Reasonably Vs. Perfectly Clean

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                  Everyone appreciates a clean home but life gets in the way and sometimes there is not as much time as one would like to clean! One might say that an easy fix is to hire a cleaning service, however everyone’s budget (including mine) does not allow for that. Please note this post is not to criticize anyone who uses a cleaning service but rather just offers some perspective on keeping your house reasonably clean.

                  I used to obsess about cleaning everything perfectly by sticking to my day specific cleaning routine. On Mondays through Wednesdays I would dust (including floor boards), Thursdays I would vacuum, and Sundays I would clean the bathrooms before church. In between I would work on laundry and other organizational things as well squeeze in tasks like dusting ceiling fans and cleaning windows. Prior to having kids, this plan worked out pretty well and even when my oldest was a baby and took long naps this was attainable. Now that I have two kids and they make more messes and sleep less this is harder to achieve.

                  It is only until recently that I realized I cannot let myself get worked up and stressed out about the house.  Sometimes it is OK to watch something stupid on TV or even nap when they are “napping.”   I need a mental break and I am learning that I have to take care of myself too. Also, spending time with them is more important than the mess! So now my mantra is, “Keep it reasonably clean!” Basically that means that I want my house to be presentable enough that if someone stopped by unannounced I would not be embarrassed to let them in. I do this by prioritizing the most important tasks and for everyone that is going to look different.

                  For me, it is important that the kitchen is clean, so I always rinse dishes off and stick them in the dishwasher after each meal as well wipe down the counter tops and table. Sweeping and mopping are usually involved as it looks like a food fight went down anytime we eat a meal or snack. We are in the kitchen 90% of our time and we eat in here, so I want this area to be clean, plus I am not a fan of ants! Another strategy I use is to limit kid activities to certain parts of the house. The kids are not allowed in certain rooms without supervision for safety but also preservation purposes. This minimizes mess and keeps some areas nice at all times. I also frequently go through clothes and other items and stop at Goodwill. Today for example, I made a stop and dropped off just three clothing items. This helps me keep clutter at bay. Some other things I do is have the kids clean up before a big transition. Although I am doing most of it, I assign my 3-year-old a specific age appropriate task such as putting all the books back on the shelf and my 1-year-old a very simple task like putting the toy vacuum under the window. If they cannot go outside until the family room is picked up they are more motivated (at least in theory) to pick up! As well, it is training them on how to take care of a house.

                  These are some of the things I prioritize on a daily basis to keep the house picked up. I do the best I can to keep up with dusting and vacuuming but if I need a break or end up staying out longer one day, I let it go and get to it as soon as I can. This mindset has helped me to relax more and not get so worked up at having a perfect house because the reality is there is no such thing. Any other tips or tricks to keep your house reasonably-not perfectly- clean?

Susie Dyson lives in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati with her husband and two toddlers. She formerly taught High School but now enjoys adventuring around town with her two little ones in tow and always is trying to find a deal or coupon. Also, you can usually spot her drinking coffee.

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