I’m the last person I ever thought would be writing about how I keep my house clean. Because it wasn’t clean. It was a disaster for decades. But lately, after having a messy house for so long, I’ve been able to keep my house clean and I’m pleasantly surprised at how possible it’s been and how good it feels.
I’m finally able to keep my house clean.
Some of the things I do to keep my house clean are totally within my control. I can choose whether or not to do them, and I do choose to do them. I have to admit though, that I’ve been lucky enough lately that there are circumstances I have no control over that make it much easier to keep the messes at bay.
Reasons that are out of my control:
My kids grew up.
When I only had little kids at home, life was a lot harder. They could make a mess faster than I could clean it up. They were the ultimate partners in crime. I have story after story of the messes they made, and that’s just the big stuff like getting into the laundry room chemicals or the big bag of sugar in the pantry. All day, every day they’d throw all the tupperware out of the drawers, pull the toilet paper off the rolls, and make sophisticated apparatuses to obtain ice cream from the freezer. Not to mention the dishes, laundry, and scrubbing that thad to be done.
Now that my kids are older, they don’t make messes like that anymore (well, most of them don’t). They also clean up after themselves (when I tell them to), and have assigned chores. I can also call on them to help out with whatever needs doing. I tell you, it’s so much easier to raise a toddler with 4 older kids to grab diapers, put the stroller in the car, and sweep up Cheerios. They even scrub their own bathrooms, which is fantastic because it wasn’t getting done at all before (not by me, or anyone else).
My health problems are much better.
For a long time I was struggling with health problems like soul-sucking depression, crippling anxiety, and sleep apnea. I used to sleep in, take naps in my bed, take additional naps on the couch while the kids watched Netflix on the computer, and very rarely could I muster the energy to clean a dang thing. I’m lucky enough that my health issues are being treated successfully and are pretty much under control right now, and it makes all the difference.
My husband is a neat freak.
I count this as a lucky break for me. I’ve never experienced the whole “my husband leaves his socks on the floor” thing. Hubby rarely leaves anything lying around that compels me to clean up after him. I try to do his laundry for him, but he often beats me to it. He also regularly does dishes. I do most of the cleaning around the house, because I am the stay-at-home parent so I’m actually here to do it while he is out working all day. But it sure helps that he picks up a lot of the slack, takes care of himself, and gets on the kids when they don’t help out more. And when I leave my husband alone with the kids for a day, I come back to a hot meal, a clean house, and happy kids. He’s a better stay-at-home mom than I am.
Reasons that are within my control:
I fully acknowledge that it’s just good luck that I have a helpful husband, my health problems are under control, and I’ve got older kids to help out now. But there are also several things I decide to do every day to keep the house in order.
I got a hobby.
I know this seems irrelevant, but I think it’s a big factor. When you feel like you are on a never-ending hamster wheel of domestic duties, life is miserable. I need to do something every day that I actually enjoy doing. Something that makes it so I don’t mind cleaning so much, because it’s not the only thing I ever do.
Also, I’ve found myself suddenly becoming a morning person for the first time in my life because I can’t wait to wake up and get started on my hobby! When I have “me time” in the morning before the kids wake up, it makes my whole day a lot more productive and I have more time and energy to get the house clean.
I’m a stay-at-home mom.
With five kids I am super busy, and rarely do I actually “stay-at-home.” But I am the parent with the flexible schedule who doesn’t commute an hour and half to and from work every day. I’m here holding down the fort and that gives me time to keep the house in order.
I use cleaning as a punishment.
When the kids are out of control I make them clean. Hey, I figure if they have enough energy to fight incessantly and jump off the furniture they have the energy to scrub grout.
I try to clean right away.
I’ve always, always, ALWAYS been that person with the mountain of laundry, both clean and dirty. But lately I got tired of spending an hour (or more) trying to fold and put away laundry and never catching up. So I put on a movie, caught up on folding all the laundry, and then started folding every new load as it came out of the dryer. Every day I fold laundry now. Sometimes several times a day. It’s incredible how much less overwhelming it is when it’s just the ONE load. It literally takes me only five minutes to fold a load of laundry. Who knew?
I clean every day.
I work on something around the house every day. And the kids have their daily chores. Every day I make the bed, get things picked up, make sure laundry and dishes are getting done, clean up after the toddler, and make sure the house is picked up before Hubby gets home from work so he can enjoy his home without it being in a state of absolute chaos (although the kids running and screeching makes that a bit more difficult). Sometimes it’s all I can do to keep the most disgusting messes at bay so our neighbors don’t call CPS on us, and sometimes I’m able to keep the house pretty organized and maybe even do one extra “project,” like vacuuming the kid’s rooms. I just make sure I do SOMETHING every day.
I don’t clean all day.
I refuse to clean during nap time. That time is dang sacred, I tell you. I need my time to disengage from all the pandemonium. It’s absolutely essential. And if something doesn’t get done, I just do it the next day. This keeps me from getting too overwhelmed and wanting to crawl in a hole and die.
Thanks to situations outside of my control, as well as things I choose to do every day to keep my house clean, I’m finally able to keep it (mostly) together. Don’t think that this means my house is spotless. There are still toys littering the floor and dishes in the sink. But it’s not so disastrous that is can’t be picked up in a few minutes. And that’s a huge step up for me.