path, my expectations have changed.
LAUNDRY: I fold laundry once a week. I’ll do loads as the baskets fill up, then at the end of the week, I use one of his nap times to tackle all of it at once. The primary reason I did this is, not only does he get SO much dirty SO often, but my time is much more precious now! As most of you fellow momma’s know, folding laundry with a toddler is like trying to bathe in a sewer, so I MUST do it during nap time. And there’s no freaking way that I’m wasting that precious time every single day on laundry.
PICKING UP: When my child is awake, I give up on this front. He is a toddler, therefore, my house will be a tornado. But each time he naps and after he goes to sleep for the night, I do a run through of the house and put items back where they belong (toys I leave out in the living room until he goes to bed for the night).
FLOORS: Okay, so I’m still a freak about my floors. But with a toddler constantly getting slime, crumbs, and snot all over everything, I just had to stop. I’ve trained myself to ignore the situation until nap time. I sweep under his high chair after every time he eats, then leave the rest of the house until bedtime. After he is asleep, I do a quick sweep of all the main hard floors if needed. As for carpets and rugs, I’ve just let those go. Unless something is REALLY bad, I vacuum once a week when I do my big house cleaning.
DISHES: There are days I’m tempted to ignore the dishes, but when I do that it always come back to haunt me. So now, instead of doing every dish right after I use it, I’ve adopted the “wash after every meal” strategy. Breakfast is usually just coffee cups and bowls, so I don’t bother with those. So after lunch, I’ve got breakfast and lunch dishes, then of course after dinner I have lots to do.
OTHER CLEANING: Dishes, sweeping up obvious crumbs, and picking up are the only things I keep track of on a daily basis. Dusting, bathroom goo, kitchen stuff, laundry… I just let it go. There are actually days that I have to talk myself into NOT cleaning. But I know that I’m only making myself crazier by worrying about it.
I am still a clean freak.
I still have panic attacks because my house isn’t perfect.
I still clean far too often.
But I’ve realized that my new life means new expectations.
And YOUR life means your OWN expectations, which will be different from anyone else’s!
Your personal expectations of your home will depend on a few things:
If/how often/where you work.
How many kids you have, and their ages.
Your personal preferences & abilities (in regards to cleaning).
If you work full time and have three kids in school, cleaning might not be a top priority on your list. Figure out what YOUR realistic expectations should be for the season of life you are in right now and make it happen!
If you are a stay-at-home mom to one kid in school and a brand new baby, you will have different things you won’t do as well as you used to, but also plenty of time to make the important things happen. Figure out what you can do well right now and do it!
You may be a stay-at-home mom with all the kids in school, but you just don’t care about cleanliness and/or it’s really difficult for you. Start small and do what you can make happen, and as long as you are happy that’s ALL that matters.
You might be a clean freak, like me, but don’t have the time, energy or ability to keep things the way you would like them to be. Figure out what areas you can let go, and let them go guilt-free.
We are all in different places in life. Our homes are all going to be reflective of those differences! The main goal is for you to be HAPPY with the state of your home and to FEEL homey, happy, safe, and comfortable in it.
- Figure out what needs to happen to make you happy & satisfied with the state of your home.
- Assess how much of that you can practically make happen considering your season of life.
- Ask yourself if you can get outside help to deal with what you cannot make happen (kids make great free labor as well!).
- Finally, be content knowing you are doing the very best you can with where you are at right now!
Are you ready to start fresh with new habits, but don’t even know where to begin? Start off with my cleaning challenge to get your house back into tip-top shape!