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Domestic goddess

Picture taken by TwinBug Photography at

If you have read my blog post "0-2 year old twin must-haves," you know how I feel about having a housekeeper. However, things have changed for us. We moved from North Carolina to South Carolina (read "PCS to South Carolina") and our financial situation has changed (student loans!). We moved away from our housekeeper in North Carolina and do not have plan to get one-- yet-- here in South Carolina.

My husband and I have had many discussions regarding a housekeeper. While our opinion on having a housekeeper is remarkably similar, I still want to knee him in the... well, you know, whenever he says, "We really don't need a housekeeper. We really can do it just fine" (my emphasis). Who does the housework around here, if not the housekeeper? That's right! Me! ;)

Our agreement is basically that we want to let our finances settle from the move, have a chance to adjust our family budget to the new pay (and the student loans that we are going to have to start paying on), and see how we feel about getting a housekeeper then. Our last housekeeper came once every two weeks; we might look into having someone come every two or three weeks, maybe even once a month. We'll see.

But more than that has changed: it has gotten easier!

Yes, you heard me right: it has gotten easier!!!!!!!

I have been waiting and waiting and waiting for signs of it getting easier-- not just more enjoyable, as I have enjoyed it all-- but easier, where I feel I have things under control and that I'm not just way behind the game or playing eternal catch-up. Strangely, going from tidying a three-bedroom two-bathroom house for our housekeeper every two weeks to cleaning a four-bedroom 2.5-bathroom house has been the thing to show me that it has, indeed, gotten easier.

I felt extremely behind taking care of our homes in North Carolina. I felt I was always behind in laundry and always behind in housecleaning. I felt our kitchen got the best of me every night and that dinner was an absolute chore. The housekeeper was much needed. She saved my sanity and gave back some of that time to my kids. My house may have been messy with toys, but it was clean! I felt like I had more time for dinner (though I still had a hard time making that happen with the kids at my feet...) and I could get other things done, like laundry or getting out of the house. My to-do list was that much shorter.

Here in South Carolina our house is much bigger. I would have thought that a bigger house would be more stressful to clean. When we first moved in, I said, "I don't know how I'm going to do this!" And then it all fell together. I unpacked our dry-erase calendar (Board Dudes Magnetic Dry-Erase Calendar Tile) and put together a cleaning schedule. Each day I do a really small task and just stay on top of the other stuff (laundry, dishes, getting the kids to put away their toys, husband and I put away our things when done with them)-- really basic things.

Honestly, I think it is easier now because the toddlers are coming up on two and a half years old and our oldest is five years old. They listen better. They play together better. They have more imaginative games and like to push cars or play pretend instead of banging blocks together and stealing toys from their big brother. I can get them all doing an activity and mop the floors or have them fold a load of wash rags from the laundry while I clean the kitchen. If they don't behave or don't have their "listening ears on," as I like to say, then they are sent to their room. If they were being completely naughty, they are sent to their bed and cannot get off of it. If they were only misbehaving in a small way, they can quietly play in their room and can come out when they are ready to participate.

Now that our twins are almost two and a half, we have outlawed whining. We don't take it. No whining following along after me. No whining for more. No whining at your brother. No whining for a toy or because you're bored or because you don't know the word. They can say "please" or "help, please" or "Momma help, please" or any word they can think of instead of whining. I want to hear, "More milk, please" or "No, thank you" or "Foot hurt" or "Cup empty" or "Hungry." Whatever it is, I don't want to hear: "Moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooom....."

And we are enforcing this. It has been an uphill battle, but we are fighting it. It is worth it. I love when I say, "No whining, sir. You need to use words," and he says, "Cup empty." I love when I send them to their room for whining and say, "You can come out when you are ready to stop whining and use words," and he marches his little self out five minutes later with a big smile on his face, ready to use words. Those small victories are progress. They make up for the times that we put a toddler in his room over and over for whining or when we are putting two toddlers in their room over and over again for whining-- long, endless afternoons.

Between the enforcement of our new no-whining rule and their ability to play, housecleaning is much less of a chore. I can tell the boys that I need ten minutes to finish a task, like sweeping the floors, or cleaning the bathtub. Not saying it always goes perfect, but it is easier.

Here is my plan for cleaning our house:

The overall goal of this method is to clean a little bit each day. The fundamental principle is to pick up as you go. Don't save the mess for a different day or get to it later. If you are in the kitchen and a dirty glass is in the sink, put it in the dishwasher. If you walk through the family room and a toy car is next to the couch, drop it over the baby gate by the playroom. Be the change.

Outside of that, I follow these five simple steps everyday:
  1. Clean the kitchen and table everyday
  2. Sweep the kitchen as needed, most likely everyday
  3. Do the dishes right away-- don't leave them for later!
  4. Tidy playroom everyday-- have the boys help clean up their mess
  5. Tidy the living spaces
Right now the toddlers are making a much bigger mess than our five-year old is, so we're really feeling it isn't fair for him to have to do the bulk of the picking up by himself. We help them all pick up the playroom every night and, if it is really messy, before afternoon nap. Our five-year old is awesome at picking it up. Our two-year olds are getting better and better; they still need to be directed to small tasks, "Clean up the trains," instead of "Clean up the playroom," but they complete each of the tasks in a timely manner. (Consistency, consistency, consistency.)

For the actual housecleaning, it works best if you start with a totally clean house, top to bottom. From there, you break up all the big tasks. I have mine broken down to a 2-week rotation, starting over again after completing week 2.

Week 1 and 2 (same):
Floors: sweep and mop, vacuum
Week 1:
Bathrooms: toilets, sinks, mirrors, quick clean of showers/tubs
Week 2:
Bathrooms: toilets, sinks, mirrors, thorough clean of showers/tubs

Week 1 and 2 (same):
Wash towels: kitchen towels, bathroom towels

Week 1 and 2 (same):
Floors: sweep and mop

Week 1:
Wash bedding: master and children's
Week 2:
Wash bedding: master and guest (if used)

Week 1:
Dust and 10-minute clean
Week 2:
Pantry and fridge, 10-minute clean

Meal plan for the week
There are, of course, other things that need to happen when housecleaning, like cleaning the walls or the floorboards. Things that happen once a month or once every couple months, I do on an as-needed basis. I will tackle those tasks, but it will probably be on a random day when the boys are napping and I don't have anywhere to be. I am not scheduling the floorboards! (I hate doing them.)
With all of the scheduling that I have done since our twins were born-- look back on my first blog posts-- I have learned that over scheduling can be as big of a detriment as not scheduling. Your day starts feeling trapped or played through before you've even gotten out of bed. Once the boys reached toddlerhood, we threw out our structured schedule (save for bedtime, which is promptly at 8:00 pm), and started letting things naturally happen. Don't get me wrong, we 100% feel that schedule was much needed and we would do it the same way all over again (read my blog post "Light at the end of the schedule"). I'm a scheduler and a planner and, as recently pointed out to me, an over-thinker. I like to know what I'm getting done each done each day and I like to plan it out. Scheduling, to some level, is just how I roll. So while I have the household chores broken down by what I'm doing each day, I have not scheduled when I'm doing them. Sometimes I do them as the boys are eating breakfast and contained in highchairs (like the bathrooms). Sometimes I do them during naptime (like mopping or moving laundry).
And some things just don't always happen according to plan. To quote Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, "I like to think of them more as...guidelines." Today I cleaned the house from top to bottom. One week I did two days' worth of tasks every other day to take the middle day off. Whatever works. Doing laundry Monday through Thursday with Friday through Sunday off is more of a goal. My mom told me that it never worked for her to take weekends off when we all were young and it hasn't worked for me yet either. Our washer and dryer hum away with at least one load seven days a week. Maybe I'll get down to Monday through Thursday-- wishful thinking, I'm sure.

Sunday's I take off from housecleaning to relax with my family and do our meal planning for the week. I need to do a whole blog post on meal planning-- which I will. What I will say about meal planning is that it makes dinnertime a whole lot easier each night. Dinner doesn't have to be fancy. Dinner just has to be nummy and nutritious, wholesome, reminiscent of home... your home. Tonight we had leftovers and supplemented those leftovers with a Kashi Steam Meal. Everyone was happy! We used up our leftovers and it was easy for me to make, plus the kids loved it. The meal planning is another way that I take the stress out of my day. I don't have the oh-crap-what's-for-dinner question looming over me everyday at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.
When my mom recently came to visit and she saw my schedule posted above my washer and dryer in my laundry room, she said I was a domestic goddess. So I'm running with it. If I was going to be a goddess, I think I would much rather be a goddess of love or victory, but I'll take what I can get. :)


Katelyn said…
Quite the post! I love the no-whine policy!

Life DOES get easier once the twins/kids get older, and 2.5 is definitely when you start to see big improvements!

We've also started a cleaning schedule/chore list for me and my husband. Our daughters help us wipe off the table, load/unload the dishwasher, and vacuum. But, it's really more for me and my husband to keep as a reminder of what we need to be doing so we don't feel overwhelmed by household chores. I might have to review it with some of the what you do on different days. Add a day to meal plan seems smart! I should coupon on that same day!

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