Today was a cleaning day. Some cleaning days make me crazy, especially when my family moves from room to room leaving a path of destruction which almost always includes, but is by no means limited to the following items: dirty diapers, dog hair dust bunnies, coffee cups, soaking wet undies, cat barf, random computer wires, last night's jammies, doll house residents, stickers, cheerios, and six non-matching size 5 shoes.
MOST of the time I am able to stay on top of the chaos...but you know what, sometimes it just gets away from me. When the housework starts to build up I am not a fun person to live with. (There, I publicly admitted it, Happy Birthday Dingle!) In all seriousness, I get really anxious when the house is a mess.
The only things missing from this photo is Lily stomping through the room like Godzilla.
As every mom knows, you can't clean anything until you pick up and put away everything. I happen to think I have a pretty good system in place for getting things cleared away relatively quickly.
Rule #1: Everything MUST have a home. This really is key. Random junk take notice, if I can't find a place to put you away, the garbage can is your new home. The only drawback to this rule is that each member of my household will swear that they can't put things away because the don't know where they go. I have found that the counter argument, "put it back where you found it" works wonders.
Rule #2: When picking up never touch something more than once. In other words if you pick up the soaking wet undies take them to the laundry room and while you are on your way look for other things that need to go along with you. This rule really streamlines cleaning up the playroom. I take all of the bins out of the storage cube, line them up, and just start tossing things into the appropriate bin. No more looking for that last puzzle piece or tea cup, I just trust that when I am done everything will have turned up.
After everything is put away it really only takes me a few minutes to dust and wipe down the counters. Last step is vacuuming, which I will be honest, always takes me the longest. I have a love/hate relationship with the animals that we allow to live in our house (I am kidding, it is 92% love, 8% intolerance to the mess, smells, and destruction of private property). I really can't stand all of the dog and cat hair all over everything and as a result my Dyson and I take our sweet time.
It bears mentioning that the only chore I despise doing is cleaning up dirty dishes. I consider myself the luckiest woman in the world that my husband cleans the kitchen.
Someday I will insist that the kids help me pick up their junk but for now picking up and cleaning comes down to the three things.
1. I am a control freak and I like things done my way. I am sure this surprises no one. Also, it is really hard to get my two year old on board with my system, go figure.
2. Kids are kids and their job is to play. I buy that helping out around the house teaches kids responsibility and some day they will have to earn their keep. (Fear not! I promise I will not send useless adults out into the world). That being said, the kids have their entire adult lives to do chores and I really do feel like it is my job to keep the house looking nice.
3. Ultimately, I don't mind doing it. Just like being a stay at home mom doesn't devalue my education and make me an idiot, cleaning up after my family doesn't make me their servant. Nor does it make me a pushover. I pick my battles and if ten years from now my kids are sweet, polite, and grateful then I will happily continue to do the lion's share of the work.
Especially when the playroom looks like this afterwards :)