If you have been to my house (or sometimes even seen pictures) I am sure you are well aware that cleaning is not #1 on my list of things to do. Some days you might think I haven't done it at all, believe me I have. There are so many aspects to cleaning I really don't know where to start. I guess the biggest thing I like to remember is that I really haven't met a single person who has said "I really wish I had spent more time in my life cleaning". As the saying goes, "cleaning while you have small children is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing" and that really is the truth. The reason people don't wish they had spent more time cleaning is because there is always more to be done. When you even think your anywhere near finished you have to start over. The dishes and laundry get used every day. People walk in the house and necesitate re-vacuuming and sweeping. Cleaning is a very repetitive chore with the only "reward" being the lack of chaos (ok and probably bugs and germs).
Raising children is not repetitive. Every child is different, every day with the same child is different. So much changes every day, there is so much to marvel in. A child's 1st steps never get old to see, the 6th child's is just as exciting as the 1st's (or if your 1st carries the 6th around whenever she's home so #6 won't walk, maybe more exciting). Nothing can stop a person in their tracks like a squeeky little voice saying "I need you" or a wet slobbery toddler kiss.
I remember all my 1st lessons in learning to slow down and see the little things. When E was 15 months old we took her to Disney World. At Epcot Center they have small fiber optics in the ground twinkling. That is something I had seen before, it's something you think "oh, that's neat" and you keep on walking. At 1 year old it is utter fascination, we probably spent a good 20 minutes there with E. She inspected them, stepped on them, tried to pick them up, tried to look in them, there was so much to explore and learn about them. As she got older it was rocks on our walks. Each rock was different, each had a special shape or feature, each needed to be admired.
Kids keep you busy, they may like to slow down and see it all but they never like to just sit and do nothing. We go to the playground, the store, the library, and extracurricular activities nearly every day. This makes for a challenge when you are cleaning. It's hard to clean when you are not home. Obviously, dishes and laundry needed done so that was the 1st thing of the morning. After that, I tried, in the least, making my house presentable. Therefore, I always started at the front door and worked my way in. This worked great in a 2 bedroom apartment with 1 child. Things started to slip once I had 2 kids in a 1300 sq ft house. Many days I never made it down the hall to the bedrooms. These days I have 6 kids (not counting my husband), a much larger house that not only has a formal living and dining room but also has a "family room" (playroom in our house). If I started at the front door every day and worked my way in my family room would soon be completely buried.
I tried Flylady but the only thing I ended up with was a shiny sink. In an effort to make sure, when I was really busy, everything got cleaned on a regular basis a cleaning schedule was created. For those familiar with Motivated Moms my method is very similiar, except it is more detailed and personalized for my house. For example, Mondays and Thursdays I clean the Living Room/Foyer/Dining Room whereas Tuesdays and Fridays I clean the Family Room/Kitchen/Hall, Wendesdays I do all 3 bathrooms (I also do upstairs bathrooms while the kids are in the tub which is a Flylady method), Saturdays I do laundry catch up (I do laundry daily) and the kids bedrooms, Sundays I clean out the cars. Then I have smaller weekly items like cleaning out the fridge, pantry, etc. No, I am not crazy enough to be able to remember it all, I have a Google calender (you can have multiple calenders, and I do so this isn't on the kids appointments calendar).
I have monthly items as well, one of those is cleaning out the tupperware cabinet, which happens to happen today. Tupperware is one of those things that I have little helpers for. If I did it myself, and kids left it alone, it would be a monthly job. Truthfully, in this house, it needs to be a daily job but even then it wouldn't stay clean all day. Doing it monthly I can at least get rid of lidless bowls and bowlless lids so I have less to pick up. Like the laundry and dishes, my "helper" likes to take things out and put them in, not always at the right times. Then, as soon as I walk away, my "helper" likes to continue. Baby L is always so proud to be helping. She is so cute when she looks at you and takes out a bowl, just like you, then hands it to you. You neatly stack the bowls and make sure they have matches. She takes them back out again and proudly smiles, and hands them to you again. Somehow you manage to get it all done and in there stacked. Baby L is bored now, she has toddled away with her cup. You stand up and admire how nice it will be to unload the dishwasher without having to shove tupperware into whatever little nook is left in the cabinet. You won't have to pick up all the tupperware that spills from the cabinet when you open it anymore. Now to get the dishes done. You turn to the dishwasher and that is when you hear the tupperware crashing to the floor. Baby L has returned to "help". I guess I'll try again next month.