Mommy Myth: “If I were a stay-at-home mom, my house would be cleaner.”
I totally bought into this myth while I was a mom working outside of the home. When we decided that I would stay at home for a while after our second little one was born, I thought, “Awesome! My house will be spotless!”
My two toddlers pretty much need me every moment I am home with them. They are busy and are still too small to do things like effectively clean up a spill or retrieve a princess that has fallen behind the couch. My job is to take care of them, and that is a very full-time job.
But I should be able to get things done at naptime, right? Well, at naptime, I take a breath, eat the lunch that I missed because I was washing peanut butter out of the dog’s fur, call the pediatrician to reschedule a check-up that would fall on a day we are going out of town, text my hubby to see if he can pick up sour cream on his way home from work, and then just as I get ready to be productive and clean…the little guy is awake and ready to play.
And trying to clean up one room while they’re playing in another is futile too. My daughter can destroy two rooms by the time I can clean up one. She’s impressive like that.
Comparing when I was a work-out-of-the-house mom, when I was a stay-at-home mom, and now when I’m a work-at-home mom (I’m a freelance writer.), I would have to say that my house was cleanest when I was working out of the home. This is because of the simple fact that we weren’t at home to mess it up all day. I mean it wasn’t immaculate by any means. When I got home from work, I just wanted to spend some time with my kids, not scrub floors. But it was the cleanest.
I have, however, come up with some tricks for when I’m home and trying to keep an adequately clean house.
1. Put it into the daily schedule.
Every morning, the whole family knows that it’s vacuuming time. My little guy is crawling now and everything goes in his mouth. So I have a daily mission to rid the house of dust bunnies comprised of dog hair and fluff from whatever well-loved stuffed animal sprung a leak the previous day. If I don’t get it done in the morning, things may get crazy (don’t they always?) and I’ll forget. I know that some people prefer to do this type of thing right after the kids go to bed. Whatever works for you. Consistency is the key.
2. Set a timer.
Looking at a sea of Little People, Legos, and books on the floor could send any mom heading for the hills. If I’m really unmotivated (okay, so that’s most of the time), I set a timer for 10 minutes. I get done what I can and I give myself the option leave the rest. Sometimes I do and sometimes I find my motivation. But either way, I feel like I’ve made progress.
3. Get your kids to help.
Do you know the “Clean Up” song? Apparently anyone who sings it is the Pied Piper of cleaning toddlers. Or so I learned at my daughter’s playschool. It totally works for us. If I keep singing it, she’ll keep helping to pick up. Bribery also works. But you didn’t hear it from me.
4. Accept that your house is as clean as it’s going to get.
Every stay-at-home mom that I know has the same complex: “Since I’m staying at home, my house should be clean, and I should be embarrassed when someone comes over and it isn’t.” It seems like we’re all in the same boat, so can we just agree to ignore the clutter when we go to visit other moms? If you ignore the mail piled on the front table when you come to my home, I’ll ignore the fingerprints on your windows when I visit your home. Deal? I’d rather spend a little less time dusting and a little more time playing dinosaurs with my kids. In fact, I think we all prefer that.
What tips do you have to keep a cleaner home? Is your house cleaner when you stay at home or when you work?
**Check out Southern Mess Mom‘s hilarious take on keeping the house clean while being a SAHM here!