My mother-in-law once told me that trying to clean a house as a mother is like trying to clean in a hurricane: it’s kind of pointless. She was right. Cleaning my house these days requires several things: deep reserves of patience, bucket loads of energy, a severely short term memory (to instantly forget the frustration of your current task at hand), chocolate (bribery), TV (also bribery), and whatever toy that has been living in timeout for at least three days (possibly best bribery of all but will last only 5 minutes before you freak out and put the damn thing back in timeout).
This is how you clean your house. Ready? Here we go:
Step One: Round up the children and threaten them with kingdom come if they dare throw juice on the floor, a sandwich at the dog, dump out a box of Lego’s, throw pillows down the stairs, build “cozy nests” out of the clean laundry and ALL the linens in the house, or scream at the top of their ever-loving lungs when the vacuum is turned on.
Step Two: Do the dishes. This is likely in the top three of the absolute worst jobs in the house. So you know what? Throw those in the trash. Just kidding. Wash them as fast as you possibly can – or fill a dishwasher if you have a bigger kitchen than mine – and mutter curses on your family for dirtying up as many dishes as humanly possible since breakfast.
Step Three: Toss in some laundry. I hate laundry. Hate isn’t even a strong enough word for it. I have to do 4 loads of laundry every day. Every. Single. Day. Don’t bother sorting. Who cares about sorting. Just toss in as much as will fit in the washer, because girl, you are running out of time. Caillou is about to come on and you will lose your mind if you hear that whiney voice belting out of the TV. You gotta hustle and get the next kid friendly distraction ready.
Step Four: Tell the kids that the TV needs a nap and it’s time for them eat lunch. The kids are excited to help. Yay! Make a giant mess in the kitchen. Mutter to yourself about how you just did the dishes. And what the hell is that sticky stuff dripping all down the front of the counter? Wait, why is the dog eating off of your four-year-old’s plate?! Shove a piece of chocolate in your mouth and brace yourself for step five.
Step Five: While the kids are chomping away at lunch, fly through the kitchen and clean as much of the cooking experiment as you can. Then run to the bathroom and change the trash, grab all the wet towels and boxers shorts and other shit your husband left on the floor (seriously, three feet from the damn hamper?!) and then, faster than fast, scrub out the toilet. Toss in one of those blue thingies and flush. Race back to the kitchen.
Step Six: Clean the kitchen again. The kids got excited to “help” and made a water park out of the sink while attempting to do their own dishes. Such sweet kids. Also, there appears to be a small pond forming on the floor. Slip in the pond and almost fall. Try not to yell. Hold it together, lady! You still have to vacuum.
Step Seven: Tell the kids that they can play outside when you are done, in the meantime more TV. Yeah, yeah, yeah…too much TV. Get off your soapbox. Pull out the vacuum, unravel the cord and start Hoovering your way through the house. In the background, the kids are screaming their little hearts out. Try not to let them break your spirit. You are tough! You can do it!
Step Eight: In the middle of vacuuming, you hear the washing machine sounding like it is trying to take over Tokyo judging by the screechy thumping sounds. Run to the laundry room and turn the machine off. Open it up and kick yourself in the derriere for putting too much in. Move the contents around until it looks balanced and turn it back on. Run back inside because the kids are fighting over the remote. And a cat just threw up in front of the front door.
Step Nine: Pour a glass of wine.
Step Ten: Instantly forget that you were trying to clean the house. Go outside with the kids and let them burn off their energy. Sit and do nothing. Maybe check out Facebook…oh, look, Scary Mommy posted some crazy new story about cleaning a house. Read that then order a pizza for dinner.
See? Cleaning is no problem. Just follow these ten super simple steps and your house can look like mine. That is, if you’re going for that an-asteroid-just-hit-my-house look. And the next time someone makes a cheeky remark about how hard it is to clean a house when kids are around, tell them, “Psht…not my house!” You totally got this.
This story originally appeared on Scary Mommy and was written by Sarah Cottrell and can be found here.