How To Keep Your House Clean After Baby

The day you bring your new bundle of joy home is a blissful one indeed. You are high off of the closeness you now feel with your partner due to the tremendous ordeal you just endured together, and the overwhelming love and affection you now feel for this tiny human you barely know, and -oh yeah- the high dosage pain killers they send you on your merry way with.

You walk into your nice, sparkly, clean home that you spent the wee hours of the night (when you were supposed to be sleeping) nesting all over during your final trimester, and think to yourself “Aaaaaah…. How nice. This is totally how my life is going to be now.”

Fast forward a couple weeks, and you’ve run out Vicodin, the snowball effects of sleep deprivation have kicked in, you haven’t showered in lord knows how long, and you are sleeping on the couch on top of a pile of cleanish laundry with one hand holding a pacifier in your -FINALLY- sleeping newborns mouth, surrounded by empty take out containers, water bottles and grocery bags. Burp rags and bibs litter the floor, and dust (and dog hair) bunnies have congregated in the corners. Light peaks through the shutters that haven’t been opened since about day three, and you awaken, attempt to straighten the Edward Scissorhands do’ you’ve been working on all night, wipe the drool from your face, and begin to survey the destruction.

Where am I? Have I been kidnapped? Surely this isn’t my house. Wait… is this my house? I think that’s my shirt draped on top of my television. And I’m pretty sure that’s my cat sleeping on that overflowing shoe rack. Mother of God… it is my house. What has become of my sparkling, lemony-fresh domain? What’s that smell? Am I going to survive this catastrophe?

This rude awakening happens to even the most OCD of new parents. So, if you have gone through this don’t beat yourself up. And if you haven’t… don’t delude yourself into thinking that you can avoid it (unless you are a rich celebrity with a nanny and a maid and a personal chef… In which case, I wasn’t talking to you). Believe you me (what does that even mean? Seriously.)… once you carry that little crying, eating machine disguised as an adorable, squishy, helpless lump (more like lumps) through your front door… your house will never truly be clean again.

The realization that what the nurses, family members, and baby literature call your “bundle of joy” is, in fact, a very miniature, lazy, unhygienic, gluttonous roommate happens relatively quickly. Once this happens, if you’re lucky like me and your husband gets a long(ish) paternity leave, then you can band together and tackle the problem head on. But once he goes back to work… Game over, man. Game over.

Not only that, but once the hubs’ go back to work and you are left juggling breast feeding (which is like… really difficult in the beginning), diapers, the (TONS!) of laundry, as well as all the rest of the housework, and trying to squeeze in a poor excuse of a meal here and there… Not only do you not have enough time, let alone energy, to keep up with the housework, but they seem to start to work against you.

I try to give Jess a break, because he is the bacon-bringer-homer… I really do. Still, his LWS (Lysol Wipe Syndrome. See below.) and inability to close cabinet doors (you know that scene from the sixth sense? Yea.) or put his dirty laundry IN.The gee-darn. Laundry basket! (I wish I had a dollar for every inside out t-shirt/wife-beater combo I have found on literally every surface in my house. I could probably pay for my own maid.) certainly does not help the sitch.20130720-151449.jpg Oh, look! There’s one now!

Then there’s, what I now call, LWS. Lysol Wipe Syndrome. It sounds clean. But I assure you it is quite the opposite. You see this here Lysol wipe?

20130721-035115.jpgThis, is a microcosm of my every day life, and a representation of why my house cannot stay clean. Here is what happened:

Jesse was eating a fruit cup. Jesse dropped fruit (pears) from the fruit cup onto the living room floor that had just been mopped (in fact the whole house had just been cleaned). He looked back at me, eyebrows raised. We exchanged witty banter. He went back to what he was doing.

Perplexed, I said, “Uuuuh… I hope you’re not leaving those pears on my nice clean floor.” More witty banter. I asked him to pick them up and wipe up the spot with a Lysol wipe so it wouldn’t be sticky. He said he would (or maybe he didn’t… but trust me… it was implied) and I went about my business.

Later, I walked by that very same spot and there, on the floor, was the Lysol wipe. Maybe I shouldn’t have been, but I was amazed. I don’t feel like “A for effort” really applies here. ‘This is why I can’t keep the house clean,’ I thought.

It’s my own fault I guess, I’ve been picking up after him for years. So is the plight of the American housewife, I guess. I can’t complain too much. And though the above novel might seem like complaining, really it is an attempt at a clear picture of my situation. It’s just reality.

SO, what do you do when you have a husband, a baby, two dogs, and admittedly, most of the time, your own exhausted, baby-toting, lazy self working against you?

GET ORGANIZED

Room of the day.
•First, divide your house into rooms. Each room will have it’s own assigned day. For example, my house conveniently has 7 rooms; the kitchen and dining area, the living room, the den, the bathroom, and three bedrooms. Assign each room a day. Every day you will spend time thoroughly cleaning “the room of the day.”

•Make yourself a checklist. Checking things off can give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to keep up the good work! Here’s an example of a thorough checklist:

Kitchen:
_Clean and put away dishes.
_Wipe down countertops
_Wipe down cabinet doors.
_Clean windows and sills.
_Clean refrigerator
_Take out the garbage
_Wipe off table top
_Sweep and mop

Living room:
_Get rid of cobwebs
_Dust tv, furniture, window sills and baseboards
_Put away anything that’s out of place.
_Fluff throw pillows.
_Vacuum and/or sweep and mop

Bathroom:
_Get rid of cobwebs
_Wipe down mirror
_Wipe down countertop and sink
_Scrub toilet bowl
_Wipe down toilet
_Scrub shower
_Empty garbage
_Sweep and mop floor

Bedrooms
_Cobwebs
_Dust ceiling fans, window sills and furniture.
_Make bed
_Pick up and put away.
_Vacuum and/or sweep and mop

Miscellaneous
_Dust any picture/artwork/furniture in hallways and sweep/mop/vacuum.
_Disinfect doorknobs and light switches.
_Organize linen closet

Again, this is just an example. If there are other things you need cleaned. Add them to your checklist. Doy!

Daily tasks.
•Plan out things that you would like to get done in the morning, say, before the baby/kids wake up. Here’s what I do:

-Make your bed. I’ve heard it said a thousand times, and it is so true. If you just take the time (about 5 minutes) to make your bed in the morning, it improves your mood, gets you on the right track for getting things accomplished, and just makes the whole house feel cleaner already. I love walking by my bedroom when my bed is made. It gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. So do that as soon as you get up.
-Put away clean dishes (you will have loaded the dishwasher and run it the night before).
-Start a load of laundry.
-Spend ten minutes tidying your whole house. Throw away trash, put things away where they go, dust, whatever you feel needs to be cleaned. You’d be amazed how much you can get done in 10 minutes.

Plan little things that you can do throughout the day once everyone’s awake:
-Vacuum.
-Tidy rooms you couldn’t while the kids were sleeping.
-Disinfect doorknobs and light switches.
-Fold and put away laundry (technically you could do this while the kids are still sleeping if you have time. I’m just trying to evenly space things out.)
-Spend 10-15 minutes cleaning your room of the day (You can also do this in the morning if its a room no one is sleeping in).
-Check, organize, and file your mail.

Plan out things you can do in the evening:
-Load dishwasher and start (told you).
-Clean any toys/playpens etc that have been played with and/or slobbered/barfed on during the day and put them away.

Reward & Relax.
Once everyone is asleep and you have completed your routine go find your favorite comfy chair, or maybe it’s your bed, or a porch swing (or whatever!) and indulge in something. You’ve had a long day and you deserve a reward. Have a glass of wine. Eat some chocolate. Read a good book.

If you never take the time to pat yourself on the back then it’s not going to feel worth it. It’ll help prevent those internal kindergarden, tantrum, “well what about meeEEee?” moments. So tell yourself you are super mom, and let your nerves unwind before bed. You’ll sleep better, too.

If you’re too tired to do this at night and your like “I can’t even stay awake long enough to brush my teeth, lady!” try finding a few moments during the day to do something for yourself. Maybe when baby is napping or daddy is playing with him. Make the time.

Remember…
You can’t clean all the things all the time.

Babies, husbands, life… these are very unpredictable things. Sometimes one of them throws you a fastball, or jokingly calls you “fatty” at juuuuuust the wrong time, or spits up on you one too many times before lunch, and you feel like if you do anything more than sit on the couch all day and breast feed (only because you have to) that you will spontaneously combust. That is okay.

So the toilet won’t get scrubbed this week. So what? Your body is telling you to take a break. So do it. Do like I do and nap with your baby all day. You’ll enjoy the closeness as well as the “laziness”, you’ll get some much needed rest, and you can pick up where you left off -feeling much better!- the next day. If today is a wash… I always tell myself “Tomorrow is a new day.

This method has helped me keep my house reasonably clean while taking care of the mini-man and cooking. Sometimes I feel like giving up, and maybe for a day or two, I do. But taking an organized approach helps me get right back ontrack and keeps me from setting the house in fire. 🙂

Try it out! Tell me what works for you! I’d live to hear your stories.

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The Oil Cleansing Method (OCM)

It doesn’t make sense; I have been taught my whole life that oil and my face are mortal enemies, and believe me when I tell you that I have tried ev-er-y-thing to rid my face of the blemishes that have plagued me since puberty. Every line of product you can buy off the shelf, or order, you name it: I have tried it (except for the oral medications… Those freak me right out)! All the while thinking “Why, God, did you curse me with this wretched oily skin? Whyyyyyyy?!”

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Imagine the feelings of betrayal I felt when I discovered that they are, in fact, not mortal enemies, but long lost lovers destined to be together and fulfill all each other’s my hopes and dreams! But instead of dwelling on the lies and the deceit from and the thousands of dollars wasted, in vain, to “Big Beauty,” I decided to dry my tears (see above picture) and move forward.

Enter: The Oil Cleansing Method.

WHAT’S THE DEAL?

Your skin needs oil to seal moisture onto it and stay healthy, supple, and -you guessed it- moist. Over the counter face washes, scrubs and “medications” -don’t even get me started on Proactive!- have a ton of negative affects. They
•strip your skin of much needed oil (sebum)
•over exfoliate, leaving skin dry and red and exposed to harmful UV rays
•and throw off your natural oil balance.

Most of the time your face will overcompensate this barrage of abuse with a crazy overproduction of oil. Which can lead to blackheads and acne. Super not hot.

The theory behind the oil cleansing method is, first of all, that oil begets oil, so the oil that you put on your face will basically stick to the dirty oil that is already there and take it with it when you wipe it off, and, secondly, that it replaces that dirty oil with clean oil to keep your skin moisturized and protected.

LET’S DO THIS!

You will need:
•oil (see below)
•washcloth
•hot water (like, stupid hot)

So, first, you need to figure out your proportions based on your skin type. I’ve seen plenty of blogs that go into percentages and ratios of castor oil to olive oil, but who’s gonna take the time to measure out “30% such-n-such to 70% blah blah blah…”? Not me.

I have heard it told that castor oil is a very cleansing oil, and that the oilier your skin, the more you should use. On the flip side, it can be drying and you should be careful using too much if you already have dry skin.

I have also heard that olive oil and coconut oil can be comedogenic. I, personally, have pretty oily skin and have been using straight coconut oil and I have not had a problem. I have also heard of people using straight olive oil, blends of macadamia, sweet almond, avocado, apricot kernel, hazelnut, sunflower, and wheat germ oils to name a few.

I suffer from acute chronic laziness, and the thought of leaving my fortress of solitude and venturing out into the big bright world to search for some special little “new age” shop that smells like nag champa and/or patchouli just to pay $30 an ounce for some special oil simply did not sound like a grand ol’ time. But that’s just me. So… I figured I’d start in my kitchen and go from there.

You just have to find the right mixture for you. We are, after all, our own unique individuals!

Once you have figured out your blend (or not) of oil, celebrate your specialness and then slap it on!

Massage oil into your face in circles, upward and outward (the rumor is that this “upward and outward” motion fights gravity. While I don’t know if this is true… and I sort of feel like 1 minute of massaging per day vs. an entire lifetime of gravity will do little to no good… I have been wrong before. But I do know that “upward and outward” gets deeper into the pores and scrubs them out. And that is good. So, do that), from your neck up to your hairline. Massage for about a minute. Enjoy the self pampering for a minute and relax!

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Aaaaaahh… So luxurious….

While you are treating your face to this at-home spa experience, make sure your hot water is running so its nice and scalding when you’re ready for it.

Once you’re done with the rub down, take your washcloth and soak it with the boiling-lava-hot water. Wring it out. Don’t be too worried about the temperature, it will cool down on it’s journey from the sink to your face. Cover your face and as much of your neck as possible with the washcloth.

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I find this part especially relaxing…

Let it sit until it cools down, and then remove it with a downward wiping motion, starting at your hairline and wiping down to your neck, removing as much of the oil as you can as you go.

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If you need to, rewet and wipe again until you’ve removed all of the oil.

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Done!

Yeah. It’s that simple.

I only do this once a day before bed. In the morning I just splash, first, hot water(opens and cleans out pores), and then cold water (closes pores) and towel dry.

TIPS AND TRICKS:

•If your face feels dry take a small amount of the oil and massage it into your skin, just until it no longer feels tight. No need to slather it back on there.

•You still need to exfoliate! Otherwise, dead skin can build up. Dead skin+oil=blackheads and acne! To exfoliate without totally ruining your regimen, use about a teaspoon of baking soda. Rub it into already wet hands to make a paste, and massage into face (remember our upward and outward discussion?). Rinse first with hot water, then with cold water. If needed, apply a little oil to moisturize. Don’t -!- do this every day. You will destroy your protective barrier. It’s protective. You need it. Try, like, once a week… twice if you reeeeeaally need it.

•Remember how I said that oil holds moisture onto your skin, and not that it is the moisture? For this to work, there needs to be moisture to hold. SO… Drink your eight glasses of water a day. At least. You know you should. Just do it. Hydrate from the inside out. Also, when you add the clean oil to your face for ‘moisture’ make sure you do it within 5 minutes of wetting your face with that washcloth. Grab that sacred H2O before it evaporates!

•Don’t give up! Your skin has to go through a transition/rebalancing phase. Your face might panic and throw some little freak out blemishes at you. But soon it will realize this is a good thing and it’ll even out. Give it at least a week or two and if you’re breaking out like crazy… Try changing up your proportions or try a different oil. I had some minor breakouts in the beginning, but they gradually got less and less and now I rarely get even one. I don’t even have to do this every day now. In fact, I rarely cleanse with the oil now unless I need to remove makeup or excessive dirt (or if I need example pictures for a blog). Usually I just splash with hot and cold water in the morning and before bed and I’m good. My oil-production is well balanced and I hardly ever get a breakout!

This method also dramatically improved the evenness of my skin tone and lightened the dark spots I had from previous large breakouts.

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I feel like its probably a blog faux pas or something, but since I wrote this blog after my OCM experience and I’m not in the habit of taking or keeping pictures of my face with terrible breakouts punctuating it… I have no ‘before’ pictures for comparison. Guess you’ll just have to trust me! 😉

As far as I’m concerned, this experiment is a huge success and I will never purchase another “face wash” or acne product again.

Try it out! What’ve you got to lose?