I know you’ve felt it – that dread that hits you when you’re husband is about to get home, and the house isn’t clean. Again. You’ve been chasing after the kids, trying to keep up with the messes but it’s a losing battle.
As soon as you put away the breakfast dishes, you look over and one kid has dumped toys all over the living room for the millionth time. And before you can even think of having him help you put them away (but really, why bother?), your one year old just decided to wear her breakfast and also share with the floor. It never ends.
Add laundry, chores, school, activities, and all the other stuff you’re supposed to take care of by yourself and you’ve got an overwhelming amount of responsibility on your plate. And I can hear your teeth grinding from here as you try not to think about your husband sleeping uninterrupted in a dark hotel room somewhere. So when he gets home and starts nitpicking your housekeeping skills instead of thanking you for keeping everyone alive, it can definitely sting.
We’ve all heard some version of these comments before:
“Well, what have you been doing while I was gone?”
(Oh, the usual. Sitting around bored watching the kids feed themselves and get themselves dressed. Then I laid on the couch for a couple hours while I watched them play nicely together and then pick up their toys without being asked. Oh, and then our 5 year old made us all dinner and then the kids gave themselves a bath! Crazy huh?! What have I been doing? They don’t even need me!)
“Don’t you like having a clean house?”
(No. I like living in filth, actually. It’s always been my dream.)
“I don’t know why it’s so hard to keep it clean.”
(You also don’t know where we keep the toaster. Or where the scissors are. There are lots of things you don’t know – because you aren’t here. Add it to the list, buddy.)
“This place is a disaster.”
(Your face is a disaster.)
Those may or may not have been thoughts that have gone through my mind. Those little
jabs comments can be enough to make you want to scream, and it’s hard to keep your composure when you’re trying very hard to resist the urge to set the house on fire.
I’ve never been a fan of cleaning. I would honestly rather sit through a Justin Bieber concert (please no), or give up wine for a week (oh God), or hell, give birth again (sweet mother of pain stop the insanity) – than have to clean my house. What’s ironic is that I’m actually quite good at cleaning. But that doesn’t mean that I like it.
I go through the 5 stages of grief when I have to clean:
Denial – It’s not that bad… I mean, it’s not like we’re hoarders. Now those people have a problem. Look, I can still see some floor! Over there… under the couch.
Anger – Why am I the only one who cleans around here?! Oh, that’s right, because apparently I’m the only one who lives here! IT NEVER ENDS!! Why am I cleaning when it’s just going to be a mess again tomorrow?! Who am I kidding – in 5 minutes?! WHYYYYYYYY?!?!?! I HATE THIS HOUSE. I HATE MY LIFE. I HATE EVERYTHING. I SHOULD HAVE MARRIED A DOCTOR.
Bargaining – Ok, if I get the living room cleaned I’ll let myself have a glass of wine and watch one episode of my favorite show after I get the kids to bed. Then I’ll clean the rest of the house… Holy crap it’s 11 pm and I’m drunk and accidentally watched 3 hours – here, let me pick up some of these couch pillows.
Depression – Why can’t I like cleaning? I am the worst wife/mom ever. He’s going to leave me. He’s going to leave me for a younger woman who actually enjoys this shit. I hate her. That cleaning whore. Why am I so bad at this? I need more wine.
Acceptance – Ok here we go. I can do this. I will not be a bitter old hag wife. See? This isn’t too bad. Oh my God I will never get this time back. I could be doing so many other things right now. Don’t think about that. Let’s just get this done. Oh wow, that wasn’t too bad actually. Hey, look at that! One room down, 8 to – what the hell was that noise? Wait, why have the kids been so quiet?!?!
And so the cycle goes. If you’re like me, you do clean while your husband is gone, it’s just hard to get it to stay that way. Kids can undo a clean house in 2.4 seconds, give them a day alone and it’ll look like a natural disaster hit.
So, you have a couple options (yes, aside from telling your husband to go to hell and/or cleaning it himself since it’s so easy.)
The first is to hire a housecleaner. I realize this is not an option for most. Especially if you’re a pilot wife. I hope you didn’t just choke on your drink. Sorry about that.
Another, cheaper option is to hire a mother’s helper. Have a neighbor kid or a babysitter come over for a few hours so you can finally get some things done in peace. And if you decide to take a nap instead, no judgment.
The last option is to fake it ‘til you make it. Do it yourself, so to speak. But who has the time? How do you make it look clean when it isn’t? I’m going to spill all my secrets, friends. Because you deserve to spend more time relaxing and less time stressing. And your husband will be amazed at how you’ve managed to do it.
Tip 1: Declutter
Get rid of crap. All of it. All the piles of paper, the junk that sits around collecting dust, and toys that aren’t getting played with? In the trash. Take a giant plastic bag and go through your house, putting in whatever you see that needs to go. Stop hanging on to stuff you don’t need. This cleans off your counter space, floor space, all kinds of space! Don’t let the kids wailing about their toys getting thrown away stop you. You’re in the zone, and this is serious business. Better yet, do it while they’re sleeping. They’ll never miss those horrid, noisy toys your in-laws gave them anyway. I’m kidding. Sort of.
Tip 2: Everything in its place
Everything needs to have a place. End of story. When everything has somewhere to go, it makes your life so much easier. Teach your kids where everything goes, and there will be no excuse for not putting things away. You take it out, you put it back. Doesn’t get any simpler than that. And yes – make the kids help you clean!! Even my one year old helps me sweep the floor. And yes, I count eating Cheerios off the floor sweeping.
Tip 3: Hide it
Buy decorative storage. This is probably the best tip I can give you. Baskets and bins are your new best friends. You can throw all kinds of stuff into bins and it looks organized, even if it’s chaos.
I got this unit at IKEA and made the top 2 bins for my son’s toys and the bottom 2 for my daughter’s toys. Takes me 5 minutes every night for us to throw them all in there and put them away.
See all the crap I can hide? It only looks clean. But that’s all that matters.
Our nicely organized entertainment center…
Hold up, what?! That’s right, I just throw movies in the cabinets and no one knows. It’ll get organized someday. Not today though. Not today…
Oh look at this clean little corner…
Nope, more toys!!
But what about over here?
I keep all of our remotes (omg, how do we have so many?!) in that table drawer, and all of the chargers and cords we have (for iPads, phones, etc.) in that bottom bin. So easy!
Tip 4: Keep your supplies handy
It’s not easy to clean when your cleaning supplies are not within reach. I keep a small vacuum ($20!! Here on Amazon) and a Swiffer WetJet out in the kitchen at all times. When messes happen I can clean them in 2 minutes or less. Does it replace actually mopping the floor? Of course not. But when I do mop eventually, it’s a million times easier. The best part is I can put these away in 5 seconds if I need to. Cleaning is way less of a hassle when you help yourself out. Think to yourself, what would make cleaning easier for me? And then do it!
I made this cabinet a space for games and turned the pullout basket thing into a diaper changing station that hides away so I don’t need to have it out. The nursery is upstairs and there’s no way I’m going upstairs every time I need to change a diaper. Boom. Problem solved.
I also keep a small pop-up hamper in the living room (right next to the kitchen) for dirty clothes, dirty bibs, or dirty towels. It’s amazing how often that thing gets used. Then I just drop it off into the laundry room in one trip!
I also don’t keep all my cleaning supplies in one place. Why would I do that when my rooms are all completely spread out? I have a toilet brush and some cleaner in each of our 3 bathrooms. I also keep a small vacuum upstairs as well as downstairs because it’s super annoying to carry stuff up and down the stairs, and I am lazy if you haven’t noticed. Necessity is the mother of invention right?
Keep everything handy and you will thank me later.
Tip 5: Vacuum everything. EVERYTHING.
My Dyson vacuum is probably the best purchase for cleaning I have ever made. Why? Because the attachments are little rescuers of sanity. Do you know what I can vacuum up with this thing? Whole pieces of cereal. Entire Cheez-Its, broken or intact. Tiny shreds of paper and ripped up toilet paper strewn all over the room. See where I’m going with this? And dust. Oh, sweet heaven I can dust with my vacuum. It’s amazing. I can retrieve toys from under the couch, clean a high chair, make couch cushions look new again, and dust a whole room with ease. I strongly recommend getting a vacuum with attachments. It has cut my cleaning time in half, if not more.
Well, there you have it. My best tips for faking a clean house, or at least making cleaning a little bit easier. Enjoy your free time!
The Flight Wife
Have any tips of your own? I’d love to hear them! Comment below and let me know what you think. 🙂