Are you thinking about cleaning your house after the holidays?
A number of years ago, a local newspaper ran a messy house contest. Trying to identify problems inherent in keeping the house decent, they titled the competition, “Do you have CHAOS in your home?”
CHAOS stood for Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.
Ouch. I can relate. When we had four littles in our little house, simply cleaning a path from the front door some days was a challenge.
And now here we are at the beginning of a new year and many of us face a similar challenge.
You could go browsing on Pinterest and download a 1000-point checklist for cleaning your home. I have a few of those stored on my hard drive.
Or you could be realistic. With real mom life happening all around you, ask yourself this question:
What can I realistically do with what I have?
Let’s face it. Chances are you won’t be using a toothbrush to clean between the wall and the baseboards. Not happening here!
If you have an active lifestyle in a busy home, things are going to get messy! If you set a standard of doing a deep house cleaning with each season, you will be disappointed and feel you have failed.
What CAN you do?
First, you can let go of perfection.
From someone a little further down the road, can I tell you that your kids don’t care whether your kitchen floor gleams? They won’t remember it. They will remember if you took the time to play, do fun things and make memories with them. Has your kid ever come up to you and said, “Thanks for scrubbing the toilets, mom!” Of course not! But in this short season of big hugs, messy hands and breathlessly spoken I love yous, your kids will remember that you took time to connect with them and explore some aspect of this wonderful life together.
Second, if you can invest a few minutes a day, you can attain livable results.
Whenever possible, involve your kids in cleaning and organizing. This is a valuable life skill they will carry through adulthood. Getting them accustomed to hard work early with save a lot of headache later.
(Although I must confess there were a few times I had my husband take the kids out for a day here and there so I could stay home and clean. Sounds dreadful, doesn’t it? But you do whatever you need to do depending on your season and your circumstances.)
Step One: Declutter.
Each day (or maybe all in one day if you can carve out the time), go from room to room and declutter. This isn’t a deep closet declutter. This is a surface declutter so you can clear enough off to make you feel better about your home. (Have you noticed that the state of your home sometimes determines how your feel? If things are a mess, sometimes I feel like a mess!)
If you can devote 5 – 15 minutes to each room to just clear some clutter, you’re going to already start to feel better about this project.
Step Two: Surface clean.
This may take a few days. Each day, go through a room or two and surface clean. Wipe down (or polish) wood surfaces; wipe off counters, sinks, and any flat surfaces. As you walk into each room, ask, “What can I wipe off?” In the bedroom, that will be dressers and shelves. In the laundry room, maybe that’s the nasty dryer top.
Next, spot vacuum or wipe the floors. Don’t move furniture around or anything. Just clean visible areas. If there’s a spot of nastiness stuck on the kitchen floor, clean it up. If the dirt has gathered by your house entry, vacuum it up.
At the end of this stage, you have decluttered and cleaned off some spaces and surfaces. I bet you’re feeling better already!
Step Three: Look up!
So far, we’ve been looking down (to the floors) or straight ahead (to the surfaces in front of us). Now it’s time to look UP!
Get a duster and clear out all the cobwebs in your rooms. If you can’t afford one, tie a rag to the end of a stick and knock them down with that.
Clean the tops and sills of your windows. Lots of dust accumulates at the top of blinds or curtains. Get rid of it.
Feel better? I know you will.
Why should you do a simple cleaning instead of a deep cleaning at this time?
It’s the Motherhood Malady of Overwhelm.
How much of a mother’s life involves feeling overwhelmed? Sometimes the sheer weight of all that we carry and manage can make all of life seem just too much.
Most of us have had days when simply getting ourselves dressed was an accomplishment. If you got a shower in there as well, you felt particularly accomplished. Then you managed the day.
When the needs of others and the responsibilities we have crunch in on us, that feeling of overwhelm can be paralyzing. It can lead to thoughts like:
It’s such a mess. Why bother trying?
Even if I make a dent, the kids will trash it again immediately.
It’s too much, so I don’t want to even start.
The reality is doing the small things with manageable steps leads to a decrease in feelings of overwhelm. As you take tiny steps away from overwhelm, you can begin to feel better about all of mothering.
You can handle this, Mama!
When the kids are older, or in school, or at grandma’s for a week, you can print off that 1000-point checklist and check to your heart’s content. Until then…
Small things, small steps. Happier Mama, happier family.
Take some small steps today to do some simple house cleaning after the holiday.