I know, not another how-to-tip! We are inundated on a daily basis with advice from experts and pros. I’m no expert but I am a new mum, so I felt like sharing my experience with keeping the house clean and tending to the baby’s needs at the same time.
After the first initial period of adjusting to my new life of being a mum, I woke up one morning after a colicky sleepless night, only to discover that the entire house was upside down. “How could this happen? How didn’t I notice it before? And I own a cleaning blog on top of everything but my home is a mess…”, were the first thoughts that crossed my mind. Something needed to be done. Blaming the chaos on the baby was a road to nowhere.
So I got my act together and that very night, after my discovery that I had turned into a rather sloppy homemaker, I decided to embrace a different approach altogether to what was important and what was not in my life. My baby was everything to me but this did not mean that my family had to live in a cluttered house, covered in dust.
Planning is the key to any successful venture. We plan trips, we plan parties, we may not always plan babies but we plan for their arrival!
So I jotted down all the cleaning chores that needed doing and listed them in a priority order. I also took into consideration their duration, regularity and the time of the day that each of them would be best done.
So, if doing the laundry was not even a chore for me before the baby came along, now it had suddenly climbed up to the top of my list in terms of importance and frequency. Or I realised that we’ve been living on takeaways for a month or two, kindly supplied by my hubby, and my oven was still rather shiny to even bother including it in the checklist, at least, for now.
I made a ground rule to stop putting baby gear and essentials wherever I felt like it to avoid creating the extra work of picking them up or more often – looking for them. So instead of adding the new task on my list of keeping clutter down by collecting baby bottles from the bookcase shelf or by sniffing around to locate the dirty nappy, waiting casually to be picked from under the bed, I just stopped misplacing stuff, so there would be nothing left to put back or keep in order.
To set the Sunday as your cleaning day would just make you dread it coming every time. Just distribute the tasks over the entire week. I created a week planner with a couple of chores for each day and the result truly surprised me. Time went quickly and I hardly ever felt that I am toiling away when mopping the floor or doing the laundry. I actually started looking forward to the weekends because I made sure they were chores-free.
So, my advice to new mums is to do a little bit of cleaning each day, whether it is vacuuming and dusting on Monday, laundry on Tuesday and Thursday, or switching on the dishwasher every other day in the evening.
Another valuable tip I can share with you is to note down all the fortnightly and monthly cleaning jobs and set days for those, too. This will help you avoid the situation, I unfortunately found myself in – being overwhelmed and falling in despair every time I looked at my smudgy windows, which had been covered in dust and rain streaks on the outside for weeks. Or how I would get vexed about trying to find something clean to wear in the mornings that was not stained with baby vomit and traces of milk. Basically, my wardrobe was spilling over with winter maternity gear, frumpy robes and what not, which I never got round to bag and put away.
Yep, full-on decluttering for me this coming week!
I am sure that every new mum naturally multitasks while carrying around her little one. This could be when she is speaking on the phone, when shopping online or when simply taking the opportunity to catch up on her sleep and ends up snuggling next to her bundle of joy for a joint nap. But what about the cleaning? Well, this can be done effortlessly with a baby, secured in a sling. The sound of vacuuming may well “hush” them down into a little sleep.
Here’s what I also do when I have to fold the dry fresh-washed linen and clothes. I place securely the baby gym on our double bed when it’s time for little Jason’s nappy-free time. So, while he kicks around and wriggles away in giggles on the bed, I quickly cross the laundry folding chore off my checklist.
A great assistant for mummy can be the baby bungee jumper or the bouncer. You can easily empty the dishwasher, while your baby is safely enjoying himself/herself, in your sight, jumping under the kitchen door frame for 20 minutes. As long as you never leave them unattended, even for a minute, and do not exceed the recommended fun time, you’ll be good to get on with a small house chore.
As soon as I ran out of some of my general household cleaners, polishers and detergents, I kind of never bothered to replace them. It was a natural and intuitive conviction that I did not really need bleach, a glass cleaner, a multi-purpose detergent or a strong oven cleaner anymore.
I’ve always been environmentally conscious and an advocate for a healthier way of living but I can admit, the cupboard under my kitchen sink still accommodated a range of cleaning agents.
The decision to stop buying what I positively did not need was not so much based on some personal values of thrift and the desire to save money. It was my instinctive belief that I did not want to contaminate my home with chemicals, now that I was responsible for another human being’s life. Hence, back to the baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice, for me!
As I still sterilise baby bottles and utensils, I would now only use a standard washing-up liquid, a toilet gel cleaner and a bio washing powder for sensitive baby skin as to assist me in various house cleaning duties.
Well, I am no preacher, so it’s entirely up to you if you follow my example and go green with your cleaning!
Not every new mum can afford a housemaid. My reasons for not resorting to a professional help lie with the fact that I value my privacy and personal space too much. Here, I said it. I cringe at the thought of worrying about my unwashed droopy hair or that I wouldn’t be able to walk in my pyjamas until lunchtime if I had to let a “stranger” in my house to help with the cleaning.
Well, if you feel the same way, this doesn’t mean that you have to cope with all the household jobs on your own. Delegate whenever you can. Your husband or partner can easily do the dishes before watching the game on TV or prepare a light and easy dinner for both of you. Or your mum, sister or a friend can watch the baby if they’ve come for a coffee, while you wash your hair and clean the shower at the same time.
Be creative and return the favour in your own time. You can always help the helper one way or another, whether you gift them with a box of chocolate and a bottle of wine, give your man a relaxing massage to show your appreciation, or console your sister after a breakup with her boyfriend.
There’s not doubt that you are a supermum, but you are also a woman, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend, who can do with some help now and again!