Time management

I am always looking for ways to cut corners around the house. Even though I’m trying to get better at housekeeping, I’m still inherently disinterested in anything to do with cleaning or organizing. I am always on the lookout for the domestic equivalent of a “get rich quick” scheme, so when I came across this article the other day, I immediately jumped all over it. “Clean Your House in Less Than an Hour,” it says, and then helpfully breaks down how to tackle each room in the most time efficient way.

After reading the article, the first thought I had was “Obviously this writer doesn’t have kids.”

NOTHING can be done efficiently with kids in the house. Literally, nothing. At least, not with small kids in the house. Once you have older kids, so I’m told, they can entertain themselves or each other for more than 5 minutes at a time, but that’s not what I’ve got. With a 3.5 year-old and a crawling baby who is into everything together, I get maybe 2-3 minutes at a time to focus on any one task — and when I am I focusing on only one task at a time? — so I already know that if I follow this plan, I’d fail miserably.

So for any other moms out there thinking of trying to accomplish a clean house in 60 minutes or less, let me tell you how it really goes down. My comments will be italicized.

Clean Your House in Less Than an Hour Maybe a Day

Zone 1: Bedrooms
Approximate time predicted: 10 minutes per bedroom

Do a clean sweep. Strip dirty linens and toss in the hamper. Stop oldest child from running off with all your pillows to make a fort. Permit him to jump on bed, but quietly, because the baby is sleeping. Stash unnecessary items clogging your dresser or nightstand in nearby drawers or closets. Gather all dinosaurs, Underoos, firetrucks and pop-up books and put them on the bed, where they will stay until you put sheets back on the bed, and then they will return to the dresser/floor/nightstand/under the bed. Empty the wastebasket. Think “hotel”-you want spartan surfaces to help the room look tidier. I disagree. Spartan surfaces promote climbing and more crap-piling. Just keep your own stuff out rather than replace it with kid stuff.

Make the bed. Take a tip from hotel maids: Rather than trying to tuck sheets under the end of the mattress, lift up each corner of the mattress with one hand and tuck with the other. It’s faster. Put fitted sheet down. Remove child. Put flat sheet down. Child immediately crawls under it and “hides.” You have to find him, then join him in the tent, after you find the flashlight and his stuffed dog to go camping. While scavenging the house, the baby wakes up. Abandon all further chores while baby is changed and played with for a few minutes.

Zone 2: Bathroom

Approximate time predicted: 9 minutes

Do your prep work. Spritz the sink, vanity, shower and tub with your all-purpose spray and let sit. Before spritzing, remove bath toys, Thomas toothbrush, bubble bath bottle and bath seat from tub and sink. Place in hallway. 

Tackle the toilet. Sprinkle baking soda into the bowl, give it a thorough scrub with the toilet brush, then flush. Next, spray a microfiber cloth with all-purpose spray and wipe down the outside of the toilet and tank. Ok, obviously this author doesn’t have sons. I don’t “sprinkle baking soda” or “wipe” the outside of the porcelain throne. I hose that bad boy down with the strongest chemical concoction I can legally buy. I also scrub down the 3-foot radius surrounding the toilet, since it is apparently just a “suggestion” for the 4 and under crowd. Cleaning the toilet alone should take 9 minutes.

Clean the mirror. Spray on glass cleaner and, starting in the top corner, wipe in a circular motion. Don’t do this. Leave the streaks and dust, they cover the dark circles and bed head. +1 minute.

Go back to the sink/tub. Use the toothbrush to quickly scrub hard-to-reach spots around the fixtures.Then, working back-to-front, start in one corner and move horizontally, wiping the counter, vanity, fixtures and handles. By this point in time, just grab a wet washcloth and wipe down what you can because it’s lunch time. Do the same to the shower and tub. Any remaining cleaner will be splashed away during the cannonballs that will take place in the evening’s bath.

Mop the floor. Using a water-dampened microfiber mop, quickly mop your way out of the room, beginning in a far corner and ending at the doorway. Again, just focus on the toilet area. The rest gets flooded nightly during the aforementioned bath time.

2-hour time lapse now takes place while you prepare lunches, change diapers, attempt to eat something yourself, find a desired TV show for oldest, nurse a baby, put baby down for nap time and chug a cup of coffee.

Zone 3: Kitchen
Approximate time predicted: 12 minutes This one makes me laugh the hardest.

Declutter. Spend a minute or two removing any clutter from countertops-put items back in the cabinets, stash papers in a drawer. The emptier your counters, the cleaner your kitchen looks. Collect markers, Play-Doh containers, books, placemats, bibs, Hot Wheels and drawn-on grocery lists, and look around for a place to stash them. Throw Pile them neatly on the kitchen table.

Wipe down appliances. Swipe the fridge, dishwasher and stove with a damp cloth. Use something stronger than just water to get the slobber and Goldfish-encrusted fingerprints off the entire kitchen. I’m thinking fire would work best.

Tackle the floor. Starting in a far corner, sweep your way out. Then give the floor a fast once-over with a water-dampened microfiber mop, again working your way out. This is the clincher. First of all, if you have a crawling baby who eats finger foods AND a white cat like I do, you will sweep constantly. It’s all I do, not that you can tell. Second, once you have swept (for the third time that day), you are not ready to mop. You are ready to chisel. Cheerios, Puffs, Mum-Mums and Yogurt Melts, once they have been in a baby’s mouth, turn into a form of adhesive that rivals Superglue. You think you get them all when you sweep after every single meal, but you don’t. There’s always a few that get away, and now you have your work cut out for you. And really? Only mopping with water? No. Water won’t touch the grime that oozes from the skin of children. Boiling hot bleach is a good start.

Zone 4: Living Room
Approximate time predicted: 15 minutes

 Clear the clutter. Quickly scan the room to see what’s out of place. Stash scattered items like remotes and DVDs in drawers; neatly stack magazines on the coffee table. Wrong. See what’s out of place? Probably everything is out of place, because while you’ve been cleaning, your kid or kids have been unsupervised. DVDs are either locked away or are under the entertainment center. The remote hasn’t been seen for hours. Magazines don’t go near kids unless you want them shredded. Just grab whatever toys you can in one load and dump them in a corner or bin. 

Dust. Start in one corner of the room, and follow the same how-tos as in the bedrooms, working top-to-bottom and back-to-front so that the dust falls onto the floor. And if you have blinds, swipe them with the long-armed duster. Don’t even bother.

Make glass gleam. To clean glass surfaces, spray a microfiber cloth with your glass cleaner and wipe in wide circular motions, working from one back corner to the front. Now this is one chore that kids can help with. I give Declan a bottle of vinegar and a paper towel and let him go to town. Granted, he only cleans one square foot of the window, but just check it off the list, the baby is waking up.

Vacuum. Speed-vacuum yourself out of the room, starting in the farthest corner. Wait for baby to wake up to do this because not only is it a loud tool, the screaming that will commence because your 3 year old is “scared” or is missing his show because he can’t hear it could wake the dead. Stop 3 times to hear what it is he’s trying to tell you. Finally, give up.

And now your house is clean! It only took 8 hours, if you are lucky, and you can repeat the process in 3 days. Now pour yourself a drink, you deserve it, because the house will be trashed by bedtime.




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5 responses to “Time management

  1. rachel

    amen sister! This is so timely for me since tonight my husband and I decided to fight because I washed the dishes and didn’t get the counters wiped down. (in his defense they were filthy but I’m still mad) I threw the dishes in the dishwasher and then moved on to take care of the laundry so the bed would be clear so I could put the cranky boys to bed before finishing the kitchen. Now I know how to get the whole house clean in 8 hrs, not counting of course what the boys dirty/pee on/cover with food and/or toys behind the cleaning.

  2. April Sikes

    LOL! I read this article a while ago, too! It’s pretty ridiculous. I love the part about the mirror! And, definitely, the toilet and surrounding area get the most of my attention in the bathroom. Do people actually clean their blinds?

  3. Christi Wampler

    Rachel, tell your husband I said to suck it. Counters can wait, bedtime cannot. EVER.

    April, cleaning the blinds has literally never crossed my mind. Not once.

  4. dz

    Um wow. Were you in my house today? Not gonna lie, I found your blog while the kids and I were playing outside (and trying to convince them to go play “over there”) while I typed “why won’t my kids leave me alone” into Google in despair. I don’t know if you still see your comments from this site but I have to say I am so glad I’m not the only Mom finds being a housewife exhausting! Although your blog is obviously humorous, I got kinda teary-eyed finding someone who is not the Etsy craft making, dinner is served, look my hair and makeup is done Mama. I LOVE being home with my kids, don’t get me wrong…but with a 4 yr old, 2 yr old and 8 mo old, the cooking, laundry, organizing, cleaning and me-time is not happening. Thanks for a candid blog that makes me feel like I’m not the only underachieving housewife out there!

  5. DZ, I LOVE that you found my site that way!!! That is AWESOME. You are far from underachieving. You are focusing on your kids, not your image. That’s the important thing. Please join me on my FB (Domestic Disturbia) and keep reading!

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