How I Keep my House Clean… At Least Part of It

I recently read a blog post  at my friend Stacy’s blog that really resonated with me. It was called “Maintaining Your Home in the Whirlwind”, and I’m seriously not kidding when I say I thought she was describing my house! Here’s a quote:

My house certainly isn’t perfect. Visitors often find they have to shovel a path to the couch. (Hey, it’s not my fault nobody ever visits after the chores are done.) However, we do have clean clothes to wear, the dishes are ready when the meals are, and after about 3:00 in the afternoon, you can usually see the floor. Life is better in a clean house, but how do we get things in order with all these little mess-makers running around?

I especially love that part about how everybody visits before the chores are done! Just in case you ever want to visit me, you should know that at 10:00 in the morning, I’m still running around the house in a bathrobe (or junk clothes, the modern wife’s equivalent to the housedress) sporting some awesome bedhead.Unfortunately, that seems to be the most popular time for maintenance men, repair guys, UPS deliverers and the like to show up unannounced.

And although I’ve done a million things by 10:00 in the morning – made breakfast, changed children’s clothes, brushed teeth, settled about a thousand sibling squabbles, checked FB and email, read my Bible, taught my son a little preschool, and who knows what else – it looks like I’ve been relaxing all morning eating bonbons and watching the dust bunnies hop.

It’s kind of embarrassing, to tell you the truth.

So this past week, I decided to do something about it. I still do my chores for the day after lunch rather than first thing in the morning, because that just seems to work the best with my schedule, but I decided that I should at least keep one room in the house clean all. day. long. That way, I wouldn’t feel like a total failure of a housewife when those unexpected visitors dropped by, because at least they could see my house wasn’t a complete mess.

I settled on the dining room. I would love to keep the living room clean all day long, because that’s the first room people see when they come into our apartment, but that’s simply not practical. One of the first things The Boys do when they wake up in the morning is drag their race track rugs and Cars 2 cars out to the living room and proceed to play with them there for a large part of the day. I would rather them play where I can see them – and mediate their frequent tussles – then leave them alone in their room, because trust me, that never turns out well. So I can’t keep the living room clean without boring them to tears.

I’d love for the kitchen to be clean all day, but once again, the issue is that it’s constantly being used. When you make everything from scratch, you generate a lot of mess and a lot of dirty dishes. The dishwasher’s always being run, and I’m constantly wiping counters and the like, but the fact of the matter is that for most of the day… something’s going on in the kitchen and it ain’t cleaning!

So I picked the dining room (I had already mastered keeping the hall bathroom clean, in case you’re wondering.). Here’s the thing: three times a day, two small boys run into the dining room, climb up on the chairs and proceed to fling food everywhere with merry abandon. The older one is better than the younger one, and doesn’t make quite as much of a mess… but that’s not saying much. Plus, the dining room is where I do my blogging and all household organizational tasks (budgeting and the like). My laptop sits on the dining room table whenever we’re not eating, and so does my household binder and other tools. Suffice it to say, the dining room generates a lot of mess. 

BUT it’s not being used in a messy way all day long. Only 3 times a day. The rest of the time, I’m just using my computer, and not really generating too much of a mess.So my goal this past week was to keep the dining room clean and sparkling between meals. Toys were outlawed (and cleaned up promptly if they trespassed), and clean-up commenced promptly after every meal. The hand-vac was brought out with much more regularity (why does more food always end up on the floor than in their tummies?!) and the tables and chairs were wiped down with alarming frequency.

The result? A place to rest my eyes. In the hub-bub and, yes, whirlwind, of life around here, at least I can glance into the dining room throughout the day and see peace and cleanliness. The curtains open to a sunshiny view make the perfect backdrop for my pretty little centerpiece made with old bottles and silk flowers, centered on a neat table with four chairs nicely tucked around it.

And honestly, it doesn’t take that much time to go through the room 3 times a day and eliminate all the mess. Probably 5 minutes at the most. Those 5 minutes are the best time investment I make all day! OK, well maybe the time I spend giving hugs and settling squabbles is even better spent. But those 5 minutes bring a peace and relaxation to our home without stressing me out, and that is totally worth it. 

And that’s the whole thing: while I regularly do all the normal housekeeping things like scrubbing floors, vacuuming carpet, cleaning bathrooms, and wiping down walls, I don’t stress out about the toys on the floor all day long, or the growing pile of dishes in the sink (Hey, I’ll get to them when the dishwasher finishes its current cycle!). Stressing out about an immaculate house is totally not worth it for me. It’s more important to me to make all the food from scratch and let the boys play their little hearts out than it is to have a constantly clean house.

But that little oasis in the dining room? Totally worth it. 

What spot in your house do you (or could you) keep clean no matter what?