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What is Clean Enough?
I once read this quotation that said:

"A clean house is the sign of a boring person."

And I think that's true. For a home to be clean all the time requires two things: people who have few hobbies to mess it up, and someone else whose hobby is cleaning. Both of those things are signs that someone needs to get a life!

At the same time, a certain level of cleanliness is necessary in all homes. No one wants to fear catching a communicable disease upon entering a bathroom. When my oldest daughter was almost a year old, and teething, I found her in the bathroom. She had managed to lift up the lid, and was enthusiastically gumming the toilet rim.

Naturally, I freaked. And cleaned everything in sight.

But no one's toilet will ever be clean enough for a child to lick.

And that's the point. Nothing is ever truly clean enough when your kids are little. You just finish vacuuming and find out that a toddler has been following you while eating crackers. And is laundry ever all done? Nope.

We need to have a system, and we need to keep things as sanitary as possible. But let's face it. It's never going to be perfect. So don't stress out about it! Make it presentable so that you can feel comfortable in your home, but not so perfect that you're constantly worried about it. I thought about this a lot for my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum, and here's a taste of some of the things I suggested:

Schedule Cleaning Chores

Pick one area of the home, or one task, that you need to complete for each day. Perhaps Monday is bathrooms, or Tuesday is doing all the vacuuming. That way, you know that over the rotation, everything will get clean. It may not all be clean simultaneously, but it will be cleaned in its time.

Then stick to the schedule! Often we avoid cleaning until company is coming, which results in us panicking three hours before they arrive. It's much better to do get into the habit of doing a little bit everyday, so that panic is unnecessary. But the added benefit is that when you're done your work for the day, you really can relax. You know everything will get done in its time.

Decide What is Good Enough

We all need to accept that perfectly clean isn't attainable, especially when children are underfoot. Just remember that over our lifetimes everybody eats a bucket of dirt. If your child picks up a few crumbs in the kitchen, it won't kill them. Concentrate on keeping things sanitary, and clean in its time, and accept that the house will never be perfect.

Tidy Main Spaces

What do you need to have to feel peaceful? Does the living room need to be tidy? Does the kitchen need to have clean counters? I like my dining table set, rather than strewn with papers. Decide what your "must haves" are for feeling like your house is under control, and then do these things twice a day. It's amazing how key traffic areas collect papers, and toys, and even laundry waiting to be folded. Twice a day, ensure that your traffic areas that you worry about are tidy, and you will emotionally feel better about your house.

Recruit Help

Don't try to do it all yourself! Two-year-olds can be taught to put toys in toyboxes. Three-year-olds can dust coffee tables. If you have a set time when everybody tidies, including the children, people will soon adjust. The key is to be consistent!

I think it's amazing how stressful clutter can be in a home. But it can be just as stressful if we pressure ourselves to be perfect. Let's lower our standards, concentrate on what's really important, and get organized. It really isn't that difficult.

So adopt a schedule, stick to a schedule, and watch your stress alleviate! Your house still won't be perfect, but it will be more peaceful and liveable. And isn't that what a home is supposed to be?

Share with us your cleaning organization tips! Do you have anything that really works well to handle the laundry? Toy clutter? Messy dining room table? I'd love to hear it!

And in the meantime, if you want more information about To Love, Honor and Vacuum, get it here:

And you can purchase an inexpensive download of a hilarious talk I gave on this subject here!

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At 11:21 AM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

Good post, Sheila. I personally, focus my energy of keeping clutter to a minmum because it's easier to tidy up when your house isn't filled with a lot of stuff.


At 12:15 PM , OpenID mvlegacy said…

Thanks for the reminder! This is something I'm learning as I just had our second son and it's difficult to stay on top of things! :-) This morning my 16-month old son unloaded 3 plates from the dishwasher and handed them to me. It's small thing, but still helpful. :-)


At 12:57 PM , Anonymous Ann Dunagan said…

This is an encouraging post. Our home is reasonably clean, but not perfect . . . but that's because we have 7 kids, we homeschool, we have people over a lot, and we have a lot of LIFE going on. Thanks for the reminder, Sheila! You're a blessing!!!


At 10:29 AM , Anonymous Jen-After the Alter said…

Growing up my mom always said our house will always look "Lived in" and that's what I want. I've been to houses where they were so clean that you were scared to leave footprints on the carpets! Not my house, I like it tidy and I do my best but it will always look like people can put their feet up and be comfortable here!


At 4:35 PM , Blogger Berji's domain said…

I like tidy and the floors to be clean. But it is 100+ degrees here and we have two cats and a dog. The floors are constantly covered in fur even right after I mop. Just gross. :( And discouraging.


At 6:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I just stumbled onto your blog ... and I've got three kids that are 5 years old and under, so I know how hard it is to keep on top of the cleaning (I particularly like the imagery of the baby following behind the vacuuming, while eating crackers).

Mondays are always grocery days, Tuesdays are *usually* my vacuum days. Er, that's pretty much as far as I get with it.

I guess I agree that it's easier to do bits every day, rather than the rush. I love a clean kitchen counter, and a clean dining room table (you can see it when you walk into our house).



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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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