13 Things I Didn’t Expect to Clean Before I Had Kids

Before my kids came along, I was a decent housekeeper. Not in an OCD, “my floors are so clean you could eat pie off them” kind of way, but an unexpected knock at the door didn’t send me into an “OMG, people are going to see how I really live” panic attack.

Then kids.

I swore to myself that nothing would change when we added our small humans to the mix. My house was still going to look good…and if not good, at least decent. If the floors were sticky, I’d mop them. Bathrooms would be scrubbed on a regular basis, and I would have a plan for the clutter I kept hearing all those other mothers whining about. A plan, a system, a routine. My house would be clean, and my life would be organized because kids are no excuse to have a messy home.


Fast forward a few years. My house is not clean on a regular basis. My life is not something anyone would describe as organized. At least not anyone who hasn’t been hitting the sauce.

In addition to the regular household chores—dusting, sweeping, vacuuming, and scrubbing—motherhood has brought about all these new housekeeping duties that I never knew existed before I had kids.

Freaking kids, man.

Here’s a list of off the beaten path things I’ve cleaned since I’ve become a mom:

1. Things that suck snot out of people’s noses

I guess it makes sense that someone has to clean that little bulb syringe thingy that sucks snot out of a baby’s nose…I just never thought that someone would be me.

2. The bottom of the diaper bag

The diaper bag basically becomes your purse for about the first three years of your kid’s life. No one tells you how disgusting the bottom of that thing can get if you don’t dump it out and scrub it every few weeks. I’ve scraped some gross combinations of stuff off the diaper bag bottom: gunkified chapstick mixed with smushed goldfish crackers that became a really nice paste because you only thought you closed the cap on the sippy cup. Oopsie.

3. The sippy cup lid

If you’ve let milk sit in that cup for just a little too long, you might want to consider just throwing it out and buying a new cup. See also do everything in your power to thwart any signs of “cup attachment.” That’s all I have to say about that.

4. Toothbrushes

I never knew you had to actually clean toothbrushes beyond rinsing them out after use until the first time I allowed my four-year-old unsupervised brushing time. You probably don’t want to know, but let me just say this is the kind of story I’ll tell at his wedding after I’ve had too much wine.

5. The 40 spots in the family bathroom my kids have managed to smear toothpaste besides their teeth and their toothbrushes

God only knows how my kids got toothpaste at the base of the toilet and on the bathroom ceiling. And when I say God only knows, I mean He can just keep it to Himself thankyouverymuch.

6. The inside of the dryer

This is a landing place for stickers, labels, ink smears, and other unidentifiable substances. Who knew?

“What did you do today, honey?”

“I used Goo Gone and a butter knife to clean our appliances.”

I’m not complaining, but I never predicted this life.

7. The space under the dishwasher

I once found a calcified chicken nugget here. At least I think it was chicken nugget. It sort of resembled the remnants of a small rodent, but it helps me sleep better at night to call it a chicken nugget.

8. Bathtub toys

Everyone knows parents are supposed to periodically wipe their kids’ toys down with disinfectant wipes. I mean…I never actually do this, but everyone knows you should. But bathtub toys? Who knew? Cleaning up a gaggle of naked Barbies covered in slimy soap scum is a pretty gross job.

9. Inside the toilet tank

If you have kids that are old enough to use the bathroom by themselves, you need to check the toilet tank once in a while. One of my sons was using this as a hiding spot for his “collection of acorns.”

10. The 139 places in my house dried Play Dough can exist or that Nerf Darts can stick to

Bonus points for me if those places require a ladder to reach!

In spite of the extra (and somewhat odd) places I find myself cleaning, my housekeeping bar has definitely sunk. We live in a perpetual state of clutter. Odds are good that there is at least one chair in my house that is piled with laundry, and odds are also good that no one is exactly sure whether or not said laundry is clean. While I can’t say I no longer make an effort to keep my home clean, there are weeks where the floor doesn’t get mopped. OK, that’s a dirty lie. I’m pretty sure I’ve gone up to a month without mopping my kitchen floor, maybe longer. Definitely longer. Someone spills something, I swipe the tile with a rag and call it good. It is what it is.

And then there are those places I just don’t bother cleaning unless I’m trying to impress someone…and even then, maybe not.

11. The surface of my stainless steel appliances

So many fingerprints…a crime scene investigator would have a field day!

12. The interior of my car

It’s both an embarrassment and a source of emergency nutrition.

13. My kids’ playroom

Yes, motherhood is messy, gross and pretty awesome. Having kids changes everything, no matter how much we insist it won’t.

And, while an unexpected knock at the door might not quite send me into an “OMG, people are going to see how I really live” kind of panic, it’s entirely plausible that a visitor might consider a few minutes inside my humble abode as effective birth control. I still care about the state of my home, just not as much.

Jill Robbins is a wannabe wine snob and lazy runner. She moved to San Antonio when she was 18 months old, so she considers herself a native. She has a degree in social psychology, which so far has been unhelpful in understanding the behavior of her husband and three children. Jill writes about adoption, motherhood, and midlife on her blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals, and freelances for various magazines and websites such as The Huffington Post, She Knows, Babble and Scary Mommy. She is the Director/Producer of Listen to Your Mother: San Antonio, a live show featuring readings about motherhood. You can follow Jill on Facebook and Twitter.