Ahh…spring. The birds are chirping, the snow is melting, and the dust bunnies are preparing for your annual spring cleaning ritual.

Now that you’re a mama, let me fill you in. Things are going to go a bit differently this year.

In addition to your usual closet purge and dusting frenzy, there are baby toys and clothes that have been outgrown. There are bottles to be cleaned, windows covered in little finger (and face)prints that need to be wiped, and a little person making two more messes for every one that you tidy up.

Of course, this is in addition to the usual dirty diapers, laundry, and vacuuming that is constantly on your to-do list.

Despair not! Enlist the aid of everyone in your home and you will be kicking up your feet for an ice cold lemonade (or maybe something stronger) in half the time. It is everyone’s home, after all. That means everyone pitches in to share the work.

Whether you are spring cleaning or just trying to stayafloat amidst a sea of everyday housework, these strategies will help youdelegate wisely to optimize your time.

Now, give your partner a high five and knock. this. out.

Divide and conquer.

Sit down with your partner to decide which chores each of you loathe the most. After you take turns choosing, take over your partner’s most dreaded tasks.

In my house, my husband is in charge of taking out the trash, washing the cloth diapers, and, yes, taxes. Hey, I didn’t marry an accountant by accident. In return, I wash and fold the laundry, clean the dishes (most of the time), and make dinner…even if that means peanut butter and jelly and a glass of wine.

Play hot potato with your little spud.

Take turns keeping baby busy while one partner cleans and organizes.

Cleaning will gosoooo much faster if you aren’t constantly chasing after baby while simultaneously trying to tidy up. After all, baby is much more proficient at making messes than mama is at cleaning them.

When it’s your turn, take baby for a walk or head to the playground.

The time spent keeping baby occupied doesn’t necessarilyneed to be evenly split. In my house, my husband tries to soak up extra timewith our little one on the weekends (and I enjoy soaking up a little peace andquiet when I get into my cleaning groove).

Just remember, even though playing is fun, it can stillbe tiring. The person spending time with baby shouldn’t be made to feel guiltyor indebted. Alternatively, if you find that spring cleaning is more of atwo-person job, enlist a little extra help with baby from family or friends.

Recruit your rugrat.

Sure, baby may still be tiny, but it’s never too early to learn a few basic cleaning skills.

If baby is walking, teach him to put away toys and put trash in the bin.

If baby is crawling, let him polish the floors by fixing washcloths to his hands and knees…JUST kidding.

Baby may not be ready to accomplish any big tasks yet, but you can still request his input on which toys should stay and which are ready to be discarded. If your tot seems to have lost interest or outgrown any baby toys or books, now is the time to call a friend with a newborn or find your nearest donation spot.

Negotiate and motivate.

image 1924 Motherly

This step is crucial. No one wants to clean house…especially a house that is dominated by oodles of baby accoutrements.

That’s why it is so important to sufficiently motivate yourself and your partner.

If there is something you or your partner have been wanting, you both deserve it after working so hard to reach your cleaning goals.

Although each of you should be compensated relatively equally, your incentive does not need to cost money to instill motivation.

Put your heads together to think of how you both might like to be treated or pampered. If you play your cards right, you might even rediscover a part of your relationship that has been covered in dust for a while. Footrubs, Netflix, a hot bath, and a few other things come to mind. Who knew cleaning could be so romantic?

Stop, drop, and roll around…with baby!

Most importantly, as you are mentally going through your to-do list, rank your priorities.

What’s at the top of the list? You and baby!

As long as you have thebasics taken care of (like food and cleanishclothes), make a conscious effort every now and then to drop what you are doingand just enjoy your child.

There will always be a mountain of laundry, a pileof dishes, and dust bunnies under the couch. But your wee babe changes andgrows every. single. day. Soak up these precious moments right now.

And justthink, soon your not-so-little one may be helping with a bit of folding,dusting, and scrubbing. Now that’s adaydream I can spend a few precious moments on.

Keep in mind, if your home looks like a tornado (or toddler) blew through not five minutes after your big clean-a-thon, it’s all good. I mean, there’s always next spring.