Clean or tidy. When you have kids you can have one, but not both.
It has been said that attempting to clean with children in the house is like trying to brush your teeth while eating Oreos; completely pointless. Having a 4 and 2-year-old myself, I can attest to the accuracy of this statement.
Before I had kids I was a bit of a neat freak. Every Sunday I cleaned the house from top to bottom to start the week off fresh. Everything had a place and everything was in its place. Now I’m lucky if there’s a walk path through the sea of toys scattered on the playroom floor, and it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to need to step over a pair of princess panties wadded up on the floor. *Heavy sigh*
Before I had kids my house was NEVER going to look like kids had taken it over (now it looks like I’m running an unauthorized daycare center out of my front room) and I was going to teach my kids that you only have one toy out at a time and that it needs to be put away before getting out another toy. (Ha!) Yeah, I was pretty much a giant sanctimonious asshole. Karma got me back though!
These days priority goes toward making sure the piles of dirty laundry get washed, hung, folded, and put away. To making sure the dishes are done so we can have clean plates for dinner. To taking out the never-ending trash before it starts to smell. Everything else is just a luxury that gets completed when time (and energy) permits. I’ve (mostly) learned to embrace this new standard of cleanliness.
It just becomes a fact of life that when you take the time to get some cleaning done, your kids will use that time to make a giant mess in another room. Case in point; When I decided to do a thorough cleaning and reorganization of our guest bedroom my darling daughter used that time in my absence to tear her own bedroom apart.
Or there was the time my house was neat and picked up. I took a phone call from a friend and in the 30 minutes I was not policing them my children turned my downstairs into an obstacle course that could double as a training ground for American Ninja Warrior. Every chair pulled out and lined up, and every pillow and cushion in a pile on the floor.
And then there was that time this Monday when I went upstairs to scrub the 2 toilets up there only to come downstairs to discover that one of my kids (neither one would fess up, of course) had made a mess of the downstairs bathroom. I’ll spare you the details, but I’ll just say that sometimes I feel like I am living in a frat house–and I don’t even have boys!!
So these days I mostly try to focus on keeping things reasonably picked up off the ground, floors from reaching the point of being sticky, and keeping the layers of dust under a quarter-inch tall. I have learned that the price of mopping your floors is having every toy strewn about the house, and the price of putting all the strewn about toys away is having dirty floors. And watch your step. There are some dirty panties on the floor right there…