As a recently single Dad with the kids half the time, I've had to skill up around the house.
The mother of my two boys is awesome professionally, physically and domestically. Me not so much. As a result, things were crazy on my own for a while.
My place was a mess, all our meals were ubered in and our video game hours went through the roof. Mainly mine. Since then I have implemented some solid single dad systems.
Key shared custody tips I would like to share with you.
Throw all your kid's socks in the rubbish
One day while sorting socks I noticed I was really bored. Lining them all up and then trying to find pairs takes ages and leaves solos. It's frustrating.
So I threw everyone's socks in the recycling. Bought 30 new matching black pairs. They're a little too small for me and way too big for my youngest. But they're super easy to deal with on washing day. I keep them all by the dryer.
Anyone who wants socks can grab two matching from a bucket. No need to sort them. Our socks are always good to go.
I was cleaning the house one Sunday when I noticed I was really bored. A week's worth of mess is daunting. Micro cleaning is the way.
Make a point of picking things up and wiping things down all the time.
If you leave a room take some stuff with you. See some crap in the hall - pick it up. Spillage? Deal with it straight away.
This is a simple discipline for an adult. Not so much for kids.
The trick is to put the fear of God in them. If your child eats a banana and leaves the peel in the lounge you have to get mad. Call your kids into the room and point at it like it's a murder scene. 'I have never seen anything more horrific in my life, what kind of evil sick worthless person would do such a thing?'.
A massive overreaction is important. It puts cleaning at the top of their priority list. You can also overreact to left out lego, sports gear, nerf bullets, unbrushed teeth and unmade beds.
If you're constantly micro cleaning and hassling your kids there's no need for a cleaning day, the house will always be spic and span.
Smash your plates and cups
I was doing the dishes one day when I noticed I was really bored. So I smashed most of them.
Now I have three plates, three cups, three knives, forks and spoons. No wine glasses, tumblers or flutes. Just cups. You can drink any liquid from a mug.
With so few dishes they can't pile up. You can't have people round. But that's fine. Visitors make mess.
Throw as you go
I was cleaning up after cooking dinner the other day when I realised I was really bored. Since then I have been shoving everything down the waste disposal as I go.
Whacking pots and pans and utensils in the dishwasher as they get used. Wiping up messes as they are made. Nowadays my kitchen is cleaner after cooking than before.
Get rid of all your pets apart from Colin
I was cleaning our massive fish tank the other day when I noticed I was really bored. Worse still I noticed all the fish had died a long time ago.
So I got rid of it. Put it out on the street.
Obviously, you can't just get rid of the family dog. Dogs bring joy. Especially the greatest dog in the world Colin. I'd rather get rid of myself than Colin. What a good boy.
He's a Jack Russell, Mini Schnauzer cross. Sure he takes his food out of the bowl and rubs it in the carpet. Sometimes if it's raining he's too scared to go outside and does his ablutions in the hallway. Often he really, really stinks.
But he's a great New Zealander and I love him.
In conclusion, running a house on your own is a challenge. You need the right systems in place.
So purge the socks, smash the plates, throw as you go, no guests allowed and give away any pets you don't love.
Follow these simple rules and you too can run a trouble-free house. Of course, no one will want to live with you ever again and you will die alone. But that's a small price to pay for domestic efficiency.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.