As a mom it’s incredibly difficult to keep a tidy house with small kids, that’s particularly if you’re in a cleaning funk!
There’s a way fun poll on clean vs. tidy at the bottom of this post that breaks down results based on age, gender, and geographic location! Let’s find out if mothers are really the same in every country!
A funk is defined as:
1. (n) cowering fear; great fright or terror.
2. (n) a dejected mood.
3. (v) to be afraid of
4. (v) to frighten
5. (v) to shrink from.
Oh yes, ladies, I do believe the majority of us get in cleaning funks. You know what I mean. You’re very pregnant, have a newborn, get out of the habit, and find yourself living in a sty that is mocking your former self. “You used to mop the floors every week. Mwaha. Your table has peanut butter stuck to it from a month ago. What are you waiting for? A sanding block?”
I am always meticulously tidy, but go in cleaning spurts. I will put every throw pillow in its proper place and blankets lined up according to their pattern, but only deep clean the bathrooms once every few weeks. In my last pregnancy (as you know I was suffering from perinatal anxiety) I needed help. A messy and dirty house increased my difficulties so I had to branch out. There’s no shame!
If you tend to get into cleaning funks like me displaying reticence to clean marked by excessive avoidance of the issue while surfing Facebook, Pinterest or your Kindle, you’ve come to the right place! Here’s how I get out of a cleaning funk and into a good cleaning system.
1. Phone a friend.
After we stopped having a biweekly cleaner, I never quite got into a good cleaning routine. I came off maternity leave, went back to work from home again and – fast forward a few months – the state of the house was embarrassing. Luckily, I have a dear friend who keeps an immaculate house. Not in a “don’t sit on my couch” way, but in an inviting, hospitable, feels-serene-to-be-there sort of way.
I called, she answered. We cleaned all the major areas of the house and sat down to discuss her systems. I realized part of why mine (which was characterized by random bursts of energy here and there) didn’t work was I didn’t have all the necessary tools. She helped turn the house around so I could maintain it, instead of feeling behind as I attacked one room at a time.
The best part, she was very pleased that I asked. She remembers the days of young children and was genuinely happy to help.
2. Hire a cleaner.
Ten years ago now (oh my goodness) I lived in Rome (Italy) with some lifelong friends. Our house was huge and we were busy, so we decided to get a cleaner. Trouble was, someone had to let her in the house each Thursday. And she was at least 60, if memory serves. After a month or two of letting this woman into our home and sitting there as she cleaned, we decided this was unconscionable. What self-respecting 23-year-old can sit and read a book while a woman three times her age cleans the house? Not us.
This time around I felt very differently. Nevermind the fact that our cleaner was a strong man with high powered suction machines, I knew hiring him was not lazy. It was not an excuse to lay around and eat Cheetos I bought from USA Foods while watching Dawsons Creek reruns. No. Between having a 2-year-old, a 1-year-old, being very pregnant, and working a few hours each day from home, it was investment we chose to make for my peace of mind.
I need it clean, but I don’t always have to be the one to do it.
3. Get a caddy.
Maybe I’m the last person on the planet to get a cleaning caddy, but I have arrived. My friend shared how she used a caddy filled with all the essentials (some products double in usage) and it made cleaning a snap. After using one for a while, I totally agree. If you walk past an area in your home that needs a clean, it’s so much quicker to have everything in one place than to walk back and forth.
Also, get gloves. I don’t know why I waited so long to get cleaning gloves. Again, probably the last person on the planet. These have been a game changer, because now I can make things clean without getting dirty in the process. Here are the things I currently keep in my caddy to give you an idea. Sometimes I make all-natural cleaners, but I must not use enough essential oils because they don’t leave surfaces smelling quite as nice.
Basic sponges (for dusting, wiping services, etc.)
Anti-bacterial cleaning wipes
Mirror and window wipes
Gumption (a gritty cleaner that gets scum or hard stains)
All-purpose spray cleaner
Bathroom and tile spray
Gel toilet cleaner
4. Get rid of your junk.
I am a huge fan of downsizing. I’ve touched on it in my posts downsizing toys, use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without, and how to keep a house tidy with small kids. I truly believe one of the best ways to get out of a funk in the house is to get rid of things you no longer need. If you are hesitant to actually donate or sell many things, try this. Get a large garbage bag or container and fill it with clutter, excess and things that you step on everyday. Then put it in a closet for a month or two. After you’ve learned to live with less you may bring a few of those items back and donate the rest. I read this in an Art of Simple post recently.
Motivation isn’t easy to come by when the house is piled with stuff. If the surfaces aren’t visible it’s hard to keep them clean. It feels impossible to tidy when there is nowhere to put all the junk. I do a clean sweep a few times each day and it never takes more than a few minutes to put everything away. Everything. A few minutes. Yes! That’s because we have baskets for toys and not many of them at that.
5 Get a tidying system.
The survey I did months back showed surprising (or maybe not) results. Most of us are affected by the cleanliness of our house. One surefire way to help maintain cleaning habits is to have a simple, no brainer tidying system. This isn’t rocket science, but here is what we do. We have strategic baskets both upstairs and downstairs. Children select toys from the baskets and return them when they’re finished (by our direction, not by their own yet).
Toys that come in sets or boxes (duplo, train sets, wooden sets, etc.) are kept in a large closet downstairs. When kids want to play with them we bring out the box and, when playtime is over, put it back. This helps prevent parts being lost and decreases clutter. I do sweeps throughout the day so clutter doesn’t pile up. Almost every evening the house is completely clutter free. It is not always clean, but it is clutter free.
Need some help getting cleaned up, organized and clutter free? Check out this awesome book!
I’ve created a free email series just for you! The main reason your home feels chaotic is not because you’re a lazy, disorganized, unmotivated housewife! The fact is… it’s your systems. With easy efficient systems, habits, and routines you can start to have the home (and home atmosphere) you crave without working yourself into a frenzy. After this free email series you’ll:
- know what to do (and stop doing) so your cooking and kitchen habits work
- have a “company ready” home in as little as 15 minutes with dead simple daily tidy hacks
- stop wasting time and focus on a few key morning, afternoon, and evening routines that make the whole day flow more smoothly
Click here to sign up for my free email series or simply click on the image below.
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