For the past few weekends we’ve settled into a cleaning routine. Natalie takes A to the gym for swimming and I get on with the cleaning. I’m usually pretty good at this and time exactly what needs to be done to finish by the time they return. The aim is to mop and let the floor dry before they walk through the door. We had an unfortunate incident a few months ago with A skating across a wet floor and I don’t want to repeat that again.

Occasionally the house needs a deeper clean.

By deep clean, I mean that I have to lift the microwave to get at the crumbs underneath, and move the sofa to vacuum around the back. The thing that usually precipitates this is an impending visit from a relative or, more recently, a burst of nesting instinct (not on my part) as we prepare for a new baby. A deep clean inevitably takes longer and the gym can only contain them for so long.

And so every now and then the unenviable task arises of cleaning the house with a child in it.

This is not easy, as many parents can testify. Children need attention and when you’re not giving it to them they go looking for distractions. Cleaning a kitchen is difficult when your child’s up to something in the other room; it’s hard to go check on them every couple of minutes. Vacuuming seems to be impossible. Either they get cross because they can’t hear the television that you put on to occupy them or they clamber all over you.

I’m seriously considering getting the cleaner back.

About three years ago we found a professional cleaner who came every two weeks to go around the house. All we had to do was tidy and the cleaners would do the rest. We would come home to a blissfully clean house smelling… well, very clean. They would accomplish all this in a morning when everyone was out of the house and probably did it much more efficiently than we could ever hope to. The reason we got a cleaner was because things were getting hard to manage. I was working a lot and Natalie had just gone back to a new job and things were getting on top of us. It all worked out perfectly.

For some reason whenever I spoke to friends I always hid the fact we had cleaners.

Did I want people to think I had been doing all the cleaning? No. Was I worried people would think I was too “posh”? Perhaps. Was I quietly smug that I’d found this simple solution and didn’t want to give away my secret? Definitely.

We had the cleaners for a while but in the end decided to go back to doing it ourselves when things began to get easier. Getting rid of them was one of the worst household decisions we’ve made. They made our lives so much easier and allowed us to focus on the things that truly mattered.

My weekends are precious. Do I really want to spend them cleaning the house?

The most important aim of any parent should be to spend time with their children. Of course, there are other things that get in the way. But if we find a solution where we can do less of the dull stuff and more of the important stuff we should pursue it. The cleaners allowed me to focus on family time and be guilt free about keeping on top of the household chores. Now I found myself spending every Saturday morning doing housework while my family are away having fun without me.

The reason I stopped the cleaning was partly because of cost. I thought I could put those extra few pounds towards something more meaningful. But what is meaningful if not spending time with family? Not spending money on cleaners has become a false economy. But not delegating the cleaning to someone else, I’m robbing our family of one of our most important commodities, time.

It’s time to dig out that phone number of the cleaners we used. The Millennial Dad movement, i.e. modern fatherhood, dictates that fathers today need to work smarter and not harder. If we can outsource this basic task we can free up so much more. Of course, it’s still fun every now and then to vacuum the carpet while being ridden as a pony by a toddler dressed as a cowgirl.

 


After the tranquility of autumn walks, kicking leaves in the warm October sunshine, things have taken a turn. The weather is cooling down, the rain has come, and the leaves are turning to mush. Winter is almost upon us and the festive season is approaching. I’m looking forward to wrapping up warm and going to Christmas markets, enjoying seeing my daughter in her first nativity play, and sipping mulled wine. That’s just me sipping the wine, not her. 

Christmas can be one long rollercoaster and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. So recently I’ve been trying to perfect the art of making a to do list. 

Quite simply, a to do list is a place to offload all the tasks and thoughts that come into your head, so you don’t forget them. As soon as you remember you need to book an appointment or buy something, you should write it down. Be fanatical about it if you can. Because once it’s on the list it no longer has to be carried around in your memory. 

I always used to be reasonably organised, but I’ve discovered a key tool of the Millennial Dad is to make lists. 

I’ve used various methods to capture my to do items from a pen and paper, to more recently the notes app on my phone. A while back I discovered, and have just rediscovered, the Things app for iPhone and iPad. It syncs with your phone’s reminders and Siri, which means you can just press the Home button and tell Siri what you want to remember and it will record it for you on the app. As a dad I find the voice functionality of Siri really useful as it avoids me spending ages typing on my phone and setting a bad example to my daughter. 

Do you make lists? How do you capture your thoughts? Even if you have a great memory I’d say it’s good to get things down on phone or paper to free your mind for even more important tasks. And then you can really start to enjoy the moment. 

There are always things to do and more items to add to a list. 

Once we start making a list we’ll never get rid of everything from it. A list is for life not just for Christmas. I’ve deliberately not written about what to do with your list, but it starts with prioritising everything. Luckily the Things app that I use and many other apps can do that, too. But that’s for another post. For now, try capturing all your to do items as you think about them and see how good it feels.