I had to find a way of managing the housework without ignoring my child and taking the focus away from him.
When I was a child, I distinctly remember my mother telling me to “clean up as you go along” when it came to playing with my toys.
Naturally, it was falling on deaf ears and I didn’t practice it very well as a child.
As I moved into the teenage years she applied the same advice to those times I would be cooking
in the kitchen.
I remember practising my recipes for my Home Economics exam and by the end of the recipe, I would be so overwhelmed by the mess
and chaos that I never imagined a time where I might enjoy the experience of cooking.
At one point or another, I began to put her advice to the test and low and behold that is where the magic happened.
By cleaning up as I went along I started to really enjoy cooking. I found the space calmer, I made fewer errors with the recipes and I found it to be a therapeutic experience. I went on to love cooking as an adult as a result.
In my adult life, I have found the premise of “clean up as you go along” to be so incredibly important for me. Even before children came along I found it to be the only way I could manage my chores or keep my home afloat. When my son came along it was more important than ever.
Suddenly I had less time, less patience and ironically a much smaller tolerance for chaos and mess. I had to find a way of managing the housework without ignoring my child and taking the focus away from him.
I have found cleaning up as I go along to be an absolute godsend now that I am a busy working parent. Parenting is so full of the unexpected that it really allows for that kind of thing.
When you lose track of time, end up dealing with a poonami or have an unexpected knock at the door you can handle the “interruption” a little better when your environment is not in total disarray.
Cleaning up as you go along is also much more helpful when it comes to sleep. As parents, we know how tricky sleep can be and after a particularly challenging day, you just might not have the energy to do a big clean up before bed. Your level of exhaustion is so extreme that you can just about manage to undress and get into your own cot!
This is where cleaning up as you go along really comes into its own. As you’re waiting for the pasta to boil dispose of the vegetable peelings and packaging you need to recycle. As the sauce is simmering unpack the dishwasher so it’s ready to be packed when everyone has eaten.
Set the table while the kettle is boiling to get ahead. All of these little efforts leave room for the things you cannot prepare for such as a very sudden bout of teething, a cranky toddler or a massive spillage of some description.
Cleaning up as I go along has helped me to love the space I live in a lot more too. It took me by surprise but I had no idea just how much it was affecting me to come downstairs in the morning time to dirty dishes and clothes on the floor.
Little efforts like ensuring the dishwasher is on and cleaning up after breakfast mean that when I actually arrive home (or downstairs) my first impression of my home environment is not stress, chaos and a massive to-do list. It’s gotten me into the habit of putting my shoes away when I get in from work, unpacking the school bags and making lunches for the next day as soon as we get home.
Small efforts and steps that just get things done while I have the energy. As it turns out they lead to the house running a lot more smoothly and they allow me the time and space to just relax and go to bed when I’m suddenly feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders in the evening time.
It really is true what they say - mammy knows best!
Tracey is a happy mammy to four-year-old Billy. She is a breastfeeder, gentle parent and has recently lost five stone so healthy family eating is her passion! You can find her at www.loveofliving.ie.