Is it possible to balance work, kids, and keeping a clean house? It’s possible. What about for busy, working moms? Yep.
For a few seconds, you have a sparkly, squeaky-clean kitchen, until the munchkins come barreling in the door with muddy feet and squeaky screams. For a few seconds, you stand back and admire the toy-free floor, walk away to do something else, and end up stepping on Legos with no munchkin in sight. How do they do that?
You wonder if the “eyes in the back of your head” superpower is glitching. Try to talk to your child about why and how ketchup ended up on the ceiling, and they point at a sibling or blame their imaginary friend Tootsy after being caught literally red-handed.
Yet, it is possible to keep your house clean for more than a few seconds. Here’s the busy, working mom’s guide to trying to keep the house clean — emphasis on trying.
- Different Definitions of Clean
You and your child have a different definition of clean. Just accept it, and try to work with it instead of against it. Your child sees a small mess on the floor in an otherwise dirt-free area and thinks it’s clean. Perhaps their definition is limited to equating a dirty home with literal dirt and dust.
Expand the definition. If your child has a habit of “cleaning” by shoving everything under the bed, accommodate that. Create storage under the bed and make bins for specific categories of toys and clothes they can just dump their mess in and call it clean. Sometimes, kids make messes for attention. The key is to give your child attention and oversee what’s being done while answering questions. Meet in the middle.
- Be Happy With “Lived In”
If you spend your time cleaning up every mess, your child will be having their own kids before you’re satisfied. Maintaining a clean home must never take the backseat to enjoying your time with your child and living your life.
Sometimes, bills have to be tossed on the counter. Sometimes, closets must be emptied on beds that are unmade to make it to school on time fully clothed. A lived-in home is a well-loved home with personality.
- Everyone Pitches In
Does your child live in your house? Yes. Can they hold a towel and move it around on a surface? If your child can play with toy cars on your coffee table, then they’re old enough to dust it. Don’t do chores alone, because a parent doesn’t equal a personal housekeeper.
Your child can brush their teeth, right? They also love making messes. Well, you can make a useful mess while cleaning.
Did you know toothpaste can be used for many household chores? Tell them you’re going to do something cool with the toothpaste. For example, remove watermarks on the coffee table with non-gel toothpaste, rubbing the surface with the paste and a soft cloth. Remove with a slightly wet cloth and polish the table. With practice, your child can do this spot cleaning individually. Instead of punishing your child, empower them to fix their messes by using toothpaste to remove crayon marks from a wall.
Start getting your child to place their clothes in the hamper and help you do a few basic cleaning tasks, such as dusting or sweeping. Take rooms one by one together with youngsters, who will get to spend time with Mom and Dad while keeping the house clean.
- Focus on Being a Homemaker, Not a Housekeeper
Always remember that your role as a parent is a homemaker, not a housekeeper. Truthfully, being a parent takes lots of work, and you’re always cleaning up messes, including those outside of your home. You’re a homemaker in your community, for an aging parent, and even at work as you build a positive work environment with your coworkers.
Many demands of your time make it difficult to keep a clean home. Focus first on the bigger picture aspects of housekeeping as it relates to your role as a homemaker. For example, meal planning and preparation can be done with the entire family, with each person responsible for an aspect while working collaboratively. Apps such as Pepperplate and Paprika help you take indecision out of meal preparation while helping you grocery shop and follow healthy recipes.
The time flies by with your kids growing up, and not everything is fun and games. Your children have to learn the art of adulting before they fly the coup.
They have to learn how to clean up after themselves but also that not all messes are bad. A lived-in home has personality, showcasing that your priority is with living life and take care of the important things first. So, focus on being a homemaker, not a housekeeper, spearheading the ship that’s your home as everyone does their part.
Jennifer Landis the writer and blogger behind Mindfulness Mama. She’s a proud mama and wife who writes about healthy living, fitness, yoga, and parenting. She loves peanut butter, drinking tea, distance running, and Doctor Who. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELanids.