10 Ways to Have a Good Cleaning Day, The Hall Way!

So let's be real for a second, shall we? As moms we would love to just ignore the housework and play with our babies all day, every day. After all, there are signs on Pinterest that say, "Good mom's have sticky floors, piles of laundry, messy kitchens and happy kids." and "A clean house is the sign of a wasted life." Honestly though, if we never cleaned, it would be a little bit worse than some apple juice spilled on the floor, a few toys and some laundry. Every time someone says to me, "Ignore the housework and focus on your babies, the housework isn't going anywhere!" I want to say, "You're right, it isn't going anywhere. In fact, if I leave it alone, it is going to make it's own babies and continue to reproduce until we are all buried under it." I want to tell them that as much as my babies enjoy playing on the floor with their Mama, they would probably rather not have ants literally in their pants. My kids (and me and my husband for that matter) need clean clothes to wear, and clean dishes to eat off of, and we all prefer a home that doesn't smell like rotten milk or dirty diapers. It is a pretty picture to imagine a mom playing on the toy covered floor with her babies all day long, but that is an unrealistic fantasy. Now, I might be exaggerating a little bit about what people mean when they say "Ignore the house and enjoy your babies!" but, at some point, you HAVE to clean house, do the laundry, cook the meat that is going to go bad in your refrigerator if you don't use it like 5 minutes ago, give your babies a bath, go grocery shopping, etc. I mean, seriously, you can't just let everything you own turn to garbage because you have children. I'm not saying you need to follow your children around with a vacuum or pick up every toy they drop, but I want my children to learn the importance of having a tidy (not perfect) home, and the responsibility of cleaning up after themselves when they make a mess, in fact, I believe they deserve to learn these things. So what happens when you reach one of these can't-go-on-any-longer-without-doing-some-sort-of-housework days? It's not like your kids (especially babies) are going to give you an easy day just because you have to do some housework, you are likely to be just as tired and unmotivated as you were yesterday and if you're anything like me, the excuses and justifications for why you shouldn't cook, clean or do laundry will continue to pile up in your brain. Maybe not everyone is like me, maybe you are able to have a balance between work and play, but for me, if I let myself think that because I have kids my house can be a disaster, or that my kids can only be happy if I don't spend time cleaning, then I know it will all spiral out of control and I will literally never get anything done. In fact, I did let myself think this way the last 2 weeks, and you should have seen my laundry pile! Also there is a weird stain in the middle of my living room and I have no idea where it came from!  My personal feeling is that I should at least accomplish something daily, that my family deserves to have clean laundry and a tidy place to live and that it is important for my kids to learn the value of getting stuff done. One of my first posts was about enjoying 'those kind' of days (which are most days for me), while still getting stuff done, but this post is more for the days when you just need to have a 'work' day and get everything back under control. Let me just preface this by saying, I have only been married for less than 3 years, and I have only been a mom for 19 months, so I know that I have very little experience and don't claim to have all the answers, but this is just what works for me right now and I am changing the way I do things all the time.

  1. Give myself time to wake up.  If I don't allow myself time to have a cup of coffee (or Diet Coke) and sit on the couch for a few minutes, not only will I start my day out angry and resentful (at what, I'm not sure, the day?) but it will be harder for me to get out of bed knowing that I am just going to start right in on 'work'.
  2. Make a to-do list. I have a list that I printed off on my computer and put in a frame so that I can check off what I have done every day with a dry erase marker, however, I still prefer to hand write a to-do list, especially on days where I have a lot to get done. I also prefer to write my list in the order I want to do things, for example, I like to load the dishwasher first thing in the morning, then make beds. To me, these make a noticeable difference and already I feel more accomplished after checking off my first two things on the list. 
  3. Plan dinner from the get-go. I always feel like the most awesomest (um..is that a word?), hard working, multitasking mom and wife at the end of my 'work' day, but that only lasts for about 2 seconds if, when I'm all done, I realize I never planned out dinner. Whether you choose to have your hubby pick up a pizza on his way home from work, order Chinese food, or are going to cook, I just recommend you have a plan at the beginning of this day. (These are just one of the many days that I am so thankful for my CrockPot!)
  4. Start slow. If I am super tired and unmotivated, I usually start by just picking up a few things here and there each time I enter a room, I end up actually getting a lot of cleaning done this way and usually get on a roll and don't want to stop what I started. {My mom used to tell me to do this when I was in college and never wanted to just get going on any laundry or cleaning.} This is my go-to move because rarely, unless I am pregnant and in total nest mode (why can't that happen when I'm not pregnant?), feel like rolling up my sleeves and getting to work. In fact, while I was writing this, I needed to empty and load the dishwasher, so every time I went in the kitchen I planned to empty/load a few dishes, it only took me 3 times going in the kitchen and I had all the dishes done and the counters wiped down; all I needed was to get started and then I just didn't want to stop. 
  5. Set goals for the day and allow myself a reward when I reach them. A good example of this would be: I will have the kitchen and bathrooms clean, plus one load of laundry folded by nap time, and then I can use part or all of nap time to relax/nap/watch TV/make a smoothie etc. 
  6. Break up my work. Okay, so I will be honest, I am addicted to a large handful (or two) of TV shows and most days I have a few to catch up on.  I like to start a load of laundry, clean while it is running and then when it is done, I take a TV 'break' to fold it. ;) This way, I get to stop doing my cleaning every 45 minutes or so to fold laundry, which feels like a reward because I get to watch my shows while I do it! Or sometimes, I save all the laundry folding for when the kids go to bed (usually if my hubby has to work or do homework) and just have a folding/ TV marathon at the same time, it is very motivating for me! I also let myself have a diet coke with fresh lemons while I clean. ;) 
  7. Have my toddler 'help'. My sweet boy loves to follow me around and lend me a hand whenever he can. I make it exciting and at the same time I am able to spend time with him, encourage him, teach and correct him while getting stuff done...it may take a little longer this way, but it is much better than the alternatives of either not spending any time with him or having a nasty, dirty and messy home.
  8. Tell someone my goals for the day.  I make sure there is someone holding me accountable to all that I need to get done that day. It is so much more motivating and fun to be able to text a friend throughout the day who is rooting for you to accomplish what you have planned, especially a fellow mom who knows that it is not a simple task to have a house cleaning day with, in my case, a toddler and a baby. 
  9. Allow myself to be done by dinner time, or when my husband gets home from work. Before I put them to bed, I like to play with my boys, and do their bedtime routines. I also like to hangout with my hubby when he gets home from work. If he is working late, then I usually set a goal telling myself if I have certain things done by dinner time, I can be completely done for the day, but if not, I take a break until the boys go to bed and then I  finish the rest of my goal before I quit for the day.
  10. If I don't get it all done, I finish my list the next day before starting any other chores or projects. I have daily chores I like to try to get done every day, but if I haven't finished my full to-do list from my big 'work' day then I always do that before I start anything else. Of course, maintenance is the key to less overwhelming and long days, but at least with just one or two 'work' days here and there, the majority of my time is spent with my sweet boys instead. I can (and will) still have the sticky floors, and toys everywhere most of the time...but at some point, it all has to get cleaned up...ya know, so it can get messy again! ;) 

Of course, this won't always work. There will be days you intend on having big 'work' days, but one of your babies is teething, sick or just extra fussy, or your toddler is having a day where he just needs extra guidance or attention and that's okay! Personally, my main focus is that I don't want to make excuses for a messy house, piles of laundry, and sticky floors but that when I truly can get things done, I do! I know my attitude and my heart, I know when I have days that much has been accomplished (even if no one else can tell) or days when I was just lazy and unproductive for no reason. If you haven't already, please read my post '...And who won today?' To understand more of where I am coming from, and know that I do believe there are many things that are much more important than a clean house! Oh, and I do plan on making a sign for my living room that says, "Please excuse the mess, we live here." to cover all the many other days that my house is messy. ;) 

Ps: I read an awesome post by a friend the other day about Minimalism. I am super excited to try some of her great ideas, check it out here

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  1. great post Brook! And your blog looks fantastic! I subscribe to it in my RSS feed and it looks great there too :)


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