I read an article yesterday entitled “8 Ways to Keep Your Home Cleaner Longer.” It had some decent, albeit obvious, ideas:
- Wash and put away dishes immediately.
- De-clutter as you notice it instead of waiting until later.
- Only buy things you really need, etc.
Unfortunately, these ideas just don’t always work. For example, wash and put the dishes away as soon as you can is a great idea until you have a two-year-old who either wants to bounce on his infant sister or “help” you with the stabby and breakable things in the dishwasher.
And have you ever tried to de-clutter with a toddler around? They literally follow you and undo things. They’ll take books back out of shelves, toys back out of bins, trash back out of the can. It’s one great big fun game to them.
And don’t even get me started on grocery shopping. Only buying things I need? Listen, I’m just trying to get out of there without killing anyone. If that takes buying some useless toy from the clearance section or a box of goldfish crackers in the checkout line to avoid a meltdown, then I’m probably going to succumb. And I may need a little retail therapy of my own to survive the trip. And by retail therapy I mean ice cream. And maybe something pretty in a size 11 shoe.
So in light of these less than helpful suggestions I thought I’d come up with my own list:
Eight Even Simpler Tips for a Cleaner Home.
- Don’t Have Children. Don’t worry. If you already missed the boat on this one, they’ll move out eventually. And there are seven other helpful tips!
- If You Already Have Children, Don’t Let Them Have Things. This tip is really important because things beget more things. And then those things have babies. You may have already blown it here as well. Don’t worry. I repeat: they’ll move out eventually. They won’t take their things with them, but you can put them in the attic and only have to look at them once a year when you get out Christmas decorations.
- Don’t Bother Organizing the Things. If (like me) your children already have things (like clothes, toys, diapers, their own special toddler utensils), give up organizing. Toddlers hate organization and will promptly undo your hours of hard work in 2.83 minutes. Just stuff things in bins. Or cabinets. Or drawers. If they really want it, believe me, they’ll make you find it.
Don’t look at the dancing child; look at all the things on the floor!
- Don’t Have Pets. This tip is key. I know studies show they’re great for families, they bring joy, you’ll live longer, they help your kids avoid allergies and growing up to be the weirdo who never even had a goldfish (cough, husband, cough) but they’re not worth it. Oh sure, they love you. But they also eat. And poop. And shed everywhere. Of course, again, like me, you may have already acquired a menagerie, in which case –
- If You Have Pets, Shave All the Things. All of them. Dog? Shave it. Cat? Shave it. Ferret? Turtle? Guppy? Shave it.
- Have People Over. My son has speech therapy at our house once a week which forces me to at least pretend to clean for the sake of his therapist. We occasionally schedule a play date with someone new and I want them to think we’re normal human beings so I vacuum and wipe off the counters and shove things in bins and drawers and cabinets (see tip 3.) Having people over on a semi-regular basis is the only reason our home is ever remotely clean.
- Don’t Have Large, Flat Surfaces. Counters, table tops, bookshelves – they’re all magnets for crap. Stuff just accumulates there because it can. I strongly recommend only having lumpy surfaces. Things will not balance on them, they’ll fall on the floor, and you might feel guilty enough to put it somewhere else. Or not.
- When You Do Clean, DO NOT LET PEOPLE IN YOUR HOME. This is probably the most vital tip. Whether or not you’re married, or have kids, or pets, if you clean and then let people in, they will mess it up. Just cleaned the kitchen? For Heaven’s sake, don’t cook dinner! Go out to eat and the kitchen stays clean for another day. Scrub the toilets and the tub? Your kids can poop at the neighbors and take a shower with the hose in the backyard. Just made the beds for the first time in a month? Time for a backyard camp out!
If you follow these simple tips, you too can have a cleaner home for longer periods of time. Or you can adopt my new motto: Clean enough to live in; dirty enough to be sane.