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The Messy Girl's Guide to Housecleaning

People are often surprised when they find out that I'm a messy person. I'm a born leader, Type-A, a bit of a control freak, etc. So I guess they assume that my house is always spick-and-span, complete with color-coded organization and what not. While my brain might function that way, reality is quite different. I really hate to clean. Like, I'd rather do math (which I also despise) or have the stomach flu.

As a mom of three, the house is pretty much always a disaster. Toys, books and random toddler findings are strewn about in every room in our home. As much as I'd like to blame my kids for the mess, I know it's not just them. Growing up, my room was always a disaster. Clothes and piles of who-knows-what stacked 3 feet high always made a fun obstacle course for getting into bed each night. In college, same thing. In fact, my neat and tidy roommates (ugh) would kindly shut my door because they were embarrassed by me. When I got married, things barely changed. Instead of my clothes and shoes cluttering the bedroom floor, now OUR clothes and shoes united together to create a really sweet display of "his and hers."

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However, because I'm an adult, I've come to realize that cleaning is actually a tad bit important and must be done from time to time. While my home will never look like a Pinterest board or Pottery Barn catalog (because we LIVE here!), I have found a few ways to keep things manageable, especially when company comes over. Here are a few tips for housecleaning, even if you'd rather be doing math homework or vomiting from the flu.

  • Host a party. I know this might sound like the opposite of good advice for someone who hates to clean, but this has been a really great way to keep up. When you host a party—whether a dinner, BBQ, game night, whatever—you have to clean. It sort of forces you to, in fact. And while that might not sounds like a healthy practice, it's really not so bad because you get something in the end—a party! Friends at your house! Even if it only lasts for a night, it's worth it.
  • Get or make a playroom. We FINALLY have a designated playroom for our girls and it has changed my life. Instead of ALL THE TOYS in ALL THE ROOMS, now most of the toys are in the playroom, and only a few are found in other parts of the house. Not only does it make the rest of the house easier to clean, it can also be an untouched space, if need be. If the living room is a disaster when company comes over, you'll look like a pig. But if the playroom is a disaster, no one will care one bit. Winning!
  • Baskets, baskets, baskets! These things save my life time and time again. We have a basket for books in nearly every room. A basket for blankets. A basket for blocks. A basket on the stairs for each of my girls to "unpack" at the end of the day. Cleaning and organizing gets so much easier when things have a place to go.

There will be days when you put socks on just you don't have to feel the crumbs on your feet. You have got to give yourself some grace.
  • Divvy-up chores. This is not the 1950s. You do not have to be responsible for 100 percent of the housework. Instead, split the work up. Even toddlers can help with certain chores. In our house, my husband's main "jobs" are washing the dishes, taking out the trash and putting laundry away. If all of that were left to me, you'd probably find me crying and eating chocolate in a closet on a regular basis.
  • Outsource! A few years ago, I hired a college student to clean our home for $10 an hour. That was the best money I ever spent. She cleaned everything—bathrooms, the kitchen, all of our floors, ceiling fan blades (EW!), windows, etc. Because she did the dirty work, all I had to mess with was the clutter. ("Clean your room! The cleaning lady is coming!")
  • Get rid of your shit. Did you know if you have less stuff, you'll have less to clean? It's true. If there seems to be piles of stuff on every surface in your home, it might be time to get rid of some of it. I once knew a person who for every new thing they brought into their home (I'm looking at you, Target $1 Spot!), they found something to give away. Minimalism is super trendy right now, so you won't look like a weirdo if you go this route.
  • Take a breath. You are a real person with real children living in a real house. Your home will not be spotless. Ever. Your kitchen floor will get banana gunk on it every single week. There will be days when you put socks on just you don't have to feel the crumbs on your feet. You have got to give yourself some grace. Playing with your kids is always more important than tidying up. Remember that.

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Image via Twenty20/beccciii

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