My Gran’s Cleaning Tips for Busy Moms
’How did you do it Oma? How did you keep your house so clean?!’ I almost shouted into the phone one day as I called my grandmother in desperation, my house a growing monster of mess around me. I felt like Rea le Roux in this YouTube video.
My grandmother, now 82, raised 3 kids and kept her immaculate household under firm control (as only a true German woman named Helga can do) while my grandfather was always at work, building a business for his family and future generations to come. She just laughed, and said in her singsong voice: ’Was du heute kannst besorgen, das schiebe nicht auf morgen’, meaning that one should not procrastinate and push onto tomorrow what can be done today, as tomorrow will bring with it a new set of priorities.
A whole list of really useful tips followed this conversation. I have decided to share these with you, because, well, they are really useful:
The best way to keep a house clean is by minimising the chance for dirt to settle. I remember as a little girl visiting my grandparents and as we walked into the house, we had to shuffle and wipe our feet along at least 10 sets of dust trapper carpets (the entire length of the entrance hall was basically a line of carpets) ensuring that our feet / shoes were clean and that we did not drag unnecessary dirt into the house. I still shuffle my feet along the carpets when I visit my gran and I know that all my cousins (and mom) do the same. Here are some more tips to prevent dirt:
Wipe your shoes thoroughly when entering the house or better yet, get into the habit of taking your shoes off when entering the house. Ensure that visitors do the same.
If there is a strong wind outside, close all the windows until the wind settles. This prevents all the dust from outside from settling onto your clean furniture, floors and clothes.
Let the kids play in the dirt outside but undress and bathe them before they enter the house again (weather permitting of course).
Wipe rather than dust
Two traditional household chores my grandmother cannot wrap her head around are dusting and sweeping. All that these fruitless activities achieve is to lift the dust so it can swirl around in the air and settle somewhere else, she says. So, in her household, as well as my mother’s and now mine, we wipe all the surfaces with a damp cloth instead of using a duster and instead of sweeping with a broom only, we place a damp cloth under the broom and sweep up the dirt that way (we still mop afterwards as well, for those of you who were wondering).
Do not procrastinate
Do a little bit every day and you will never have to deal with an overwhelming sink of dishes or a huge pile of laundry which will take days to sort, wash, dry and iron while you walk around in your bikini as you have nothing clean left to wear. Here are some tips of what tasks you can fulfil daily:
Daily 5 Minute Tasks
Do a load of washing daily - you can even wash a load over night (if you have a delay start function on your machine) so it is washed by the time you wake up.
Unpack the dishwasher before breakfast – this will allow you to pack dirty dishes into it throughout the day.
Tidy the kitchen after every use / cook: wipe the counters, wash the dishes and / or pack the dishwasher
Surface clean the bathrooms daily (i.e wipe the sink and shower down after they have been used, wipe down the toilet seat and general surfaces)
Pack away things / toys as they have been used / played with
Teach your husband and kids to clean-as-they-use as well – it does not have to all fall on your shoulders as a wife and mom
Have a Schedule
The only way to stay on top of a well-run household is to be organised. This means planning and setting up schedules. Download your free printable weekly cleaning schedule here.
I hope that my gran’s tips and schedule will help you as much as they have helped me. And on those days where even a surface clean feels like too much work, think of cleaning as if you are blessing your home. It is after all not just a house, but a safe-haven for your family to grow and create memories in. It deserves to be blessed every now and then.