This post is in partnership with Swiffer.
Let me just start off by admitting that, despite what my Instagram feed might show, I’m a slob by nature. I love a clean house with all of my being, but whatever gene my mother has that motivates one to keep a home spotless did not get passed down to me. I’ve been this way my entire life, but once my kids became toddlers and messes beyond my wildest dreams ensued, my general lack of cleaning motivation only intensified. This past school year was the first time both of my kids attended school, which provided some relief in terms of not having to clean constant messes (simply because they weren’t home as often). But now that summer break has arrived and they’re not only home most of the day but also consistently running in and outside of the house covered in everything from water to mud to rogue pieces of grass and other unidentified outdoor substances, the need-to-clean high season is here in full force.
I’ve discovered that the key for people like me (those who bask in the joy of a clean house but would rather do just about anything than have to actually clean it) is to find ways to make cleaning easier, so it doesn’t feel like a lot of work. And while this might feel impossible over summer break, there are some tips and tricks I’ve found that truly do help keep the house clean this time of year. And today my friends, I’m sharing them with you.
1. Focus on the floors.
Nothing says summer like floors covered in mud, sand, pieces of wet grass, sidewalk chalk dust, smashed cereal, and melted ice pops! Yay! And when it comes to messy houses, nothing makes the entire house look like pure disarray quite like dirty floors.
One of the things I’ve most appreciated since we moved into this home last year is the fact that the floors are wood. And while I love the fact that this particular set of wood floors has been lived on and loved (from acting as a play mat for puzzles and blocks and elaborate pretend scenarios involving fancy parasols and plastic dinosaurs, to being used for my daughter’s daily dance practice, to acting as my son’s very own toddler trampoline), I want to continue living on and loving them for years to come. So I am committed to caring for them the best I can, especially during summer break when the traffic and mess are at their peak.
Thankfully, my good pal Swiffer WetJet Wood makes keeping my wood floors as easy as summertime lemon pie. Specially made for wood floors, this all-in-one system features a soft microfiber pad and light mist spray that dries fast so dirt and messes are easily absorbed and locked away. My floors are left clean and streak-free in a matter of minutes, so I can get back to desperately trying to keep my son from smearing ice cream in his hair while simultaneously rolling around in the mud, or, you know, just enjoying being with family and friends during the best season of the year. What is especially great about using the Swiffer WetJet Wood for daily summer messes is that when you have a clean floor, the rest of the house looks better (even if that means still having cluttered furniture or dishes piled in the sink). So if I had to pick one tip for keeping your house clean during summer break without a lot of work, using the Swiffer WetJet Wood on your wood floors would be it. You can get one of your own right here or at your local Walmart.
2. Have the kids help.
Maybe this is a given, but I for one need the reminder (because it certainly can feel easier to just clean up for them at the end of the day, even though it’s technically not). We have a chore chart on the fridge all year long, but let me assure you that I don’t win any parental consistency awards with keeping it active after a couple of months into the school year. This isn’t to say that my kids don’t have cleaning responsibilities all year, but schedules get hectic and some things just fall to the wayside (sorry chore chart). In the summer however, when my kids don’t have structure but definitely need it, that chore chart is front and center. My biggest tip when it comes to toys is letting them know that they don’t get out new toys until the ones they just finished playing with are put away, period the end.
3. Auto clean at night.
My dreams of living a groovy futuristic life like the Jetsons (please say some of you remember this cartoon so I don’t feel old) and having a robot maid may never come true, but I have discovered that letting machines do the work at night while we sleep – especially in the summer when the days are long and packed full – can genuinely make cleaning feel like less work. Before bed every night, my husband and/or I load the dishwasher and turn it on, switch laundry to the dryer and turn it on, and turn on our trusty robot vacuum (which is simply divine for getting rid of rogue crumbs, dirt, etc. so I can wake up, do a few quick swipes of theSwiffer WetJet Wood and be done). Not cleaning related, but we also grind the coffee beans and program the coffee to auto brew as well. Yay machines! The future is now! What a time to be alive!
4. Make (and enforce) a no shoe rule.
We have a shoes off rule the second we step in the door year-round, but something about summertime (maybe the casual vibes, maybe sheer laziness) seems to trigger forgetfulness when it comes to this rule. And while tracking snow inside during the winter is no fun for cleaning, tracking mud inside in the summer can be an actual cleaning disaster. I’ve taken to making a large “no shoes” sign by the back door, and so far, it’s working. When the rule is forgotten though (which is inevitable), I grab theSwiffer WetJet Wood immediately and give the floors a quick swipe.
5. Clean along the way.
This may be common sense, but there is no other time where cleaning up along the way is quite as important as during summer break. The reason I say this can be summed up in two words: summer clutter. I’m talking about pool and beach gear (so many swimming goggles), outdoors toys that are inevitably dragged inside, lone flip flops in the middle of the family room, summertime snacks (the stickiest), wet swim suits, layers of clothes slowly stripped off throughout the day, etc. Because I am a very unmotivated cleaner, it is tempting to ignore summer clutter (if I close my eyes it doesn’t exist!) until it becomes a massive, far-reaching pile of despair, but I am learning the great bliss that comes from avoiding this by cleaning up each tiny mess as it occurs. Usually this involves me being on top of reminding my 3 year old that the sofa is not a holder for a sand bucket, but it also means immediately grabbing objects as they hit the ground, quickly reaching for theSwiffer WetJet Wood to wipe away dripping frozen pops from the wood floors, and tossing dirty t-shirts into the washing machine as soon as they’ve been discarded.
And finally, while this isn’t officially a tip for keeping your house clean over summer break, I’m going to say it anyway: enjoy your summer. Every year when fall arrives, I wonder where the freaking time went, man. I feel guilty that I worked too much or didn’t get enough done or didn’t spend enough time outside with my kids during the summer months. And truth be told, I’ll feel some level of anxiety over it no matter what because that’s just who I am, but I’m making a vow this year to focus less on accomplishing things and more on making time to enjoy my favorite season with my family. Lucky for me, following these tips for keeping the house clean (or clean-ish, because that’s cool too) over summer break should help carve out that time that is so important. Happy summer break, friends!
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