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The Creative Mom's Guide to Keeping a Clean House

Photograph by Twenty20

When my husband and I first moved in together, his bad habits let me feel like I was being a good wife. I would lovingly use the breaks in my day to to hang up his towel, pair his socks, bathe the puppy and keep a tidy home. I was the perfect wife.

Fast-forward two years and between working full-time, raising a toddler, a puppy, five chickens and trying to work with my live-in in-laws who have their own system for everything, I went from hanging the towel to throwing in the towel: My house was a mess, and finding clean surface to bang my head on was too much of a chore. And that's how I learned to keep a perfectly clean-looking house without all the stress.

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One night, I came across a pile of missing documents that had been the discussion of one too many whodunit fights in our house, and my passion for cleaning flared up: within two hours my house looked spotless, and has stayed that way ever since.

Here are the tricks I use to keep my house, and my sanity!

The Hamper

There are six people in my house, only one of who likes organizing. The result was sh*t everywhere and nonstop questions like "Honey, where is my….?"

The cure? The hamper!

The hamper is an old laundry basket (or other large container) that everything that isn't put away by bedtime goes into, including my own stuff when I don't know where to put it or just don't feel like hiking upstairs. It's hidden in a closet, and now when anyone asks me where something is, I don't have to rake my brains to answer their question. I just point them to the closet. Problem solved.

The Toddler-Proof Book Case

My 14-month old loves books, in part, because he loves scattering them all over the place while he's deciding which book to read to grandma. This is cute when it's his books, not so cute when it's my collection of perfectly organized cookbooks or collectors edition prints.

The solution? I purchased a couple of slim books and used old magazines to wedge the books in the case so tightly that even I can't move them without having to pull half the shelf out. It's not the perfect solution, but it sure beats putting books away after bedtime every night. My toddler has a small basket of books in his room, which is easily accessible, and easy to clean up!

Who has time to dust? Seriously?

The Wipe Jar

Who has time to dust? Seriously? It's such a luxury, and between the outdoor-loving dog and futile attempts at decorations there is plenty to dust around, but never any time. So, rather than attempting to dust the whole house, I keep baby wipes in each room, whether they are in a pretty jar or wedged underneath the sofa cushion, where is always a wipe within reach, so I can use those precious moments when my toddler is digging for a ball under the couch give the room a quick dusting or clean a spot I just noticed.

Creative Nagging

I once asked my husband how he did laundry before we met. His honest response was: "I don't know." As much as I've tried, you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but I have learned to have fun with it. Clothes on the floor (because obviously the hamper lid is too heavy)? He now receives an instructional video on Facebook wherein I demonstrate how a hamper is used. Wet towel on the bed? I ask him to bring up the toolbox to fix the rod, because obviously, it's broken.

Storage Furniture

Perhaps it's my mother's influence, but I always felt like everything had to have it's own place. As a matter of fact, I once ate an entire box of chocolates because I didn't know where to put them, and I wasn't going to share them with my brothers!

Now that I'm older and wiser, I finally made an investment in storage furniture, and yes, everything has a place: in the storage bench! In the footrest! In the beautiful wicker basket! I have one in each room for kids toys, and everyone in my house has learned that all the toys/books/pillows go into them. It doesn't have to be neat, it doesn't have to be tidy: as long as the lid fits on, mom is happy!

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The Cleaning Caddy

Along with dusting, bathrooms are my favorite chore to neglect, which is why each bathroom has a cleaning caddy, and each floor a towel bucket. I can easily clean the upstairs bath while my kid is bathing (using non-toxic cleaners, of course!) or the downstairs one when unexpected company stops by. If a rag is wet, it gets hung on the side of the buck, if dry-ish, I just toss it in. Once a week (or so) all the rags and floor matts go in the laundry and voila! I have magically made time to clean the bathroom.

The Shower Cleaner

My shower is another place that tends to sneak up on me, so I keep a scrubby sponge on a hook and when it's starting to look questionable, I give it a quick scrub with regular bath soap before taking the shower. No bending over carefully to avoid getting my clothes dirty or reaching into corners. Hop in, scrub, shower, done!

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