Now that you’re a stay-at-home dad, you might be wondering about some tricks of the trade when it comes to cleaning the chaos. There’s no shame in not knowing. Everyone has their role and stepping out of the comfort zone is no different than your first day in the office’s new division. Except now your work office is home. While you’re here, you might as well know about some cleaning tools that make the day-to-day responsibilities zip by faster, leaving more time in between for Sports Center or enjoying that extra time you have teaching your kids the art of Peyton Manning’s spiral.
Cleaning Calendar. First things first: make a cleaning calendar and stick to it. Daily cleaning is mostly surface stuff: picking up magazines, cleaning the kitchen, etc. But by having a calendar for the deep cleaning and special projects, you won’t get overwhelmed by the chaos that can encompass the home. Plan your major events that require your total attention for days and times that mom will be home or the kids will be elsewhere. Nothing like trying to patch a hole in the ceiling when Junior’s got an extra-leaky #2 diaper.
Wire Hangers. Sure, your wife probably parodied the “no wiiiire hangers!” line from “Mommy Dearest”. And she may be right about how they make your hung clothes look like crap. But wire hangers are great tools for other household use, especially cleaning pipes. Use a wire hanger to unclog that nasty hair-and-crud clog-up that’s causing your sinks and tubs to drain very slowly. Wire hangers are also good for helping unclog garbage disposal pipes under the sink. Instead of reaching in with your fingers to unstick that not-so-shredded chicken fat, use a wire hanger to pull it out instead.
Magic Eraser. The Magic Eraser is mysterious. I’m not sure what’s in it, but it’s a lovely tool for removing almost any stain instantly. I’ve removed crayon markings on the wall and rubbed-on paint from my car with the Magic Eraser. It beats hours and hours of needless scrubbing.
Microfiber Everything. Microfiber is the best finishing product for a house, in my opinion. You use them on your car; why not use them on your furniture? No matter the job-dusting, scrubbing, shining- go back over with a microfiber cloth. For a quick touch-up before the game, a microfiber cloth can make your house look like you’ve been dusting twice a day every day. I especially love the Swiffer Duster made of microfiber strips. I think I picked up an entire dog once I got dusting my rental that was previously occupied by a giant, white hound of some sort. Be sure to assign cloths to certain rooms.
Vinegar and Water Spray Bottle. Before you decide to scrub down the kitchen counters, a vinegar and water combination can help loosen up the extra-stuck grease and food particles. Hey, it beats having to sniff bleach and other chemicals all day long. Use one cup of white distilled vinegar per gallon of water, which works out to about 3 tablespoons for a spray bottle.
Kids 5+. Too often parents overlook the skills that your older kids have. Any child from 5 years old on up can help you cut your cleaning time with a little discipline and reward. I usually use the “time” tool on mine. “If I have to do the laundry all by myself, it takes much longer, therefore I can’t take you to the park or Chuck E. Cheese’s. With your help, it gets done faster.” Your youngest kids can sort a pile of clothes. They don’t have to fold them; they just need to know whose pile is mommies and whose pants are daddies. The 9 and 10 year-olds can bring them to the right rooms after you fold them. Younger kids are great at finding stuff on the floor. Have them pick up those objects and put them in a box and let your “tallest” kid vacuum. Watch the healthy competition for who is tall enough to vacuum ensue.