natural cleaning tips for the working mom.
We all know that using natural cleaning products, instead of those with tons of chemicals, is en vogue these days. As they should be! Nothing is worse than the worry of your child getting into the bleach or other highly toxic products. The best way to get rid of this risk is to remove these items from your home altogether. I have slowly been making the shift from highly toxic to all-natural and hope to be rid of most toxic store bought cleaners by summer.
My husband really isn’t on board. Apparently the smell of vinegar makes him hungry? My mom has been cleaning with vinegar & lemon juice for decades and the smell of vinegar doesn’t make me think so much of coleslaw as it does a nice clean kitchen. It’s rather hard to keep our home clean anyhow these days, being gone for 10+ hours a day makes it hard to cope with the whirlwind of activity in the hours before and after. Truly, you take the mess with a grain of salt. As a working mom, you have to find a bit of humor in mess because if you don’t, you will not be laughing…like, ever.
I couldn’t resist sharing a few of my natural cleaning methods and ways to cope with constant mess.
Get a dog. Yes, this is my legit first cleaning tip. Honestly I don’t know how you dogless parents with young kids survive. Kids spill. Kids drop food. Kids wiggle in their chair and get food in their laps. It’s rare I have to immediately wipe up spilled juice or a plateful of spaghetti that mysteriously ended up on the floor, because my dog always comes to the rescue. He won’t eat his dog puppy chow, mind you, but he loves keeping my kitchen clean. Bonus points: he saves me the effort from pre-rinsing dishes before they go in the dishwasher. It makes up for the fact that I probably forgot to feed him that day.
Sweep first thing in the morning, not at night. You know those tiny bits of carrot & peas that ended up on the floor? You know, the ones your dog didn’t want after your kids spit them out? Under the kitchen table? This may defy every cleaning book written, but if you let them sit a few hours, overnight even, they are easier to sweep up. Typically they are wet from their own natural juices and your kids’ spit, and that moisture smears all over the floor when you sweep them up, making even more of a mess. Now you have to mop and you are at the point in the day where you can’t keep your eyes open and if you cleaned one more thing you might have a stroke. The following night: repeat. Well, pour yourself a glass of wine mama, and turn on Netflix. Eat some chocolate and wait until the next morning. Those bits of veggies dry up and are all of a sudden much easier to pick up, and you don’t have to mop every day. Hashtag: winning!
Make your kids clean the floor. Okay, so it’s officially time to mop. My kids love spray bottles. I mean, who wouldn’t? Nothing’s better than the surprised look on your little sister’s face when you get her in the eye with a spray bottle! For this tip, I give my kids little spray bottles filled with equal parts water & vinegar, with a couple drops of citrus essential oil. I give them little rags, and let them go to town! Seriously, water all over the floor. Some of it gets wiped up, some of it doesn’t, but that’s okay, you can’t expect perfection from a 2 & 3 year old. I usually wipe up the last of the water/vinegar solution with a dry mop or an old ratty towel that I push around with my left foot. Floors are clean! This method totes works on that window with the dried up Playdoh on it too.
Don’t underestimate the power of baby wipes. Baby wipes are man’s greatest invention, in my opinion. If we trust them to wipe our baby’s bum, hands, and face, you sure as heck better believe I trust them to wipe up everything else. I have a pack in every room in the house. Use them to dust bookshelves. Use them to wipe dirty finger prints off the kitchen cabinets. Crayon artwork off the walls. Pee pee off the hardwood floors. The possibilities are endless!
Kids can help with office clean up, too! Probably one of the biggest menaces to a clean home is paperwork. It seems like I am constantly getting mail that has all my personal information written all over it, mail that I don’t really need to keep around. The KonMari method encourages you to keep only things that bring you joy. Well, that property tax bill brings me anything but. To cope, I try to leave stacks of unwanted papers conspicuously around the house with a pair of safety scissors nearby. The law of being two governs that anything that looks important to mom & dad must be destroyed immediately. A kid will see that property tax bill and promptly cut it up into hundreds of teeny tiny pieces and throw them all over the house. Ha! Way to trick your two year old!
When all else fails, stop looking at Pinterest. There may be a point in the week when you have to admit defeat. I do this constantly, and wait until the weekend or the cleaning comes to hit the reset button. The house tends to look its worst when I bury my head in the sand and scroll through social media, looking at pictures of kids with clean faces playing with handmade toys on a spotless off-white rug. Seriously, a cream rug? With a house full of kids? Meanwhile I’m hiding in the bathroom that has dirty underwear on the floor while my snot-nosed kids play hide & seek with their open containers of yogurt. Ugh. The truth of it is that it really doesn’t matter. So your house isn’t clean. Yes, a bit of your marbles have been sacrificed and you tripped over ugly plastic toys in garish primary colors more times than you can count today, but the smiles on those yogurt-smeared faces? They’re the best thing in the world, and suddenly the mess doesn’t seem like a big deal after all. You’re doing great, mama.