The Motherload Housework Tips for Busy Parents

I’ve recently started blogging for the fabulous parenting website The Motherload, whose ethos is to be witty, honest, supportive and 100% non-judgemental. My first piece was an emotional account of my pre-eclampsia experience, but I followed it up with this decidedly more humorous post about housework, so you can see the range of fantastic writing there is on there (not just blowing my own trumpet!). So hands up, who knows the baby wipes trick?

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One eagle-eyed MoLo spotted a frankly hilarious piece of advice on Pinterest, which proclaimed to tell you how to prepare your home for guests, apparently ‘no matter how much time you have’ (I think they mean how little time but that’s by the by). Well, we couldn’t let that one go, could we?

I’ve had a nosey round the American magazine-style website of the creators of said advice, and it’s clearly aimed at women who live inside The White Company catalogue and think nothing of spending $82 on a monochrome mini pillow for their offspring’s gender-neutral nursery. An article entitled ‘6 things successful women never do in the morning’ advises not to ‘make wardrobe decisions’, as if that consists of something more involved than ‘whatever’s not in the wash’, and to start the day with a reflection on your blessings rather than rush around yelling at everyone to put their shoes on. Evidently I’m not on the road to success I thought I was.

So here are the cleaning tips from someone who clearly doesn’t have any children or a job, and obviously way too much time on their hands, adapted for the average MoLo who doesn’t really have time for guests anyway, never mind preparing for their arrival for two hours.

If you only have 30 minutes….

This is the least amount of time they are giving us to prepare for our guests’ arrival. Even with a week’s notice I’d still be trying to cram this stuff into the last five minutes before the doorbell rang.

Tidy up common area and fluff cushions
Throw all toys behind settee, gather up all mail from dining table and shove in kitchen drawer, retrieve cushions from where child has been using them as a fort/crash mat/weapon and replace on settees. Make sure they are chocolate-stain side down.

Wipe down sinks and countertops in bathroom and kitchen. Move dishes into the dishwasher.
If you haven’t discovered how useful baby wipes are for last minute sink-wiping, your life is about to change. Also, I love how presumptuous this is that everyone will have a dishwasher. You’re basically screwed if you’ve got to factor in doing actual washing up into your 30 minutes. Imagine the embarrassment you will feel when your guests see that you’ve still got the breakfast plates cluttering up the drainer. Have you no shame? You could at least have thrown a Cath Kidston tea towel over the top.

Empty the bins and take out the rubbish.
At the very least, push down the stuff in the kitchen bin to fully compact it and allow for space to empty the bathroom bin on top. Don’t allow your guests to put anything in the bin themselves lest they see your empty toilet rolls and used dental floss staring back at them.

Replenish guest towels, soap, and toilet paper. Light scented candles and dim the lighting.
Guest towels?? I suppose they are assuming we all have second toilets that only the Queen can use or something, with pink rose petals floating in the water. And unless Chris Hemsworth is coming round, candles and mood lighting are a bit overkill aren’t they? Just have a root around for that pack of 100 tea lights that everyone has got from Ikea and pop one on the coffee table.

If you have one hour, do everything else, plus….

Ugh, but I’ve already done loads!

Vacuum or sweep the floors.
In fairness, this is one thing I probably would actually do, if only so my guests don’t leave with a light covering of cat hair and biscuit crumbs about their person.

Clean the toilet. Tidy up the bathroom.
A quick squirt of Domestos and making sure the lid is on the toothpaste should do it. Also ensure there are no rogue discarded underpants in the corner of the room. According to the guide this should take 10 minutes. How big is their bathroom?

Clear and dust all surfaces.
How about you just arrange all clutter into a semi-neat pile and dust the bits you can see? Again, baby wipes: just saying.

Make the beds.
Unless your ‘guests’ are in fact ‘prospective house buyers’, don’t obsess over this. I personally like to make the bed each day, but if you prefer to leave it looking like a tornado slept in it (and if you had a toddler in with you for any part of the night you may as well have done), then leave it. For the 0.5% of house guests who will actually want to see your bedroom and are not your own family, you can probably risk it.

If you have two hours, do everything else, plus….

I don’t have two hours. I just don’t.

Launder towels and bathmats.
This is a once a week job. Don’t do this especially for your guests unless something truly terrible has recently happened to your towel and bathmats. Maybe give the bathmat a shake out the window to fluff it up a bit if it really bothers you.

Mop the floors. Wipe down the baseboards.
Again, unless a muddy dog and/or child has just left a trail of brown footprints across your kitchen floor, this can wait. Also, who is wiping down their skirting boards at any time?! That would be like painting the Forth Bridge wouldn’t it? Life’s way too short for wiping skirting boards.

Clean the bathtub and shower.
I would normally have accomplished this along with the sink-wiping and bathroom-tidying but if they want us to spend an extra ten minutes polishing the taps, go on then. If you discover that there is a mountain of ducks, boats and squirty rubber fish in the bath, just chuck them in the airing cupboard with the freshly laundered towels and bathmats.

Clean out the fridge and microwave.
If like me you only use your microwave for heating up mugs of warm milk and toddler tray meals, there is probably minimal cleaning to be done. And you can probably be reasonably comfortable in the knowledge that only the nosiest of guests will be checking out the inside of your microwave. If they’re doing that, they’ll definitely notice you haven’t wiped down your skirting boards. When it comes to the fridge, hide any out of date stuff at the back for now and bash all the loose onion skin out of the salad drawer. Maybe arrange the kids’ magnetic letters on the front into a whimsical welcome message to detract attention from the dishes on the sink.

Tidy the entryway closet.
What is this, MTV Cribs? Should we all make sure our 4000 pairs of shoes are neatly arranged as we show our awestruck guests around our palatial abode? If you want us to make sure all our coats are hanging up and they don’t trip over a scooter in the porch on the way in, we can manage that.

Wipe down all mirrors.
Yes, ALL mirrors. Don’t forget your walk-in wardrobe. At least make sure you get the toothpaste spatter off the bathroom one.

And there you go. You’re ready to receive in 30-120 minutes. Or if you prefer, you could just do the first one, put the kettle on and enjoy a biscuit and a natter with your actual friends. It’s you they’ve come to see, not your bathmats. As long as you’re not living in abject squalor, you’re doing just fine.

Unless it really is the Queen or Chris Hemsworth who’s coming round….

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