Parenthood has taught me many lessons — one of them is that a whole array of things need to be cleaned that I didn’t know about. I had previously overlooked the nooks and crannies, the “elbows” of my house and car if you will. But now, I realize they’re gummy, gross, germ factories.
Did you know that gas stations have industrial strength vacuum cleaners designed for you to vacuum your car? I didn’t. Not until I had kids, that is. Now I use this amazing invention about once a week to clean the Cheerios, veggie sticks, straw wrappers, and other sundry items littering my child-transportation device. Before kids, I had never vacuumed my car. Not even once. Now? It’s essential.
The grout around my toilet
I try not to give them much credence, but clichés exist for a reason, and my kindergartener, like boys are wont to do, pees around the toilet nearly as much as he pees into it. I mean, sure, I cleaned the bathroom floor in general before I had children, but the little moat grout where the toilet meets the floor tiles? I certainly was not scrubbing that when I lived by myself. Now, I have to clean it every day. If I don’t, the whole bathroom smells like a kitty litter box.
You know what I never cleaned until Pinterest gave me a shortcut to cleaning them? My baseboards. Nope. I just never noticed them. But one morning, when I was lying awake at 3 AM contemplating the meaning of life, I found a majillion “hacks” to clean them. Now, just like Pinterest advised, my sons delight in driving dryer sheets around the baseboards. Hey, it’s better than using their fingers to get the crud out.
And speaking of fingers, how do both my older son and my toddler walk? By touching everything. Everything. They walk with their arms outstretched, their hands splayed, open to the world and to their surroundings. They are incapable of moving without dragging their hands over the walls.
There’s something about walls. They both think it’s hilarious to literally run into them. They use them as poles — trying to climb them or slide down them. It’s as if the walls are magnetized — they pull my kids toward them in an effort to get stained and greasy. In one week, I’ll have to clean the walls more times than I did in the years I lived by myself.
The kitchen floor
When you have children, the epicenter of disgusting is your kitchen. I sweep the kitchen at least once a day. At least. Usually two or three times. I’m by no means a neat freak, but I am a realist. And I know for a fact that my kids are going to eat off the floor, so I don’t want them eating the debris from the pantry, their snacks, and their last meal. I sweep the whole kitchen — pushing out the chairs and table to reach the floor, getting under the refrigerator and appliances with a yard stick.
Under the appliances
As a single lady, I might have swept under the fridge a couple times a year. After all, it’s not like I dropped much. Sure, some dust or cat hair might accumulate, but I’d surely notice if a pea rolled away or gravity stole my cookie. Now, an errant pea is the norm. So is a mountain of almonds, a smear of butter, or a glob of yogurt. There are all kinds of fun things hiding under appliances. I once found a fork. A fork! The worst was when I found a sippy cup of two-day-old milk. Gag. That’s why I check every day.