Step 1: Your kids have greedily finished their mid-morning snack, because they refused to eat the breakfast you prepared (microwaved), and it looks like the lunchroom floor of an elementary cafeteria. It doesn’t matter what they ate: bananas, peanut butter, water—there will be a massive amount of accumulation. Go grab the broom and get to it. Your toddler will come barreling down the hallway because he wants to “help.” Hand him a toy broom and point him in the opposite direction. It’s not going to work, so he’ll undoubtedly sprint back to the kitchen with a little too much eagerness. It’s time to play hockey with the pile of crumbs. Try to distract your toddler while you sweep the pile into the dustpan: “Look, I think I saw a bunny outside?!” Bonus points if you keep him from trying to consume anything out of Mount St. Crumb. Be prepared to make another snack; I’m afraid seeing the pile of crumbs will remind him that he wants to eat again.
Step 2: Time to wipe off the counters in the kitchen. Baby wants to partake in the cleaning now. Hand her a paper towel and ask her to clean the cabinet doors. One caveat: baby isn’t stupid; her towel isn’t wet like yours, so you might consider running it under the faucet before you give it to her. She’s happy and starts wiping off the cabinets. Quickly finish cleaning the countertops, slip on the water that’s on the floor because baby decided to go ahead and mop with her towel, and end with a triple axle to avoid landing on her.
Step 3: Walk around the living room and blow the dust off of any furniture that looks like a hassle to clean. If it’s on the bookshelf, move the books closer to the edge to hide the dust line. The glass cleaning can wait for another day. Secretly move the elaborate train design that your three-year-old built on the coffee table. Polish the table and put the trains back. Smile and give yourself praise because the living room smells like lemons and chemicals, and that equals clean.Your three-year-old walks by, glances at the table, and notices that Gordon and Thomas have been switched. Shrug and blame it on the baby, then distract him again, “The bunny is back!”
Step 4: Head to the bathrooms. As you walk by the laundry room, put the dryer on air fluff for the fourth time. It can wait until later…tomorrow. In the bathroom, swipe over the sink, counter, and toilet with a disinfectant wipe. Baby is back like clockwork and wants to assist. Give her a baby wipe and ask her to go clean her toys in the living room (otherwise, she’ll happily clean the inside of the toilet for you). Walk past the living room on the way to the master bath. You notice that baby is cleaning the TV screen with her wipe, so it’s now covered in a nice opaque film. Just kidding, you’re cleaning the glass today, too.
Step 5: Finish the bathrooms, empty the trashcans around the house (you just did this yesterday, so how are there 12 flossers in the kids’ bathroom trashcan?) and clean the TV. Head back to the kitchen and put flossers on the grocery list next to the chocolate ice cream you plan to buy, but not share: “It’s too spicy, sweetheart. You wouldn’t like it!” You’re nearly done, mama!
Step 6: Open the dishwasher and enjoy the free facial from the steam. The citrus Cascade mixed with the summery scent of your dry shampoo will make you think you’re on a tropical island. Enjoy the moment. It’s too hot to unload, so you might as well fold that load of clothes in the dryer. The children fight over who gets to climb in the laundry basket. The baby messes up a pile of your folded laundry while you wrestle the basket away. Fold it again while throwing socks across the room for baby to fetch. Ask your older children to put way their clothes and pray that they make it in the right drawer. You hear your three-year-old’s closet slam and realize that he probably just threw the clean clothes into his hamper.
Step 7: Head back to the kitchen to unload the dishwasher. You’re distracted by trying to figure out what to make the kids for lunch that won’t leave a huge mess on the floor, so you grab a plate and burn your fingers. Darn sanitize cycle. The kids hear you close the dishwasher and come skipping into the kitchen. This makes them think of eating. Feed your precious humans and repeat Step 1, while seriously reconsidering their request to get a dog for Christmas.