Right after my daughter’s birth, I thought I never had enough time to get things done. I had a new baby, I’d just returned to work and I was adjusting to a lot of “firsts.” While I enjoyed my precious, new little one and devoted as much time as I possibly could to my career, laundry stacked up, dishes went unwashed, tumbleweeds of dog hair and dust rolled lazily across the kitchen floor and a thin layer of dust coated nearly every surface in my house.
My husband helped, sure, but his standard of “clean” doesn’t quite match up with mine. OK, it falls far short, actually. When it comes to keeping the house tidy, I’ll accept nothing less than spotlessly pristine. My husband is perfectly fine with “good enough.”
However, I was forced to relax my standards when I became a mom because I simply did not have any time to spend on household chores — or so I thought. Before Reese joined our family in 2012, I’d regularly devote an entire day to cleaning. For eight to 10 straight hours on a Saturday or Sunday, I’d scrub, scour, launder, polish, wipe, dust and vacuum. It was nice to tackle it all in one fell swoop.
After my daughter was born, though, spending an extended chunk of time in “cleaning mode” was just out of the question. Even if my tiny, demanding — and adorable — infant had allowed me to immerse myself in whole-house sterilization for a full day, I wouldn’t have wanted to. I enjoy spending time with and caring for her, and when not at work, I want to give Reese every second I have. That means my house is dirty. Or does it?
It finally dawned on me that not having hours on end to dedicate to the purification process didn’t mean I couldn’t spot clean when I had a few spare seconds. I’d never done it that way before, but it became clear that if I didn’t want my family living in a pigsty, I’d have to adapt new methods. Now, I’m a pro at it.
I break up chores that I previously never thought could be broken up. At night, when my family sits down to dinner, I eat pretty quickly. When I’m finished, I hop up and start packing my daughter’s lunch for the following school day. She and my husband linger at the table, talking, laughing and grazing while I bustle around behind them. I can usually get her fruits and veggies washed, chopped and bagged before Reese is finished with her evening meal. So, at least I’ve got lunch halfway packed. After her bath, I plop my little girl on the couch with a cup of milk and a few picture books or a toy, and I resume my food-preparation efforts. I add a protein, a grain and a dairy and tada — lunch is packed!
And laundry is no match for my crafty time-management skills. Pop a load in the washer in the morning. Transfer it to the dryer after work. Fold it after dinner. Put it away once the kiddo is in bed. Who says it has to be done all at once? Tackling a load every other day eliminates the need for one full laundry day.
Dishes piling up in the sink? Not in my house. I’ll start the dishwasher right before bed at night, empty it the next morning and reload it that evening following dinner. It’s a stretched-out three-step process, but it gets done.
Some days, I have time to dust but not vacuum. Maybe I’ve got five minutes to wipe down the kitchen counters and cabinet doors, but the floor mopping has to wait. I’ve been known to skip blow-drying my hair on weekends so I can quickly scrub the shower and bathroom sink, but toilet-cleaning … well, that less-than-pleasant task usually falls to my husband. It’s not that I can’t find time to do it. It’s just plain old gross, and I’d rather avoid it. I’m OK with the job he does being “good enough” in that instance. As long as he’s the one who does it.