Friday, October 1, 2010

balance, pt. 5: cleaning house

I said in my first post about life balance that I hate cutting from my to-do list, because I love everything I do. That's not 100% accurate. There is one thing that I really don't enjoy at all: cleaning the house.

I'm not a hyper-clean person under the best of conditions, and long work hours and two small kids are not the best of conditions. Still, I have some standards, low as they are. I know the clean-as-you-go method is the best, but I've never managed to pull that off. Dr. Mr. Palimpsest and I tried a designated a clean-up day (Saturday morning), but too often something else interfered and we were left with a filthy house.

My current system is working fairly well, within limits. I designate the cleaning of certain rooms to particular parts of my daily routine. For example, while I'm helping Bunny to brush her teeth and change into pajamas, I do a quick pick-up of the bathroom, her bedroom, and the playroom (which is conveniently located in-between). Similarly, when I feed our two cats (Orangey and The Brain), I also pick up the mud room and take out the compost (both located near the cat box.) Theoretically, I truly clean these rooms on the weekends (mop, vacuum, scrub, etc.), but that doesn't happen as often as it should.

This system works well for every room except the kitchen, which is the room that gets the dirtiest, and therefore just takes too long to clean. It can't be delegated to a quick pick-up in the middle of some other daily task. Once Little Boo is old enough to amuse himself, I'm sure it will be easier to find the time. Until then, does anyone have suggestions for keeping the kitchen clean?


  1. I feel your pain. After having my second child, I realized I could just barely keep up with tidying and surface cleaning in the kitchen and bathrooms, but I literally could not imagine the circumstances under which I'd ever have time to mop the entire house at once again. (Both adults at our house work full time.) We've hired someone to clean the house once every eight weeks. She moves the furniture and cleans underneath it. She even dusts the blinds. Best. Decision. Ever.

  2. Uh, no suggestions. Our kitchen is small and becomes unusable unless you wash and put away everything on the counters and sink. I suppose that is our system, although it is tempting to find ways around it (take-out). When O. trashes something, I clean it and everything around it really well. (A kitchen floor spill may translate into me scrubbing the entire floor with a cloth and soapy water, and then noticing the lower cabinets are filthy so I scrub those down.) That lets me feel better for a moment but there's a certain amount of house that is never touched. Not to mention that he may head somewhere else to threaten something else while I am doing this.

  3. Anonymous #1 - do you find that once every couple of months is frequent enough to keep the filth demons at bay? I've been seriously, seriously considering hiring outside help, especially now that the baby is eating solids. Or, more accurately, now that the baby is flinging food in all directions, and occasionally hitting his mouth. I'm sure I couldn't afford someone every week or even every two weeks, but I wasn't sure if having someone in less frequently than that would be worth while. I'll have to look into it!

  4. Anonymous 1 here: Every other month is probably the bare minimum that would work for us (with 2 little kids and a dog). It makes a huge difference though, especially for things like wiping down baseboards and kitchen cabinet fronts that I never seemed to get past the spot-cleaning stage on until they were really filthy (and hence a huge time-consuming job to clean). Things get slightly grubby by week 6 or 7, but nothing like they were before. It's easier to keep up if we're working from a clean start.

  5. With what kind of filth are you plagued in the kitchen? Grease on the walls and cabinets? Crevices in sink and floor corners that never get cleaned? Seems like once every two months would be enough to keep that kind of stuff at bay.

  6. Hey, the blogger at has another site

    and a related upcoming book promising “a tidy and tranquil home in just minutes a day.” --MB