Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Helpful Hints From The Housewife

In no particular order:

-If you have a child old enough to sit up unassisted in the tub (and be trusted not to start performing acrobatics and/or climbing out of the tub the second you turn your back,) take a few minutes of their playtime as a chance to clean the toilet, wipe down the sink, straighten the towel closet, etc. A few days of this and you'll have a clean bathroom! Every fixture won't be perfectly clean at the same time, of course, but things will stay decent. A really ambitious mother may even attach sponges to a squirmy child's limbs and turn their splash time into a good bathtub scrubbing. But that would be pushing it.

-Even if you can't get to anything else, try to at least clean up the kitchen (or make sure SOMEONE does) before going to bed. There is nothing like facing a sink full of dishes and a counter top splattered with crusted marinara to kill what little morale you may have after changing two nighttime diapers.

-Every house needs a clutter spot, of course, a dumping ground for random junk that you technically NEED but that doesn't exactly fit into your decor or your organizational categories. But try not to make this place your bedroom. When you have little kids, Desperate Housewife thinks that the adult bedroom should be a sanctuary for naps, sex, and sleep (though not a good night's sleep, on most days, and not because of all the wild sex, either.) Your room won't feel much like a sanctuary if it is cluttered with stacks of photos to be sorted and piles of unfolded laundry and random papers and overdue library books. Try a dining room, the laundry room, or even the front hallway, but save your room for yourself.

-Don't stress much about floors, or you'll make yourself nuts. This is particularly true if you and your offspring are home all day. When you're spending that much time in the house, the floors are going to be smudged or crumbed or otherwise have their freshly mopped/vacuumed glory bespotted within about five minutes. So aim to clean them with some regularity, but don't make gleaming floors the hallmark of your tidy home, or you will feel like a failure. And remember: a little Windex and a paper towel can take care of most "mopping" needs. Ditto for a Dust Buster in lieu of a thorough vacuuming.

-There are a few things that can really up the clean level of a room with minimal effort. One of them is making beds. I don't do this EVERY day, but when I do, I notice I feel markedly better when I walk into the room. (I also notice less dog hair on my sheets.) Another trick is dusting or wiping just the main surfaces of a room. If the counters are a mess, so be it, but if you have a kitchen table, at least try to keep it wiped down, and it will be a clean haven for your eyes to rest on when everything else looks chaotic. Same goes for coffee tables. If you can get them wiped down every other day or so, and maybe the end tables too, if you have time, it will help a lot with providing a clean "feel" even if everything in the living room/den area hasn't been freshly dusted.

-This was Swistle's hint first, but I have been doing it ever since Addy was little, so I'm going to claim it, too! Keep the value sized diaper boxes in your kid's closet, and use them to store too small/too big clothing. Much faster and cheaper than more elaborate systems, while not necessarily as decorative. Try to keep the boxes marked, though, or you may get confused and start cursing yourself for your box system. Not that I would know.

-Have a chocolate stash at all times. A SECRET chocolate stash.

-INVEST IN A PLAY YARD!! I cannot emphasize this strongly enough. You will not be sorry. It will look like a mini prison right there in your living room, assaulting your eyes with its ugliness, but you STILL will not be sorry, because that mini prison will be the thin, gray plastic line between you and a drinking problem. (Little joke there, now, don't fret.) (But still.)

Oh yeah. Still no reassuring visitor. But this morning's test says I'm in the clear, so I'm just blaming breastfeeding for whacked out hormones. Yes? Or should I be concerned about the trustworthiness of tests purchased from unknown online company?


Jess said...

*crossing fingers that you get a positive so that we can bein misery together once again*

Thanks for these tips. I am cleaning challenged, so any bit helps :)

LoriD said...

Great tips!

I do that bathroom thing too.

We try to do a 10-minute tidy every night before the kids head upstairs for baths, bedtime, etc. Keeping on top of the clutter makes actual cleaning (like mopping and vacuuming) so much easier. My husband mops our floors regularly. His technique is to spray on some diluted cleaner, spread it around with the mop and dry it all with a towel. He does the whole kitchen in about 2 minutes!

Saly said...

Oh you make me laugh so hard! "and not because of all the wild sex, either" !!! I know, right!!

I do the bathroom thing. Otherwise the darn thing would never be clean. And having been without a dishwasher for a few weeks Hub and I both are just quick washing dishes 2 or 3 times a day. It's making a huge difference!

I like that when the kids are older, you can put them to work. Both kids clean up toys before bed each night and Lucy handles any dirty laundry strewn about by placing it in the hamper, and Bud organizes shoes.

Maybe I can get one of them to change diapers....

desperate housewife said...

Saly- I cannot WAIT until Addy is old enough to help a little. She can pick up her toys, at this point, but is still so slow and tedious about it that it's much faster to do it myself. Though I should probably still allow her to do it, for pride and self worth and the feeling of having contributed and blah blah blah.

Jess said...

This is the second post I've read today that mentioned making the bed as a way to make the whole room look better. It's totally true.

Also, I am WITH YOU on the whole "wash the dishes right away" thing. And it's so much easier to do before things get all congealed.

SLynnRo said...

It's amazing what a made bed can do your self esteem. I'm not even kidding.

Tessie said...

Okay, I don't make the beds, but the one thing that makes me feel like the house is "clean", even if it's NOT, is vacuuming. At least I can't see the big chunks that way.

I'm thinking No Means No on the test. Anyway, you can just take like one a day now for months on end. That's the beauty.

Maggie said...

Excellent list -- I am in total agreement! Although lately I have gotten bad about making the bed. Oops.

As far as the negative test goes...it happens, but is not all that common, to get a false negative. So I would think that you could safely assume that no means no. Unless you are having something else to make you think the test is wrong...

And now I feel like I need to go and clean something.

Swistle said...

I always have a few weird cycles when I start up again. Which is why I didn't immediately suspect there was a Henry.

...Ha ha! That is true, but also I am messing with you! I ALSO had a bunch of weird cycles that were NOT a pregnancy, and in fact that's what I'm doing now again, now that I'm weaning that same Stealth Baby.

Bird said...

I consider myself a "casual housekeeper." Basically, I think that my house should be cleaner, but that's about how invested I get in the whole process.

I do agree about the making the beds thing. The house can look like it got hit by a hurricane, but a made bed will make you feel better. I, however, can't indulge in that at the moment. My dog got hit by a car and proceeded to bleed all over my coverlet--NOT COOL. Also, hard to clean. I guess I need to try bleaching it before I give up and go get another.

Bird said...

I guess I should quickly add that the dog is fine! so people don't think I'm talking about dog carnage in your comments.

Jill said...

My mom's tip from her pre-dishwasher days was to keep a plastic tub under the sink and put all the dirty dishes in there rather than let them load up in the sink where everyone can see them.
As for floors, I really don't think the swiffer wet thing actually counts as mopping, but I use it in between so that I don't have to get down with a bucket and a rag and mop as often and it works pretty well for that.
Also, I'm interested in the accuracy of your tests because I finally ordered some from their site after reading your post yesterday. So don't fail me now! haha.

d e v a n said...

LOve the tips, except dh gives the bath so I'll have to pass that one along to him. haha

Marie Green said...

I like all of your cleaning tips. I need a (SEMI) clean enviroment or I slowly loose my will to live. We operate under the "toys picked up/dishes done" before bed each night rule. LOVE THAT RULE. That rule eliminates morning despair.

Also, I make the beds only if I get to it before noon. If it's after noon, I give myself a pass for the day. Eliminates guilt. Keeps it from hanging over my head all day.

We do a deep clean on Saturday morning (or sometime over the weekend), and just do spot cleaning in between. Seeing that the floors are quickly declining, I can either spot clean them, or rationalize that we'll be cleaning again in a day or two. Win-win.