There are books and magazines aplenty detailing the ins and outs of creating your very own spic and span sanctuary. Line your drawers with perfumed paper. Sprinkle flower petals on your pillow. Line your lampshades with pink silk so that the light will have a soft, pink glow.
But really, the people who come up with these lovely ideas either don’t have small children, or they have more disposable income than they know what to do with and possibly a housekeeper.
As I was scouring the caked on spots of toothpaste on the upstairs sink today, I thought of some practical ‘tips’ for achieving domestic nirvana.
- Store a toothbrush for each family member in every bathroom in the house. That way, if your two year old runs off with your red toothbrush, you don’t have to try and find it when you finally remember to brush your teeth. You can just reach for the downstairs toothbrush, instead of having to (a) use your spouse’s or (b) skip the brushing altogether.
- Keep a set of cleaning supplies in every bathroom, so when the sink is laden with dried chunks of toothpaste and other nastiness, and you can’t stand it another minute…. you can start cleaning right away. No need to procrastinate because you don’t have the energy to walk downstairs to find the cleaning stuff.
- Wear a watch. This will help you know what time it is..at all times. It will keep you from having to ‘guess’ what time it is when you’re at other people’s houses and don’t want to rudely interrupt conversations by asking ‘what time is it?’ It will also keep you from having to squint at clocks that are far away in order to guess what time it is. However, if your watch is an hour and three minutes ‘behind’ the actual time this may present a challenge to your sleep-starved brain, resulting in continued lateness for things like kindergarten pick-up.
- If you still struggle with being on-time for kindergarten pick-up, put your two year old son down for a nap wearing his jacket and shoes. That way, you can whisk him out of the crib and into the car without wasting precious minutes trying to squish too small shoes onto his feet, and pushing his unyielding arms into jacket sleeves.
- Limit every family member to five outfits and two pairs of shoes per season. This will drastically reduce the size of your laundry pile. Not to mention the pile of shoes discarded by the front door.
- Let your kids watch television or movies for hours every day. This way they don’t play with any toys or use any art supplies. And your house stays remarkably tidy.
- Throw toys away. I’m not talking about ‘good toys’. I’m talking about things like plastic spiders and ten-cent cars they get at the dentist’s office – that type of thing. Sure, they’re really excited about it for the first forty-eight hours, but after that, the allure of the cheap, smelly toy wears off. Throw it away. If they ask for it, distract them with a cookie. Or, a movie.