A lot of moms get really stressed out over cleaning. I used to be one of them, especially when it seems like I’m spending so much time cleaning and things never stays clean for more than half a day and I get all frustrated and start yelling at everyone a lot more, which is all so unnecessary. Until I discovered a formula to determine what needs to be cleaned up immediately and what doesn’t. Now my house is in a constant state of disarray but the important thing is that I feel SO much better.
M (How bad is the mess) x B (How much does it bother you) / H (How long it is likely to stay clean) = C (Should I clean?)
Let me illustrate with examples to make it clearer.
#1: Kid’s Room = Don’t Clean
I call this the war zone because epic battles go on in here. At any given point in the day, someone will be emptying boxes of toys into a massive heap on the floor and then someone else will observe the destruction, throw her head back in maniacal laughter, and proceed to fling toys everywhere. Because it’s so fun to watch mommy grab her head and look horrified.
I used to categorize their toys into neat little boxes. One for vehicles, one for play cooking, one for animals, one for pirates and one for weird items (broken doll limbs, that kind of thing) that don’t fit anywhere else. I had a whole complicated organizational system going on that made the Dewey Decimal System look like child’s play. But the moment it’s all neatly packed up, they would drag out all the boxes and dump them onto the floor all over again in less than a second.
With the formula, I’ve learnt to leave it the hell alone. That way, I didn’t have to spend hours packing up or nagging at them to pack up only for it to be messed up again. WIN.
#2: Dishes, Laundry, Spills = Clean
No brainer. It’s relatively easy to clean and it stays clean for a decent amount of time. I mean, only slobs leave dishes piled up in the sink for weeks and I’m no slob. Only a cleaning pragmatist. There’s a difference.
#3: Living room = Debatable
I have clearly demarcated territory in my house. The kids know that toys are meant to be played with in the room but the occasional toy encroaches into my space and I put it right back where it belongs, i.e., the war zone. Other times, I leave it until the end of the day when I do my evening clean up of the house.
Cleaning is like money – there’s never enough. Everything could always be cleaner if it bothers you enough to get off your ass and put on those scrubbing gloves. Or if you have someone to do it for you then just flog them every now and then to give them some added motivation. But if you find yourself getting all high strung over cleaning, I suggest you try the formula and spend that cleaning time having a cup of coffee.