Everyone knows that with a new baby comes a wealth of new responsibilities. But not all of those responsibilities are immediately obvious. Sure, there are diapers to change and appointments to keep, but most new parents also experience an increase of housekeeping duties, both in variety and in frequency of need. Before your home turns into something you might see on A&E, try out a few of these housekeeping tips for new parents to keep your home–and the people in it–clean, safe, and sane.
Clean means clean, not just not messy
In my pre-baby days, “cleaning the kitchen” meant doing the dishes and wiping down the counters daily, and sweeping and mopping “as needed.” Now that there’s a crawling baby who loves putting things in her mouth when I’m not looking, “as needed” means everyday. It’s no longer okay to simply let the dog lick the crumbs off the floor and walk away, because that dog slobber will find its way into my daughter’s mouth, and in all likelihood, sooner rather than later.
The same applies to other parts of the house as well. Vacuuming your golden retriever’s stray hairs becomes a daily battle, and you find a new appreciation for the importance of washing your hands often. For new parents, clean means clean, and not simply not messy. Get used to it.
“Baby-proofing” is a misnomer
There are lots of tools, gadgets, and thingamajigs on the market to help new parents “baby-proof” their houses. Don’t be fooled. Some of these gadgets work and some don’t, but even the working ones usually provide at least as much frustration for the grown-ups as peace of mind.
But the worst thing about these so-called baby-proofers is that they can’t protect your baby from everything, and everything is a potential hazard to a curious and clumsy baby. The power cord dangling innocently from the bathroom counter, the office trash can with yesterday’s half-empty soda can, and the napping Pekinese are all accidents waiting to happen, and they don’t make baby-proofers for those.
So if your wife is prone (like mine is) to leaving bobby pins laying around the house, or if you’re not so good about moving your glass coffee mug from the dangerous toddler-grabbing height of your coffee table to the safety of your kitchen sink, it’s time to break bad habits. There is no substitute for an observant parent.
Stock up on laundry detergent
Yes, yes, I know: baby’s clothes are tiny. So how much laundry could there really be, right? Wrong. Even if you don’t use cloth diapers like my wife and I do–and that’s a guaranteed 3-4 loads per week–you’ll still have more than you ever thought possible. Babies spit up, throw up, slobber, pee, and poop on everything. Housekeeping now includes extra laundry. And if that weren’t enough, soon enough they start eating solid foods, and for a while afterwards a good portion of that ends up anywhere but their mouths. My wife and I do laundry every other day, and we take turns. Whatever your system, stick to it; you want to stay ahead of the chains if at all possible.
No matter how clean and neat a person you are, having a new baby around is going to increase your housekeeping responsibilities. By staying ahead of the game and planning properly, you can keep your house running smoothly so you can focus more of your attention where it belongs: on that cute new baby you just brought home!