I love a clean and orderly home. Love. Love. LOVE.
A clean space makes me feel fresh, free, calm, centered, and peaceful.
I’m not at all bothered by other’s homes that aren’t tidy, but when it comes to the space entrusted to my care, I feel immensely frustrated, overwhelmed, and out of control when things look like Hurricane Katrina swept through the neighborhood.
The reality of life with babies and little children is there are not enough hours in the day, days in the week, or years in the millennium to keep my home perfectly clean and organized. Shortly after I gave birth to my first child, I realized I needed to rethink how I took care of my home. I needed a plan for accomplishing tasks as quickly as possible, and for keeping spaces clean as long as possible between “deep cleanings.”
My cleaning routine isn’t the least expensive way to go. It’s not a list of DIY cleaners and all natural organic cleaning products. For me, time is money, and these few steps have become my “quick fix” solution for keeping my home clean in the shortest amount of time possible.
1. Tubes of Cleaning Wipes
I keep a tube of Lysol wipes with bleach and a tube of Windex wipes in every bathroom and in the kitchen. Each morning when my baby goes down for his first nap, I take five minutes and breeze through all the bathrooms and the kitchen in my home with one of each wipes. It cleans and shines all the surfaces and makes each room smell as fresh and clean as it looks. Again, these are not the most inexpensive versions of cleaning products (although they frequently do go on sale, or are featured coupons in the Sunday paper), but they are lifesavers for my kitchen and bathroom regimen. I’ve found I can nearly double the number of days between “deep cleaning” my kitchen and bathrooms if I keep up with a quick daily wipe down.
2. Swiffer it!
I adore my Swiffer duster. A few times a week I run through the upstairs and main floor of my home with it, and in about 8 minutes I can have the whole place completely dusted. Again, not the cheapest way to dust – but this product works great and gets the job done super-fast.
3. Daily Laundry.
I do one load of laundry first thing every morning except Sundays. Many of you are probably shocked a family of four can go through six loads of laundry a week, but I assure you we do. Super-sized loads at that. I’ve found that my personality and work habits do much better getting one load washed, dried, folded and put away daily vs. letting things pile up and having to do 2 or 3 loads (or worse – having to FOLD two or three loads) in one day. I dislike doing laundry and get overwhelmed by it easily.
4. Five Minute Pick-Ups
I try to do three 5-minute pickups per day. Once after breakfast, once when my kids go down for their afternoon naps, and the Hubs and I usually do one more before we go to bed at night. Since our boys are not yet finely skilled in the art of picking up after themselves, the task is still primarily my husband’s and mine. Thanks to the 5-minute pickups routine, no one has (yet) broken a major bone in my home after having tripped over MegaBlocks, Little People, Tonka vehicles, matchbox cars, or Thomas the Tank Engine and his zoo of friends. In a short time when they are old enough, my minions will be taking over the 5-minute pickup routines.
5. Junk Drawer – non negotiable household fixture.
Sure they can become Pandora’s box, but for me, having a “junk drawer” in my kitchen is a necessity. It’s a place I can quickly stash those 102,497 mismatched items that mysteriously end up on my kitchen counter or coffee table each day. I can go through and clean the junk drawer up and out when I have time, but having it there to consolidate a mess is a quick way for me to keep surfaces clean. I also have a small mail slot in my kitchen for storing unsorted/non-read mail. It helps prevent the constant stream of paper from getting out of control in my kitchen.
6. The Gift of an Unloaded Dish Washer
My incredibly sweet and oh-so-amazing husband, whose alarm goes off at 5 a.m. on weekdays, has a routine of unloading the dish washer around 5:35am each day as he waits for the coffee to brew. I cannot put into words how grateful I am for his help in the kitchen. It makes my breakfast and lunch routines with our kids so much easier to clean up from, since I can throw the dishes straight into an empty dish washer throughout the day without having to stop and unload first. Hopefully by the time we have enough kids to merit running the dish washer more than once a day, my minions will be doing the unloading.
7. Light scented candles.
I’m of the opinion that everything looks a bit cleaner and tidier when it smells better. I’m a huge fan of scented candles (WillowWick = personal fav). I can also testify firsthand (thanks to a recent visit to my friend Lizzie’s house) that the popular Pinterest pin of putting two cap-fulls of vanilla extract in your oven REALLY works. Check out the instructions on my Pinterest board here.
My daily cleaning routine sure isn’t extravagant or earth-shattering, but I hope that sharing it is a practical help to other new moms like me who are searching for ways to make the task of caring for our homes quicker, simpler and easier.
And now off to do my post-breakfast 5-minute pick-up. I’ll be roping my Toddler Bear minion into helping me.