Scroll through Pinterest for more than a minute, and you’re bound to stumble upon one of the many (many) cleaning schedules out there for moms. Sometimes they’re divided up by day, sometimes by type of task. But they all have one thing in common: They’re aimed at making the job of cleaning the house (and removing all signs of kid filth) easier. And quick. And oh-so-fun! (You know, until your kids come home from school and destroy each room all over again.)
Last week, Utah mom of three Meredith Ethington took to Facebook to vent about how unrealistic those guides can be, and offer up a new one of her own. Let’s just say, this is one we can totally get on board with.
According to her Real Mom’s Guide to a “Clean” House, here’s what a typical day of cleaning should look like:
“First: Close all bedroom doors to your kids’ bedrooms,” says Ethington. “That way you don’t have to see their unmade beds or nasty, dirty underwear sitting on the floor.”
Sounds good. Moving on …
“Two: Walk into your bathroom and do a smell check,” she continues. “That’s really all you need to do. Sniff around, see if it smells like urine … if not? You’re good to go.”
Well that seems easy enough. Now on to Step 3:
“No. 3: Soak those dirty dishes in some soapy water in the sink,” instructs Ethington. “That gives the appearance you’re going to do something with it at some point, but you really could just leave them there all day long.”
You’ll like No. 4 if you especially hate sweeping: Ethington advises parents to “let the dog clean up all the crumbs on the floor” and in making sure he does the job thoroughly, be sure to “point them out to him if he misses them.” And if you don’t have a dog? “Get one,” she says.
The mom of three also touches upon how to handle another common clutter culprit: The loads of junk mail, kid art, and various other pieces of paper that make their way into your home each week. For those, Ethington suggests tossing them into a basket at the end of the counter, so it “looks like you have a purpose” as to what you’re going to do with them.
Then? “Leave them there for three weeks before you open them and realize that you’re late on that water bill and that school project your kid has to do,” says Ethington.
Done and done.
She also advises moms to “pick up all the stuff on the floor, and shove it in a closet” — but only if you’re expecting company later. And last but not least, “threaten to take away your kids’ toys daily when they refuse to pick them up.” (Which, of course, you might already be doing.)
Ethington continues on with a breakdown of weekly and even monthly tasks, too — which includes everything from considering burning the house down because you’re so far behind to crying. (All steps, she notes, should be repeated “until you die.”)
But if you don’t have time to busily jot all of Ethington’s guidelines down, she’s got you covered with an easy-to-follow (and yes, pinnable!) cleaning chart from her blog, Perfection Pending, for your downloadable pleasure:
Speaking with Babble, Ethington says she’s been seeing cleaning schedules for moms make their way around Pinterest for months now, and finds herself laughing at how “simple” yet unachievable they all are:
“Some suggest vacuuming your furniture weekly, or dusting baseboards every month. Those are things that I literally never do. Most weeks, I’m lucky if I can get the laundry finished, keep dishes out of the sink, and have the bathrooms acceptable in case someone not in our family needs to use them.”
In creating her own tongue-in-cheek guidelines, Ethington says she wanted to give other moms a laugh, too — and remind them to cut themselves some slack:
“I wanted other moms to realize that they weren’t failing if they weren’t able to keep their houses looking like they were professionally cleaned in under one hour per week. Plus, my kids’ rooms are total disasters and when they are at school, I [really do] like to shut their doors so I don’t see the mess.”
Ethington says she’s gotten tons of great responses from moms since posting the guide, with most of them thanking her for “keeping it real.” And to her, that means the most:
“That’s always been my goal with my blog … to take away the prettiness we often see on social media, and help other moms feel less alone. But, I’ve also gotten many moms laughing at the burning the house down part and letting me know they’ve considered that too. Some have even told me my list reminded them they had a load of laundry sitting in the washing machine for 3 days. And lots of moms have admitted they’ve been following my schedule for years.”