Summertime and the living is easy... If your kids are in year-round boarding school, that is.
If not, as moms everywhere know, living gets a lot wilder and dirtier with our little darlings at home all day.
How will you (and your home) survive this constant onslaught of mud, fingerpaints and toys? Simple. Set your ground rules for summer now. And stick to them.
Here are the five big ones I enforce in my household to simplify summer cleaning.
When the weather is gorgeous, kids should be outside.
We're not raising moles here. No TV or video games during the day. That rule alone should minimize toys strewn around the house.
This rule will also minimize in and out traffic - especially if the kids are wearing sneakers they have to take time to lace up.
Even your little stomper can wipe shoes on entryway rugs or front door mats to protect floors and carpets, and to catch dirt, dust, pollen brought in from outside. Inside, to make summer cleaning easier, place washable rugs in high-tragic areas to prevent sand and dirt from being tracked from room to room.
The major culprits in bedrooms, dining rooms and living rooms are dust, tracked-in dirt and clutter. Hand out chores for each kid. No weekend fun till chores are done.
Forget cleaning day: Instead, set aside a whole precious summer morning (or worse - a whole day) for cleaning, try cleaning as you go. Trash on Monday; baths on Tuesday; kitchens on Wednesday; laundry on Thursday; floors on Friday. And you're off for the weekend!
Figuring out what to cook for dinner occupies too much time and brain power. At the beginning of each month, ask each family member to write down his or her 10 favorite dinners and his/her five favorite lunch and breakfast foods.
Get out your calendar and mark through the days when you're eating out. Then plug in your family's requests for the remaining days. Now you can shop by the week and make everyone happy - at least for a couple meals a week.
Practice prevention this summer when it comes to housecleaning and cleaning products. Show kids the safe way to use cleaning products when they go about their chores. Store your cleaning supplies safely out of reach of curious little hands.
Now that you've managed to simplify summer cleaning, you can enjoy summer, too!