5 Steps to a Clean House

There are few things in life that bring me peace the way a clean house does. When the pasta sauce has been scrubbed off the counter (and the floor, and the wall, and the chair leg) and the garlic bread crumbs have been swept up, I’m filled with glee. It only lasts until the next meal, obviously, but it’s something.

For a time, we had a housekeeper who would come over once a week on Fridays. I’d arrive home from work to the sweet smell of lemon and Windex. The glare off my hardwood floors could blind a person, and there would be vacuum marks on the furniture where cat hair had once been. It was wonderful to start my weekend in such a tidy, pleasant space.

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When I decided to be a stay at home mom – our income slashed in half as a result – we had to trim the budget. Sadly, that meant saying farewell to our housekeeper. I’ve had to get creative to keep our house clean, or at least clean-ish, without losing my damn mind. Here are some tips:

  1. Lower your expectations. This is by far the most helpful strategy. Teach your eyes to divert themselves from misplaced toys and errant crayon marks on the furniture. If you need help with this, ask your husband. I can almost guarantee he’s mastered this skill.
  2. Do one thing every day. When I take a step back and think about all of the rooms that need cleaning, my head starts to spin and my eyes bulge. I don’t have one of those forehead veins that pulse when I’m all keyed up, but if I did, it would be triggered. I treat my house like an emergency triage unit: the most dire task gets done first and the rest have to wait. I find if I can check one thing off my list – just one! – I feel like a rockstar. For example, today I cleaned off my son’s craft table. I know I should be teaching him to do it, but he’s 3 and I’m lucky if I can get him to put socks on, let alone scrub paint off of a table. Tomorrow, I’ll clean the glass on the mirrored nightstands in my bedroom. On a side note – don’t have mirrored nightstands. They’re beautiful but they’re also a pain in the ass.
  3. Re-home your kids. I’m kidding! But it would totally work.
  4. Buy a robot vacuum. I made the unfortunate choice of placing high-pile shag rugs (in white, no less) in my main living spaces, so I doubt one of these would work in my house, but I bet for the vast majority of people one of these would be a godsend. It works while you sleep! Moms, what else does this? Aside from the washer/dryer and dishwasher (which you know you’ll just have to unload when you wake up in the morning), I can think of nothing.
  5. Get rid of clutter and knick knacks. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been in HomeGoods, eyeing some beautiful piece of home decor, only to leave it out of my cart because I know I’ll have to dust it on occasion. I find that seriously limiting the number of nonessential items in my home cuts down on cleaning time. If it serves a function, I can justify adding it to my space, but otherwise I have to just walk away. Bonus – not buying things saves you money!

What do you think? Do you have any useful tips to share? Let me know in the comments.

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