When I told my soon-to-be husband (and father of our baby) that I was going to write a blog post on keeping our house clean, he jokingly asked: “Are you just going to write N.A, non-applicable to this household?” That should give you an idea of the cleaning situation in our house. It wasn’t always this sombre, though.
We used to clean our apartment once a week and it would actually stay somewhat decent for the whole seven days. The kitchen counters would get kind of dirty and the laundry would sit unfolded for a couple of days, but we would get it together on Sundays and make a big cleaning. Once upon a time, cleaning once a week was enough. Then we had a baby. A sweet little baby came into our lives. He moved right in to our house and brought along a bunch of stuff. Who knew babies could own so many things. That dirty laundry on the corner? It’s the baby’s. That pile of laundry to fold? It’s the baby’s. The toys scattered throughout the house? The baby’s. The bottles, sippy-cups, and plastic plates piling up in the sink? You guessed it.
The thing is, it is really easy to blame the lack of cleaning on the new baby. It is easy because baby trumps everything. The needs of my little man are way more important than a dirty kitchen. Nothing else matters when you have a crying baby that needs attention, food or comfort. This was especially true during the first few months after our baby was born. We were both exhausted due to the lack of sleeping (the dilemma nap or clean was easily solved). We were adjusting. Times were hard. It is not easy being a new parent. We tried to clean the house once a week like we used to do before and we truly believed that we could pull it off. Clearly, we were being delusional and became pretty good at ignoring puke stains, dusty furniture and dirty floors.
Over the weeks, we realized that we could not go on living like that. The house was a mess. I actually felt embarrassed when people stopped over for a visit. I would say something like “I’m sorry the house is such a mess” and everyone seemed really understanding:
“Don’t worry! You have a baby”. It is a slippery slope, though. Nearly everything can be blamed on the baby and we were guilty of blaming our lack of organization on our son. So wrong. We were the ones who decided to bring a baby into our lives. We knew we had to get our act together and start from scratch. Starting from scratch was such a daunting task. Cleaning is not fun, especially if you work full time and all you want to do when you get home is relax. The big question we had to tackle was: why should either of us be solely responsible for all the cleaning? How do you make it fair?
We talked, divided up tasks and made sure we didn’t feel it was unfair. We decided to give it a try and make adjustments along the way and we definitely have made some improvements since. Our house is nowhere near being showcased in a decor magazine, but we have managed to keep the house somewhat clean most of the time. We recognized that we needed to work on our time-management skills as a team. Who knew that cleaning the house would become such a central part of parenthood? Why is this never mentioned in baby-books? We still do a big cleaning on the weekend, but we stopped ignoring the mess that piles up every day. I tidy up during the week as much as I can and our goal is to eliminate the big weekend clean-up so that we can enjoy our family time without having to worry about all the cleaning we have to get done before Sunday night.
The most important thing for us has been working as a team. We each have different tasks. For example, Ku does the bathroom and I take care of the rooms. It is not easy compromising when it comes to cleaning, but it is also not easy feeling that all of the cleaning responsibilities fall on you. Every situation is different and the ideal 50/50 is sometimes not realistic, but sharing the cleaning load helps lowering the stress levels. The two key things in our experience are working as a team and not letting stuff pile up.
How do you manage to keep your house clean? Do you have any tips on balancing parenthood and cleaning? Do you stick to a plan or do you just clean as you go?