Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Housekeeping, toddler-rearing-- and the quest for Clean

I loved the living room of my new house as soon as we saw it. The play room. That's what it would be. I imagined the toys neatly stacked and organized. The easel in the corner. The book shelf filled with his favorite stories. The perfect way to keep my house organized in the face of a toddler who often fancies himself the Tasmanian Devil. Chaos would surely happen, but relegated to the confines of his play room.

Yeah, right.

My son's toys are everywhere. In the play room sure, but also filling up our family room and scattered through the kitchen. It's not that he has a lot of toys. Compared to other kids, he's understocked, but  puzzle pieces, legos and the like have a lot of pieces and these tiny pieces scatter. We clean up daily but by mid-afternoon you'd think a mini-cyclone passed through these parts scattering toys [and pots. and pans] in its wake.

I'm slowly realizing that keeping a house in good 'oh just drop by in five minutes no chaos here nosirreebob' order is easier said than done.

Take mopping. Our entire ground floor, save the family room, is hardwood floors. Pretty to look at but a pain to manage. The house was built in 1988, a time when some hardwoods were finished and some unfinished and for the life of me I can't figure out what type of floors these are which is important since each type has starkly different ways to be kept clean. Regardless of hardwood finish, water can't touch hardwoods which is fine and dandy but how do you manage this when the hardwoods are in the kitchen and breakfast area? Between spilled glasses, washing dishes, cooking meals--- water happens people! I keep a towel handy and do my best to immediately dry out wet spots [though I don't always succeed] but despite doing this and weekly moppings, sprinkly water marks happen. How does anyone with hardwoods and a toddler keep them looking sparkly and water mark free?

More than all of this, when you add in daily cooking and basic upkeep--- keeping a home dusted, vacuumed, mopped with scrubbed toilets and bath and organized filing systems takes time and energy and effort. And while some days when the mood really strikes me I can find myself spending nearly the entire day working away--- I'm usually left exhausted and not as fully capable of playing hide and seek, catch the penguin, and building and tearing down lego structures with the little guy I love. While I do believe as the parent staying at home, the bulk of home upkeep falls on me, I'm not staying home to be a cleaning lady. I'm home to spend time with my son. As it stands, its nearly impossible to do both perfectly.

Miss Suzy Homemaker I am not. But I do want to keep the tide of chaos a step away. With a toddler, this often feels like something that is just never going to happen. A mom I met recently joked that the worst thing one mother can do to another is clean up before a play date. This makes me think that maybe? I'm not alone. 

Look mama! All the pots you could possibly need for tonight's meal!
If you're reading this do you have any advice or tips that worked for you in keeping the house clean and/or organized? Or, are you like me, constantly pushing back an impending avalanche? I know this time is temporary and I am truly enjoying every drop of it but when it comes to house-keeping with a toddler in tow, I would love to get some perspective!

10 comments:

HijabMan said...

a quarterly clean by a professional and a robotic vacuum :)

Leigh Ann Ahmad said...

Hello dear! I struggle with this as I love a clean and tidy home. It's a losing battle ;-)
I'm strict about "no toys in the kitchen, study, bathrooms and master bedroom." I also make kiddos pick up after themselves in the afternoon and them again before bed.
I use a water steam mop on my hard wood which I like. I also learned to ignore a lot of the blemishes. I also have a rule about one hour of mommy (no cleaning) time during the nap hours and also NO cleaning on Sundays to enjoy a family day.
I have also succumed and hired a professional cleaner to help ( I have two cats, two boys and a lot of visitors-- see justify, justify). My professional cones every 4-6 weeks and she scrubs cabinets, counters, hand washes floors and cleans my bathrooms. These three hours really, really make my life much better :-)

Aisha said...

Javed, long time no speak, nice to hear from you!Them robotic vaccums actually work? On hardwoods?

Leigh Ann, thank you for sympathizing! I'm beginning to think a professional cleaner might be a good thing to have in the frequency level you are doing it, it might even be relatively affordable. The previous owners of his home had weekly house keeping but I can't even imagine how much that would cost. Thanks for the tips, I really appreciate it!

Erin said...

The only time to enjoy a clean and tidy home is when the kids are sleeping!

Tracy said...

That's just life when you have kids this age. You'll enjoy a cleaner home when they're older. (Cleaner though not perfectly clean, because older kids have ways of making their own kinds of messes.)

Just get Waleed in the habit of helping. Most kids go through a phase where they LOVE cleaning because that's the cool adult thing they see Mommy doing. Take advantage of that and establish habits! I even bought my kids little brooms and mops, etc. when they were little LOL ... Stick some of those dusting mitts on his feet and let him run around and clean up the dust bunnies ;)

Seriously, one day, (God willing), we'll be old retired people in quiet houses that never get dirty and you'll miss the little hand prints on the wall and Cheerios on the floor - so enjoy it.

My younger son's Kindergarten class made Mother's Day gifts for their moms. It's a laminated poem and a hand print from the child. The poem always makes me choke up. (I have it hanging in my kitchen - one of the few crafts I held onto over the years.)

Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small
And always leave my fingerprints
On furniture and walls.

But every day I'm growing -
I'll be grown some day
And all those tiny handprints
Will surely fade away.

So here's a little handprint
Just so you can recall
Exactly how my fingers looked
When I was very small.

Aisha said...

Erin, only if you clean it while they're sleeping LOL :)

Tracy, that is so true. And yes, he LOVES helping, but often he will make a mess, just to help clean it up :0/ That is a bittersweet poem though. . . thanks for the reminder. . . sniff :0/

Mina said...

I try to tidy the mess up asap. George is not allowed to play with all toys at once. If he wants to play with megablock, the duplo horsies must go back to sleep. It's mostly I who does everything cleaning wise. But G helps (I volunteer him every time :-)). If it is food spilt on the floor, he must help as well.
Otherwise, there are some basic rules, which I made up and am currently the only one observing them :-)) : put back what I use the minute I am done using it; clean up mess NOW, while fresh; if there is sth I remember to do and it takes a few minutes, I do not postpone (golden rule, it is amazing how many little jobs there are in a household, and they pile up daily!). Big cleaning gets done in chunks: bathroom scrubbing one day, vacuuming another (but this one is frustrating, in an hour afterwards, crumbs appear miraculosly out of thin air and lint comes out of hiding - GAH!), window washing is not my department (thank god for tools loving husbands!), floor washing occurs when necessary (lime stone floor is very dirt resistent)m so on.
It is not as clean as I would like or as tidy as

Mina said...

Drat!
So,I was saying, it may not be as clean and tidy as I would like, but considering I am doing most of the stuff and hubs helps during the weekend, it is decent enough. I am not ashamed of receiving unannounced guests. Which is the height of my expectations these days.

katery said...

i don't have any magic housekeeping tips, sorry, but waleed is SUCH a doll!

Jamila said...

I break up household cleaning into daily tasks. I spend about 15-30 minutes cleaning per day, with maybe one 45-60 minute day. It keeps me from going insane with the mess and makes it manageable. As far as toys, I try to keep them contained to the playroom/family room downstairs. But some move upstairs. I try to pick up those toys in the evening, I let the playroom stay messy lol. I can't be bothered in my current state. ;)

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