I may be a good cook, but my dirty little secret (har) is that I’m not that awesome as a housekeeper. Back in the day, when we were a DINK household and I worked 60+ hour weeks, we paid a cleaning service, and that worked out just fine. But… life has changed since then. The hubby, for all of his good qualities, could not be described as a neat freak, and, as the at-home half of the couple, most of the cleaning responsibilities tend to fall on me now.
I do my best. For about the first year of Nora’s life, I treaded water and tried not to worry too much about the mess. Taking care of an infant is more important, after all, and the first year is hard. I did a mad-dash cleanup when I expected people over, and apologized mildly for the mess if we had an unexpected guest. People understand, after all, when you have a baby.
Deep into Year 2, though, that excuse is wearing thin. You can blame lots of things on a “toddler tornado,” but not everything. I’m getting better at keeping the mess in check, though. The best cleaning advice I ever got was, “Don’t put it down, but it up,” and I really try to follow that. I have a solid routine, with a general cleaning project to tackle each day of the week (floors on Monday, cleaning out clutter on Tuesday, etc.), and I usually do a pretty good job of sticking to it. However, the kitchen has stymied me.
Our kitchen is really the center of our home, which I think is wonderful, and which is one of the main reasons we bought this house. However, it also means that it tends to collect a lot of mess, as a primary family meeting place. We often sit at the bar to eat, and Nora’s high chair is there. Although she doesn’t (usually) throw food anymore, she is still not the world’s tidiest eater, and sometimes the big people are lax about cleaning up immediately after her meals (usually because she’s anxious to be on to bigger and better things). Add in meal prep for three meals a day, plus snacks, plus the general accumulation of stacks of mail and various odds and ends, and you have a cluttered countertop.
It bothers me. So, I instituted a Clean Countertops rule. I do love my gleaming granite, and I found a daily granite spray cleaner that helps to keep them that way. Every night before bed, I must clean the kitchen countertops. That means the countertops must be free of clutter. And, being the person that I am, if I make a rule, I follow it.*
* Well, at least until I don’t… but nobody ever accused me of not being stubborn.
It’s a whole lot easier to keep a kitchen clean than it is to clean it once a week. And, if the kitchen really stays clean, then the bigger projects, like cleaning the stove top or microwave or wiping down the appliances, really aren’t that big when you do them by themselves. So far this is making my life easier, and I’m happy every time I go to bed with a clean kitchen… and wake up to one.
Now if I can only apply this philosophy to all the other rooms, we’ll be all set!