Is it possible to have little kids and a clean house?

I love being a stay-at-home mom, love my children, and for the most part am happy with my life. But, I am so tired of cleaning all the time. Any advice on how to maintain a moderately clean (I’m not talking please-your-mother-in-law-clean, just no-diapers-on-the-floor type clean) and stay sane at the same time? Is that possible with little kids?

I don’t know. I know everything in the world, except the answer to this question.

Yesterday, I came home after being away from the house for hours, and the front door was unlocked. This might not be a big deal in ordinary suburbs, but where I live, chances are that if you accidentally leave your house unlocked for the day you’ll come home at night to a bare light bulb dangling from the ceiling, one stray Cheerio on the kitchen floor, and everything else will be gone. My first thought was, “Oh God, what if we’ve been robbed. Have we been robbed?” And my next thought was, “I would have no idea if we were robbed. This place is trashed…but it always looks like this.” So I went into the living room to see if the TV was still there. It was, so I figured nothing else had been taken.

On rare occasion, when I’m not exhausted or pregnant or hungover or overscheduled with do-gooding or needing to catch up on my DVR recordings of Glee, my house looks nice. Everything is in its place. And there are two key components to making this happen:

1. Get rid of your husband and children. You’re not the problem; they are.

2. Lower your standards. There’s no way the house is going to be clean all day, every day. It’s impossible. So during the day, let the kids throw toys all over the place. Let them build forts with the couch cushions and smash Panda Puffs into the table cracks. After dinner and before bath, turn on an episode of Dora, and while they’re still and silent, run around like a maniac putting everything away. The house won’t be spotless, but it’ll be acceptable, and at this point in your life, acceptable is great. Fifteen years from now, when your kids are in college, our houses will be silent and spotless, and we’ll be weeping in our giant glasses of Merlot, wishing more than anything that there were diapers on the floor and sticky fingerprints on the windows.

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