The short answer to how do I keep the house clean is, “Not very well!”
The long answer is, it is organized, but not tidy or decorated. I should get better at this, it’s important to DH and B, they are either distracted or inspired by their environment, way more than I am. I look at a house like a lab to create things in, not a creation in itself, but I am not the only one living here! Since most of my hobbies grew out of things I was NOT attracted to initially, perhaps it will someday become something I love. Meanwhile, lots of chores, and getting short people to do chores.
I think I’m better at housekeeping than I was when I was single (I would save up my dishes for Saturday nights and wash them all then while listening to the Prairie Home Companion). My college roommates reminisced about yarn balls rolling underfoot and tripping them as their main memory of me. But since there are now 2 kids making messes – plus three other people in the house starting projects and getting interrupted before picking up the robot, computer parts or knitting, it’s hard to tell if I really am better at this or not!
I am a visual person who likes to see what I’ve got to work with. I do have a level of mess that causes me to feel blocked in and unable to function – but that level is higher than, say, DH’s. While I will never be one of those women who don’t teach their children to clean because they “have,” to do it themselves so it’s “right,” my kids may not learn to clean well because I haven’t developed the good habits in time to pass them on!
Two books really helped me think about my relationship with stuff:
Passing on things that someone else might use, but I don’t need right now, and creating adequate storage have helped tremendously – if it’s not there I don’t have to put it away and dust it! (not that we do enough dusting around here). And, things can’t be in their place, if they haven’t got a place.
DH often does the last set of dishes in the evenings, I usually do one set before dinner. I keep meaning to make this one of B’s chores, but right now his babysitting contributions are more critical, not that he doesn’t know how!
I try to keep the mail from becoming clutter by sorting it out in the foyer by the trash can – obvious junk and catalogs that will just make me discontent get tossed immediately. I put bills right away into the bill basket with the stamps and envelopes.
Clean laundry is a problem: if the baskets were washed in mixed loads (people, not color) then they have to be seriously sorted, or the older kids will try to wear the cloths that don’t fit them anymore and were passed down. If I don’t have time, the clean stuff piles up in the workshop. B used to do all his and M’s laundry, but with trickier school work, something had to give to get it all done.
In the last few years, we gave the boys floor to ceiling Ikea trofast storage, our friend K gave us 7, 7ft bookshelves, and we bought a tall Ikea Expidit shelf to replace some drawers and filing cabinets (less footprint after we went vertical). That has made it possible to keep things tidy. It still takes a lot of K-is-under-control-and-the-boys-are-pitching-in to get things picked up though.
OK, actual cleaning: I wander through the house with the little white board and marker, noting what needs doing. I call the kids into the kitchen and we divey up the jobs (based on what the kids are able to do. For some reason, no one has trained them in on cleaning the bathroom yet-Hmmm, this week?). We also have to factor K into the deal: she will un-clean if she is not supervised. I will generally have her with me – she can hand me her books and toys off the floor, but reaching the toy rotation shelf or putting books on the bookcase is too awkward for her yet. Once the boys are done with their jobs (assuming I haven’t had to break up a fight) I switch care of K to B and work with M. When I vacuum (I need to get my vacuum fixed or replaced, it’s iffy right now) I vacuum the living room first, then let them watch a video with the door shut while I finish the house. The vacuum has been declared officially scary sounding.
The goal is to do it all once a week. Sometimes I schedule company so that I HAVE to clean up.
Some friends of mine say the Flylady really helps them.
I read Like Mother Like Daughter for tips.
How about you?