They’re cute. There are a million of them on Pinterest, each one more attractive than the last, with numbered columns, fancy graphics, and pretty fonts.
I’m talking about Cleaning Lists. Or cleaning schedules, or calendars, or whatever else they might be called in the quest for an organized, beautiful, dust-free house. Looking at them I started thinking crazy thoughts, like how doable cleaning the house would be. I could have a pretty house with crumb-less floors. I could follow the schedule, right? Of course I could.
So I printed one out and put it on the fridge. Just looking at it, sitting there all square and practical and neat in my kitchen made me feel more hopeful. Which was good, because I was going to need all the hope I could get.
The first column on the list was
Number one on the list? Make beds.
List, are you serious right now? All of us, the four-year-old included, were supposed to remember to make our beds every morning. Hope is the smartest dumb thing in the universe. We gave it a shot for approximately one and a half mornings, before we gave that one up as a daily chore. That one is more of a bi-weekly when mom finally changes the sheets chore.
Next: Wipe down bathroom counters.
The best cleaning I manage in the bathroom every morning is a sniff test for any super offensive pee-smells. We actually had some success with this one though, largely because of how much water my darlings spread all over the counters when they are supposed to be brushing their teeth. The counters stayed clean, but it meant getting used to using up lots of washcloths every day. More laundry, yay!
Third for our morning chores: Empty Dishwasher.
I understand how this could be helpful because dirty dishes spawn more dirty dishes in the sink when you aren’t watching, like demon possessed spawny things made of doom and crusted cheese. There is always a need for an empty dishwasher, to try to stop the demons from taking over the whole kitchen and then the world. But List, in the mornings we are running around getting backpacks together, packing lunches, finding homework, remembering to put on underwear (the kids too), tracking down lost shoes, getting to work on time and not making the beds. We don’t have time to empty the dishwasher. This one did not happen.
Feeling depressed by the first section, I moved on to the second column of my helpful list, which was:
Every night, according to my friend List, we should Load Dishwasher.
We got right on that (after we emptied it like we were supposed to in the morning). I put the clean plates away while my children battled back the dirty tower of crusty dishes using scrub brushes, swords, shields, and raw courage.
Second: Wipe Down Kitchen Counters
I started to get suspicious about all of this counter wiping. What is this obsession with clean counters, List? Anyway, my children don’t brush their teeth in the kitchen so I don’t have puddles of water sitting around ready to wipe off. We nixed this one.
Next chore: Take Out the Trash
Fair enough, and may I say touché, List. Making this a nightly chore cut down on the smell, too.
Fourth on the list: De-clutter Living Areas
What a fun, non-accusatory way to say pick up the random crud that a family leaves all over the floor in every room. Every time we got to this chore I threatened to throw all of the toys away, but we did get to it and our rooms look a lot neater when we remember to do this one. Do we remember every single night? As much as we can (or, no. The answer is no).
Fifth on the nightly cleaning list: Quick Sweep or Vacuum
Since we took wiping the counters off of the list it was only fair to stick to this one. It made walking across the floors barefoot a lot more pleasant, I can tell you that. I started to feel a little more confident in our cleaning skills using the list, which was a mistake because I hadn’t read the next daily night chore.
Last: Chore of the Day
Oh my cheez-its. A rotating schedule of chores to complete. This strategy meant that once a week you’re moving through different areas to clean. Sounds sensible in theory, but merely looking at that list started to make me feel tired. Once a week we were supposed to get through wiping the cabinets, scrubbing the microwave and fridge, mopping, and wiping down all of the walls, moldings and doors.
People wash their walls and moldings? No, seriously, the moldings? Every week? I’ve lived in my house for nearly seven years and never once washed an entire wall. Cleaned off the obvious spots, sure, but the whole thing? I decided that the list was crazy. Next thing you know it would be saying to dust the tops of the ceiling fans and . . . oh. That’s in the monthly chore column.
After some trying, editing and changes, we came up with a Mom Friendly Cleaning List that looked more like this:
Mornings-Wipe Down Bathroom Counters
Nights-Empty and Load Dishwasher, Take Out the Trash, Quick Sweep or Vaccum, Declutter Living Areas with Throw-Away Threats (optional) and Spot Clean as Needed.