A Zone Defense Approach to House Cleaning

Parents, I give you: Lament of a Clean House

Woe to you Mother, or Father,

Who attempts a clean house to make.

Dirt and grime and things much worse

You can’t live with this headache!

Valiant though your efforts be,

You just gave birth, which gives you three!

And three is three too many for me.

If you don’t sleep, you’ll go crazy!

If you have the motivation to clean,

Your uphill  fight is bold.

You strap the baby onto your chest

And continue to scrub the mold.

And in the rising tidal wave

Of crumbs and sand and goo,

You hesitate and then you say

“Can you leave them for just a few?”

But it’s too late: you already started

The table, floor, and counter tops.

Till finally clean! Ex-germinated!

Your mind’s at peace, the kids are quiet,

You reverently begin to mop.

Uh oh … the kids are quiet?

How long has that silence lasted?


Many mothers and fathers would agree that maintaining a clean house is one of the biggest challenges postpartum.

We all try really hard to maintain our homes, to keep them at some level of cleanliness. But, we’ve also all had those moments. Perhaps we have them daily. Moments you rue having utter focus. You’re scrubbing the bathtub. You’re making headway on a dinner you know will rock. You finally tackle that mountain of crusty dishes and your counter is so clean! You have a small celebration of one and you revel in your victory until your face falls suddenly and you realize: your house is quiet.

For anyone else, quiet is good. Quiet is peaceful. Quiet is … nice. But you, dear mother, have small children! One who love to discover. Award-winning mess makers. Fiends who wreak havoc in 32 seconds. Messes that take you 32 minutes to undo!

For you, silence is suspicious and can mean your children are asleep somewhere (hopefully but unlikely) or are about to negate any victory you’ve accomplished elsewhere in the house.

You brace yourself every time. Because in the past, you’ve discovered blue paint on your two sons head to toe (and handprints on your duvet). You’ve discovered cocoa powder covering half your kitchen (and on your two sons head to toe). You’ve discovered your cat’s new haircut.

Now, taking your hawk-like eyeballs off of your minions is inevitable: putting your baby down for nap, unpacking the car, prepping dinner. But I think we would all agree that minimizing their … opportunities, we’ll say … for creating havoc, is advised. I’m all about free play. But I’m also for walls free from fingerprints and pet safety.

This is why my cleaning mindset has become about zone defense. I clean, tidy, do whatever I have to do in the same zone of the house my kids are in. Luckily, this doesn’t mean I have to be on top of them, just close enough to know they’re not on unwanted adventures.

This means:

  • Doing the dishes and meal prep while they have snack.
  • Scrubbing the toilet or cleaning the vanity while they splash in the tub during bath time.
  • Folding laundry while they’re exploring my room and jumping on the bed.
  • Dusting and vacuuming while they’re in the living room or playroom.

Surprisingly, I rarely feel my cleaning is inefficient or gets interrupted. I get interrupted – a lot! – of course, but it’s a huge relief to know I’m nipping many unwanted mishaps and messes in the bud simply with my presence. This has also become such an opportunity. My kids see me exercising industry and want to be included! It lends itself well to kids helping out when they are old enough and ready. Why yes, 4-and-a-half-year-old! You may vacuum the play room!

Efficient, indeed. 😊

How does Marabou support women?

Moms who used to “lie-in” for forty days now have to pick themselves up within a week to get back to work. Grandmas, sisters and best friends who otherwise would have been there to help a woman transition into motherhood now live too far away and often can’t take time away from their full time job. Household chores and caring for older children fall on the woman who just delivered a new life and whose body needs rest. But we live in a sprawled world and helping hands are plentiful but often too far to be of benefit. 

Marabou Services is a unique gift registry which provides services instead of stuff. Most mom’s get too many onesies, too many baby blankets and not enough helping hands. How can you give you daughter living in Japan married to a Navy sailor a helping hand? How can you lend a hand to your best friend who moved to California? How do you ask for help when none of your family lives near you anymore?

Start a Marabou Gift Registry!

With a Marabou gift registry you can ask for any service you know will be of benefit during postpartum recovery.

Postpartum doulas for a first time mom

House cleanings for moms of multiples

Childcare for moms with older children!

Once your registry is created, add it to any other registry or post it to your Facebook and ask that your friends and family contribute to your postpartum service, rather than buying you more stuff.

More and more moms find they have to figure out postpartum alone. Women don't have the same support like they used to. Is it any wonder why PMDs are on the rise? Women are embittered by the journey through motherhood simply because no one was there to lend a hand.

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