I have never been a “Martha Stewart” type homemaker, and having kids sure hasn’t endeared me to maintaining an immaculate home. I still look around in sheer amazement when I visit the homes of friends, where they always seem to have a spotless house (you know who you are! Haha!).
While I completely support the advice of “sleeping when the baby sleeps,” I can also honestly admit that staring at clutter and dirt all day can make sleeping near impossible! I also strongly believe in the mantra, “work smarter, not harder,” and that definitely applies to housework!
Being on maternity leave left me with some time to really experiment with ways to keep my house clean; I really wanted to be as baby-friendly as possible with my cleaning products, I didn’t want to spend every day cleaning, and I didn’t want to spend a fortune doing it. Here is what I came up with:
Make your own cleaning products. This is ridiculously easy, and there are countless blogs and websites where you can find a DIY cleaner for just about anything (from laundry detergent to hardwood floor cleaner to goo-gone alternatives!). My best friends became essential oils, vinegar, baking soda, and sunlight laundry bars! My favourite site and go-to for inspiration? Clean Mama, a site all about organically cleaning your home (and so much more!). I ended up purchasing her amazing book of cleaning recipes (click here) and many of my friends and family have since converted! There is also something so empowering about using your own cleaning products and knowing they are completely safe for your babies too! If you are just starting out, good old vinegar and baking soda cleans just about anything! Did I also mention that this helps eliminate a ton of clutter? Now you only need a couple spray bottles that will clean multiple areas, and you can mix up the exact amount you need, when you need it!
Invest in quality cleaning tools. This is so important for achieving a truly clean home; I also have a dog, which means dust and hair can collect within a day under our couch and I don’t have to tell you about how babies love putting things in their mouths….blech! I did quite a bit of research after my mid-range Hoover vacuum died, and I was so nervous about spending several hundred dollars on a vacuum, but in the end, quality won out and I purchased my first Dyson. Spending around $500 may seem ridiculous to some, but I did this in the most financially frugal way possible: I bought through the Shopping Network, where I paid monthly with no interest for a year, and I bought the high-end Cordless Dyson that cost significantly less than a full upright vacuum. Did I mention how it can clean every surface and is super light? I can’t tell you how many times I patted myself on the back when I went to vacuum my stairs while pregnant; no pain for this lady! You really do get what you pay for! Other “tools” to consider can include quality microfibre cleaning cloths (yes there are differences!), and a quality mop or steamer. What are your favourite tools?
Keep it simple. There are thousands of ideas out there about how to clean, and I attempted most of them. I tried picking certain days for certain tasks, or spending one whole day trying to clean the whole house in one big clean, and I printed off numerous printables to try and stay on top of my cleaning. I can tell you right now that being a Mama does not always mean having consistent time off, let along large amounts of free time (and who wants to spend all their free time cleaning?!) Again, with the idea of working smarter, not harder, I have found that if I keep my floors and surfaces clean (read: vacuum/sweep and wipe all counters), and I complete a load of laundry every other day (and actually put it away as well), then the annoying jobs (like bathrooms!) do not seem so intimidating or time-consuming because the rest of the house is not a disaster. Once I had these little routines in place, I found that I could pick a task each week, like cleaning the fridge or stove or wiping the baseboards, and know that I could realistically get it done without sacrificing the general cleanliness of the house.
Location, location, location. Some nights I would be sitting in the bathroom while my daughter had her bath, and I would look around at all the places I needed to clean. It was so disheartening and frustrating to just sit and stare at dirt and dust! There just had to be a solution! Well, it all came down to location and convenience; instead of keeping all my cleaning products in one place (laundry room or under the kitchen sink) I made up a little mini cleaning caddy for each bathroom, consisting of microfibre cloths, disinfecting surface cleaner, and a vinegar/baking soda/tea tree oil collection so I could clean while my daughter had her bath or if I had a quick minute to myself. It only took a few minutes, and it wasn’t a huge pain because I had everything so handy! Other suggestions I have heard include: keeping Lysol wipes under the bathroom sinks for your counters and toilets, or keeping a squeegee in the shower to combat grime build-up! What do you keep handy in your bathrooms?
Cleaning does not have to be the bane of your existence or take over your life, but it does mean a healthier home, and we as Mamas can encourage each other to find smart ways to do this!