Thursday, January 17, 2008

On My SOAP box (literally)

If cleanliness means nothing to you, please do not read this!

If you LONG to be cleaner and more organized, read at your own risk. You may hate me when it's over.

If you are clean, mean, moppin' machine, read on and give me an AMEN!

Now I may be preachin to the choir, but If I've said it once, I've said it 100 times people...cleanliness is next to Godliness. Okay, so I'm kind of kidding. A little. The topic of my level of home cleanliness has come up at least a dozen times this past month alone, or how I keep my house so clean, and after laughing hysterically at their perception of my clean ways, I often say in a half joking (but really I'm totally serious) kind of way, "Oh you know what they say, cleanliness is next to Godliness." So I thought I'd share my "methods" to keeping a neat and tidy, clean house. HIRE A MAID!!! Ba-da-bing. I'm Kidding! Okay, seriously, marry a man who values cleanliness and knows how to scrub a mean toilet. Okay, again, I'm kidding.

No, really, keeping the house clean is a FULL TIME JOB and requires a lot of work. There is no fairy Godmother, unfortunately, there is no magic wand. Every time my mom calls and says, "What are you doing?" I answer, "vacuuming, sweeping, doing laundry, doing dishes." And you may be thinking, "I don't want to be that way. I don't want to spend my day spinning my wheels. Spending time with the kids is more important to me than cleaning." And to each his own. In my opinion, if the house is a wreck, I'm a wreck (emotionally) so in order to maintain JOY IN MY HEART, the house must be clean and orderly at all times. And when it's not, I'm a grump!

Now, if you have a child over the age of 6, GOD HAS GIVEN YOU A HELPER....put that kid to work honey! And I've heard moms say, "Well, it's not their job to clean house, it's my job." BULL-ONEY! It's your job as the parent to teach your children how to be neat, organized, responsible, task finishing individuals. One way to accomplish that is with chores. By the age of 8, I was cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming, sweeping, folding clothes, cleaning out my closet regularly, and helping with the dinner dishes every night. Not because I was obsessive compulsive (at least not yet), but because those were my daily chores. We didn't leave the house for school each morning until our rooms were tidy and the beds were made. Oh, yes, indeedy, my children, God bless their souls, will be doing chores as soon as they are able. They do attempt to clean and vacuum their rooms, make up their beds, and feed the dog already. Oh, I fully intend to use the help God gave me one of these days. And it is my opinion that children who do chores are less likely to make as many messes. They take pride in their cleaning job and don't want it to get messed up. But since I have a 2 yr old and a 4 yr old who make plenty of messes these days, I thought I'd share my cleaning "schedule". This is just a CLEANING schedule. Not a "what we do all day" schedule. We do bathe, play together, do crafts, play outside, run errands, and such. But here's when I clean.

Morning: Each morning after breakfast, I unload/load the dishwasher, tidy up the house, vacuum, sweep, and almost always fold a load of clothes and put them away. About twice per week, the floors get mopped. I usually spend about an hour each morning on housework, sometimes two. And what are my children doing during this time? Playing independently, artwork, or playdough, and helping me a little here and there. The t.v. is on IN THEIR ROOMS (yes, they have a t.v. in their rooms...gasp...just like I did growing up) but they really could care less. It's just noise. (Sometimes I WISH they would just sit still and watch the dern thing!!!) Basically, they are making more messes as I'm cleaning. It's a vicious cycle, but hang with me here! You can't feel guilty that you're not spending every waking minute entertaining them. If you are, you're setting them up for MAJOR disappointment in life. Playing independently, or with siblings, is a life skill.
Afternoon: after lunch, put dishes in dishwasher, more laundry if needed. This only takes 10-15 minutes to clean up after lunch.
Evening: the children can't go to bed until their rooms are back in order, toys put away and this requires INSPECTING, not EXPECTING...this is a hands on job that requires teaching with modeling. Once again, all dishes are put in dishwasher and the dishwasher usually gets started every night. No dirty dishes are left out. Cary takes out the trash almost every other night. Sometimes I run the vacuum again, depending on how much food and dirt made it to the floor that day. Sometimes another load of laundry is put in and folded. This takes about another hour or so of cleaning at nighttime.

Once per week, I do a deep cleaning where bathrooms get scrubbed, floors get bleached, everything gets dusted, towels on towel racks get washed, and the bed linens get changed. My weekly deep cleaning usually takes about 4-5 hours. I do this when the children are OUT of the house. Most of the time, it's on Mondays when they are in school. But before they started school, I had Cary pick a day or night and he would take them somewhere for that long so I could get it done without a million interruptions. That's what worked best for us. This may not be an option for everyone. But he knows this is what makes Momma happy, therefore everyone is happy!

Once per month, the rugs get washed, windowsills get cleaned, baseboards get dusted, ceiling fans get dusted, etc.

And I admit that some days, the job seems overwhelming and I want to say, "WHERE DO I BEGIN???" I start at one end of the house. For me, it's the eating area. And I work my way from that end of the house to the other, room by room, space by space. When I'm putting things away that were in the living room area, I just go lay it in the room it belongs, and then when I get to that room to actually clean it, the object gets put in its proper place at that point. This is the most efficient way I've found to clean and stay on task. As you get through with each room, you'll feel such a sense of accomplishment that will inspire to you press on!

Working moms obviously cannot stick to such a schedule as mine, but since no one's home all day, things should stay a little cleaner. When I did work full time, I just made sure I went to bed every night with a tidy house. Even after Lexi was born and I was working full time, I would clean up every night which usually took about an hour, including some laundry and vacuuming and doing dishes.

Some may wonder, WHY be so clean, what does it all benefit? Well, in the second chapter of the gospel according to Heather, it clearly states that cleanliness is next to Godliness. I'm Kidding! A clean and orderly home results in less stress for you, better health (dust mites are EVIL), teaches your children organization and cleanliness so they can function in life. I can't tell you how many roommates I've had that couldn't clean to save their life! Momma always did it for them, so they were just slobs. No one wants to live with a slob. Your husband may say he doesn't care how clean the house is. It's not true. You don't believe me? Clean your house. See what happens. He cares, he just may need help realizing he cares. My husband always says he doesn't care if I "let things go" but when he gets into bed after me changing the sheets, he often comments on how good clean sheets feel. He notices and he cares.

I'm PASSIONATE about teaching children the value of cleanliness, can you tell? I know a lady that had her children taken away from her recently because of an unclean home. Now that's extreme. And I'm probably extreme in the other direction. And I often find myself praying, "Lord, help me to not care so much about that spot of juice on the floor, or the playdoh stuck in the rug" because I don't want to be the Natzi Mom all the time. But I hope I've created a balance in our home. Cleanliness at all times. But perfection only comes one day week! (And lasts for about 30 minutes at most!) Now my closets...organized but crammed. And my car...A WRECK! Does that make you feel better?

And this has been your public service announcement.


tales_from_the_crib said...

over six? really? my mom makes me help now and i'm hardly 17 months yet...but then I LOVE the sweepin' and vacuumin' so maybes i'm weirdish.

Ashley said...

Oh, I'm with you on the cleaning. My problem, I watch too many kids. the bad part of that,and what drives me insane, are the kids who DON'T EVER HAVE TO CLEAN AT HOME. Therefore, they don't think they have to clean up their messes here!!

I can go on for hours...when my two year old can pick up his things and put them where they belong...why can't a 10 year old!! I can't tell you how many times I have gone in their room after this child has left and found she has "hidden" the mess under pillows, stuffed animals, etc. I think it's HARDER to think of places to hide the mess then it is to just put it where it belongs. IT DRIVES ME NUTS!

You've got me on my soapbox now...I love a clean house and I understand with nine kids running around here everyday it's not going to be AS clean as i would like, but I still deserve it to be near's still my house even if I have a billion kids here and I don't think it's too much to ask to expect them to clean up you?? There are times when I want to tell her parents that she just DOES NOT CLEAN UP but I don't know how they'd feel about it, if they thought I was too strict but then again, it's my house and they're the ones asking me to keep their kid...right??

Texas Aggie in Florida said...

Thank you for letting me vent. I'm very black and white about certain things and I know my views on things like this may offend some, but I will not apologize for telling what I think my MY blog.

I've been over to lots of people's houses over the years who have older children and they're house is a wreck and I can't help but to have teenagers/and or older children, you homeschool, WHY IS YOUR HOUSE NOT CLEAN???? Those kids would be getting a lesson in Home Ec every cleaning 101 if they lived in my house. There's just no reason for that. In my opinion. It's my blog and that's my opinion! So there.

Anonymous said...

I think I created a monster. You know how I feel about a clean house, inside and out, and even my cars. Remeber some of your friends use to remark that our house smelled like a hospital because it was so clean and the microwave was the true test....Is it clean inside? This is all good, but make your priority your family. Sometimes we have to let things go in order to do things for them. I love it that you learned so well, and that you are teaching your girls to be good housekeepers as well. It all flows over into the rest of your life. Your organization skills help in all aspects of your life. Cleanliness will affect how clean you dress and personal hygiene.

God Love You,

mom2iande said...

Funny....neat freak!!!

I really hate cleaning, but I hate a I clean!!! This is my cleaning routine...

Either Sunday evening or Monday morning I wash dark clothes (some hang and some go in the dryer), while I clean the kitchen and all three baths.

On either Weds evening or Thursday morning, I dust the furniture and wipe windowsills while the whites wash (most of them go in the dryer).

It gets the job done and doesn't take all my time this way! It depends on if I have something on the mornings if I do it at night. Sometimes, the hubby and I pick a night and after the kids go to bed, he gets the downstairs and I get the upstairs and we clean the whole house in about an hour. It works for us.

Rachel said...

HMMMM...I love a clean house, But, I would rather watch a movie. :) The absolute 1st thing I will do when I go back to work is hire a maid.

As for making the kids do it, I agree. You have reminded me that I need to start making Jacob do more. He is very capable...Emma too for that matter. Yesterday David was going to take the kids bowling so I could stay home and clean. But, Emma wanted to stay with me and help. I was begging for her to go w/daddy to have that alone time though!! :)

Mel :-) said...

I wish I had your energy (and desire!!) to clean that much!! I do a little bit each day and the rest on Fridays and my hubby helps on the weekends! My Girls pitch in and do what they can too. That works for us!! :-)

Kim said...

okay... you're hired. I'm your worst nightmare. Well, maybe a third world country would be your worst nightmare. You would just shake your head in my house. And I would nod and say "how much?" And then I would go to the thrift store and let you have at it. I'm tidy(ish). I clean for company. Or my mom and mother-in-law. Thank goodness they come for visits!

Anonymous said...

I love your take on this and agree whole heartedly although my house isn't as clean as I'd like. I agree with the kids helping out. My almost 4year old helps out and we are considering giving her a chore chart when she turns four.

I teach 3rd grade and for a journal entry I asked the kids to write about the chores they have, which is their favorite, do they get paid, etc. I was flabergasted when one of the girls said she doesn't have chores and that got me on my soapbox about why kids have chores. A boy in another class said he doesn't have chores but wishes he could but his parents don't let him. Does that make your jaw drop or what?

P.S. I'm a friend of Kim's and found your blog through her.