In all fairness, I must disclose the following facts: I am not a clean freak, and never have been, but am not a candidate for Hoarders either. But I am in so many ways the typical American Mom, with too many things to do and not enough time to do it. I multi-task until the cows come home, and then for a few more hours after that and it still seems like there is more to do than hours in the day. If this sounds a little, or a lot, like you then I encourage you to read on! And if you are the next Martha Stewart, I'd love to hear your tips and tricks as well!
- Touch everything you pick up once and then do something with it. The "old" me used to be so indecisive about what to do with things that they'd end up exactly where they started. Now I make a point to either put away, trash/recycle, or donate everything I touch. If it's broken, I will fix it. If I can't fix it, off it goes. I find I have enough projects on my to-do list that if something isn't very valuable or sentimental it is often easier to just say goodbye.
- Find a good laundry detergent that works for you and works well. I recently tried Purex with Oxi Zout Stain Removers and loved how well it worked especially on my sons clothing. He plays hard and loves to get dirty at the playground and I too often have a problem getting out stains. Washing laundry 2-3 times trying to get out a stain is time consuming as well as a waste of energy. I have also used Purex with Oxi to pretreat as soon as a stain sets and then throwing it in the wash later. So far it's been successful and our whole family's clothes are coming out with colorful colors and white whites. Success!
- Bring your kids into the mix with chores or as helpers. There were too many afternoons my kids sat watching cartoons while I ran around the house cleaning or putting away their toys. Then I realized that my kids were often praised by their teachers for being such good helpers yet at home I was the maid and the butler. Now my daughter helps with the dishwasher on a daily basis (she is in kindergarten) as well as helps put away her toys, and her younger brother helps with the laundry loading and making up his room. Days that they are spent, I give them a pass to just hang out but on other days we make it fun and it's an activity we do together.
- Find a cleaning comrade or one that gives you inspiration. Birds of a feather flock together. This is true in so many ways and this fall I found out that cleaning is one of them. Find a friend with a love of vacuuming or who has a penchant for being the Queen of Organization. Her habits and sense of motivation will rub off on you. I know this may sound a little silly, but it is true. The next time you go to a friends house and love how she keeps her kitchen, ask her for a few tips. I'm sure she will be both flattered and happy to share some advice!
- Add a good degreaser to your cleaning arsenal. While I often try to use environmentally conscious products or multi-purpose every day cleaners, for messy kitchens and play areas you need a good degreaser. I have found that regular household cleaners either don't do the trick or just take too long to actually get all the gunk off! This holiday season I started using Greased Lightning Multi-Purpose. It is both a cleaner and a degreaser and worked great on both my splattered kitchen range and my kids shoes after they get into all kinds of mysterious messes. The scent of spring rain isn't as harsh as most cleaners and I found it left my home smelling fresh as well as looking sparkling. Anytime I can use a product and it cuts down on my time cleaning, I'm all for it!
- Invite your mother over. To ask her clean? Not quite. But if your mom is anything like mine, she will be more than happy to offer up a critique. If you aren't sure if you need to declutter or maybe purchase new drapes, ask your mom. While there have been a few times I've frowned upon my own mothers unsolicited opinion, I have to admit she's always been right.
The tips above will hopefully make your experience in your home a little easier and I will publish a spring cleaning tip list in a few months. Overall, I've found I'm more relaxed in a clean house and my kids playtime is easier when we know where everything is. And after they go to bed, there's nothing more relaxing than enjoying a glass of wine without having to step on Legos and Barbie accessories.