Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cleaning After Children Arrive

Next weekend we are having a small soiree for Chloe's birthday and I was thinking of the things I have to do before everyone comes.  I tend to make lists and then I sometimes make sub-lists (and then I leave the lists behind and forget about half the things on the lists).  And I was surprised, looking at my list, how my priorities have changed since I've had kids.  For instance, I used to have a "to clean" list and now my master list just has two cleaning entries: 1. vacuum, and 2. clean bathrooms.

You see, before I had kids I used to clean ALL the time.  I swear, I loved to clean.  On the weekends, Brian would spend Saturday afternoon doing some work and I would clean.  I would dust, vacuum, get on my hands and knees and clean the floors, etc.  I'm pretty sure that you could have eaten off of any surface in my house.  Brian always joked that my definition of dirty was someone else's definition of immaculate.  And let's be honest, how dirty could my house have been?  It was only Brian and I and some cats.

Then we had Evan and during my c-section recuperation I didn't really clean that much.  But, once I was better and once he was sleeping on a schedule I was back to cleaning.  Since it was only snippets here and there it probably wasn't as deep cleaning but things were still really clean.  Then we moved to an industrial loft in Atlanta and cleaning changed.

First off, if you remember, our loft did have a door to Evan's bedroom but it wasn't exactly soundproof.  So while Evan was sleeping (12 hours at night, 4 hours during the day) I couldn't do laundry or vacuum.  And since Evan started to get mobile in the loft, when he was awake he was constantly underfoot, and grabby, which made cleaning dangerous.  In addition, did I mention the loft was industrial?  This means my concrete floors had cracks where dirt lived forever and or rafters had dirt leftover from when it was a warehouse.  You couldn't get the place clean if you tried.

Then we moved to the new apartment in Atlanta and cleaning was easier in that Evan's room was insulated from sound and far away from the washer and dryer.  What was difficult there is that we shoved so much stuff in that tiny apartment that you couldn't get in between everything to get all the dust / dirt out.  Oh yeah, and life was a little stressful because I was pregnant and building a house - remember that?

Then we moved into our house during construction.  I swear it takes a full year to completely get rid of construction dust (and we didn't live there a full year).  Then I had a newborn... then the pollen in Atlanta descended and made the inside of my house yellow... then we had a ladybug infestation... blah blah blah, excuse, excuse, excuse.

And then... we moved one more time to Maryland.  And now I have 2 mobile children who literally follow me around and dirty whatever I just cleaned.  I'm not kidding.  I put something away, Chloe drags it back out.  I clean a floor, Evan follows behind me with dirt on his feet.  The only feeling worse than having everything un-cleaned is laundry because I swear that as soon as I finish putting all the clean laundry away all the laundry baskets are full again.  And so, I no longer love cleaning... and I don't spend a whole lot of time doing it anymore. 

I can still see the dust on the baseboards I just don't have it on my list as a priority.  Yes, I could be like some super-organized moms who follow a cleaning schedule (laundry on Monday, bathrooms on Tuesday, etc) but in reality I'm not much older than a teenager when it comes to schedules and if you tell me, or if I tell myself, to do laundry every Monday then I will find reasons I can't do laundry on Mondays.  Remember - schedules don't work for me. 

Or, during nap time I could spend some time cleaning... but here are the things I would rather be doing during nap time in no particular order of importance:
  • Writing my blog
  • Catching up on TV (hello... HBO's "Game of Thrones")
  • Napping
  • Writing lists ("To Do", "Grocery", etc)
  • Meal Planning
  • Reading
  • Looking at Facebook
  • Picking my teeth

So here is how my cleaning schedule works now: I tend to vacuum when I look at the floor and think "my God, Chloe is crawling around on this."  Or I dust if I see Chloe or Evan put something in their mouth that just sat in a pile of dust.  And, I do laundry when Brian tells me he is almost out of socks or when I putting the kids in something that fits "enough."  I've gone the "as needed" route rather than the "preemptive" route.

And, using my excellent skills of rationalization, I've decided my way is good because, 1) it will make my children healthy as adults (since it will probably introduce them to germs), 2) it means I have more time to play with my children, and 3) hopefully it will teach my children that there are more important things than base boards that shine.

I mean, don't get me wrong, my house is still clean (we aren't stepping over day old pizza or anything like that) but if your sandwich falls on the floor let's just say I wouldn't pick it up and continue to eat it if I were you.


  1. Oh dear. I don't like to clean now and it doesn't sound like that is going to get better when Ruby arrives. My mom is aghast at the thought of her grandchild crawling around on my dog hairy floors. I'm going to take up your argument and just consider it boosting her immune system.

    1. Two kids have survived the hair of 4 cats - it won't kill them, I promise.