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You’d never know it to look at my house, but I’m actually somewhat of a clean freak. I like my counter clear, my carpet pristine, my toilet sparkling. Being in tidy surroundings makes me happy. Ever seen a fish in a freshly-scrubbed tank? Yeah – it’s kind of like that.
But I have four kids.
Four kids who, unfortunately, do not seem to share my love of cleanliness. Like, at all. I could get rid of the trash can and swap out our couch for piles of dirty laundry and they probably wouldn’t even notice, let alone care. They’re impervious to clutter, and I simultaneously despise and envy their ability to not be driven completely freaking bonkers by a mess.
Not only do they ignore dirt and disarray, but they leave them in their wake. I swear they can do nothing more than walk through a clean room and still manage to jack it all up on their way. It’s like a miracle, only not miraculous. Having kids is vacuuming one spot, then turning around to find that the Goldfish cracker fairy has left a sprinkling of crumbs behind you. It’s your child failing to realize he has dog poop on his shoe, and tracking all over the floor you just mopped to a sparkling sheen. And then wiping it up with a towel you took out of the dryer ten minutes ago.
Kids have an uncanny knack for dirtying things up. Even items that, before they came along, you would have had to clean very rarely – if ever. Here are eight previously clean household things that are disgusting with kids in the picture…
1. Your chairs. For adults, eating is a simple process: stab a forkful of food, put it in your mouth, repeat. But for kids who are still learning proper mealtime etiquette, it’s not so neat. They talk with their mouths full, gesture wildly and knock over their drinks, pick out the “squishy” peas and anything that crunches, and grab everything in their immediate perimeter with fingers that are either sticky, saucy, or greasy. That includes chairs, which get crusty faster than a dried milk mustache. The seats, the backs, the legs – none of it is untouched if a kid regularly sits there.
Also, if your kids like to parade around naked, this goes for every other chair in the house. Because while little naked butts are cute, their owners don’t exactly have advanced wiping skills. Just sayin’.
2. Your appliances. In a typical child-free household, nobody is needlessly fingering all over the front of your dishwasher. But when there are kids around, you can bet that every appliance you own is going to be smudged up, spotted, and smeared quicker than you can say, “How is there a footprint on the refrigerator door?!”
3. Your trash can lid. Throwing things away: again, this shouldn’t be a difficult process. Unless you’re a kid, of course. Because they wouldn’t dream of pitching those half-eaten tubes of yogurt or not-quite-empty juice boxes without dribbling them all over the lid first.
4. Your computer. I maintain a strict no-eating-or-drinking-near-the-computer rule, but mysteriously, my laptop’s keyboard is covered with a perpetual crust that I know I didn’t leave. And the screen is always covered with flecks of … whatever it is.
5. Your TV screen. Speaking of screens – if you’ve got kids, then you can resign yourself to watching your favorite shows through a constant haze of fingerprints. I’ve never personally been compelled to grope the front of the television, but my children seem to think they need to poke Spongebob, or that somehow the presence of their grubby little fingers might give the Ninja Turtles a crime-fighting boost.
6. Your light switches. Kids don’t care if their hands are covered in paint or Popsicle or poop or peanut butter; there’s no courteous use of an elbow to flip the switch. They’ll manhandle it with all manner of foul goop on their mitts. My bathroom light switch was once inexplicably covered in some sort of gummed-up orange powder. Cheetos? Doritos? It was anyone’s guess – and why they were in the bathroom in the first place remains a mystery.
7. Your walls. Like, who needs to clean walls? People with children, that’s who. On a regular basis. That’s because walls are like big blank canvases just begging to be painted with kid yuck. Boogers and toothpaste and hand prints. Scribbles and scuff marks and drips of … what is that? I can’t remember any specific food-flinging incidents, and yet the walls around my dining table look like there’s been a prison cafeteria riot.
8. Your doors. Sanitizing the knob once in a while is a good practice for anybody. But with kids, dirty doorknobs are just the tip of the iceberg, because they somehow manage to muck up the area around the knob. Oh, and the side of the door, too. Also the bottom, for reasons unknown. Maybe it’s from all that talking and shoving items under the crack while Mommy is just trying to take a dump in relative peace.
Cleaning a house with kids in it is like building an elaborate sandcastle just to let the tide wash it away – and then doing it again, and again, on endless loop. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if it were just the standard cleaning of bathrooms and stuff, but the extras add insult to injury.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be scrubbing this mysterious brown smear off the wall and trying to convince myself it’s just chocolate.
Related post: 10 Ways to Keep a Clean House With Kids