There is one new habit that we’ve been able to form since moving to our new home, and I have been amazed at how much happiness is brought me.
Let me start by explaining – we didn’t really clean at our old house. That probably sounds ridiculous to people who keep a clean and tidy household, but we really did the bare minimum. We’d wash our dishes – by hand, no dishwasher – eventually. When the floor started to drive Tamara crazy, she’d sweep it. When we knew we were having visitors, we’d deep clean the bathroom. But there was no regular cleaning schedule.
You’d think I’d be too embarrassed to admit this publicly, but I’m not. I have never been a neat and tidy person, and I have a pretty high tolerance for dirt, mud, and general disarray. Plus, at our last house, we were living on a farm, in an extremely old farmhouse that never gleamed no matter how much you cleaned. Keeping the house clean felt impossible. There was new mud and dirt coming in every day, and we had little time to do all the things we wanted and needed to do. I often sacrificed cleaning time for writing time, and I felt good about that.
Now that we’re in a new house and changing up our lifestyle, I feel a little differently about keeping things clean. First and foremost, I want to teach my kids good cleaning habits, and the best way is to teach them is to show them the different tasks that have to be done to keep a household clean and tidy. Secondly, I think I’ve been experiencing a level of low-grade stress due to having a cluttered and disorganized house. I really want to live a Marie Kondo-esque kind of life; I want to know exactly where everything is, because everything has a specific home in the house, and I don’t want to have or store a whole bunch of crap I don’t need. And I think it’s way easier to clean when the clutter is under control.
That said – it’s been hard, and we don’t have a system for cleaning yet. We’re still pretty busy, so I’ve just been quickly spot cleaning things like the bathroom sink or the toilet when I think of it. Things will slow down next month, and we’ll be able to get into a better routine then.
But for the moment, the habit that we have been maintaining successfully is cleaning up the kitchen after dinner. And it had made me SO happy.
It’s so simple. One of us cooks dinner – usually Tamara – and the other parent plays with the boys while that’s happening. We eat together as a family. Then, after dinner, one of us plays with the boys and the other parent cleans the kitchen. Sometimes we get the boys to ‘help’; Edgar does a decent job of wiping down the table and bringing dishes to the sink. Jonas likes to pretend he’s mopping. And when we’re done, there are dishes in the dishwasher, a clean kitchen table, clean floors, and leftovers put away.
I love it. The situation never gets so overwhelming that we’re going to have to spend an hour getting things clean, and I can enjoy my evenings and my mornings without staring at things in the kitchen thinking, I should really go clean that up.
ARE ALL OF THE HOUSEHOLD CHORES GOING TO BE AS SIMPLE AS THIS? I really, really hope so. I want to continue to prioritize writing, reading, and self-care, and I know cleaning and household maintenance take time. I’m okay with that.
JUST NOT TOO MUCH TIME. I’ve got stuff to do.