This is the story of how my robot vacuum changed my life. Now, I know vacuums aren’t very exciting when it comes to household appliances. They’re usually heavy and dirty and they mean work needs to be done. There were a lot of days when I’d be cleaning up the kitchen after supper and know I should vacuum the floor too (especially after letting the baby feed himself), but I just didn’t have the mental or physical energy to haul out the vacuum.
There are days when motherhood is hard. The to-do list is long. I hear it from all my mom friends: we’re busy just trying to keep up with the kids and the housework, never mind what other projects we might have on the go. And there have been days when I’ve just given up.
Why fold the laundry when it’s just gonna get thrown into a pile anyway.
Why make the kids pick up the toys when they’re just going to turn around and get out a different set of toys.
Why pull out the vacuum today when the floor will be just as dirty again tomorrow.
I knew something needed to change. A sense of despair was creeping around our house. The crumbs that had sat on the floor for three days were a symptom of a bigger problem, and it was spreading. I couldn’t see my way out of it, though. Short of miraculously finding more time in the day or more money in the bank account, there didn’t seem to be any way to keep a cleaner house.
I’ve gotten the girls involved in some of the chores. They need to learn some responsibility and recognize that I’m not their maid. But getting them to help still requires some mental energy from me, to remind them to do their chores (and do them well). And some of the chores can’t be delegated, simply because the girls aren’t strong enough to pull the vacuum or tall enough to wash the dishes.
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Enter the Robot Vacuum
Then my dad mentioned in an email that he was turning on his robot vacuum. I said, “What? You have a robot vacuum? Tell me more.” I’ve heard of robot vacuums before, and once or twice thought about getting one, but I’d never known anyone who actually had a robot vacuum. A flurry of emails went back and forth between my dad and I as I grilled him about how his robot vacuum worked. Then he sent me a flyer for a Black Friday sale.
I spent an hour researching robot vacuums on my phone, and telling my husband (who was driving) what various people said about the vacuums. By the time we got home, I’d picked the vacuum I wanted. It was half-price on Amazon and had good reviews. In a couple clicks, the vacuum was on its way. I almost circled the date on the calendar. After December 5th, I’d no longer be doing the vacuuming.
Using My New Robot Vacuum
The date came and went. The robot vacuum didn’t. I looked up the tracking, and found that my vacuum was sitting in Ottawa, thanks to the Canada Post strike. I almost cried. They didn’t know when I’d get my vacuum. I pulled out my clunky old vacuum and pushed it around myself. On Friday, I took the girls skiing for the afternoon. We came home to a giant box sitting on the counter. The robot vacuum had arrived!
That evening, my husband and I opened the box. We read the instructions and plugged the vacuum in to charge. The next morning, I organized our room (okay, I piled anything on the floor that might interfere with the vacuuming onto the bed). Then I turned on the robot vacuum and closed the door. In half an hour, I came back to a clean floor.
I told the girls to clean their room. In less than five minutes, their room was spotless. I decided not to grumble about why they were more motivated to clean it for the vacuum than for me, and put the robot to work. The girls hung out on Jade’s middle bunk and watched the vacuum bump around their room. It reminded me of the hexbugs they got for Christmas last year—a little black cleaning beetle.
It was Lily who dubbed the vacuum Vicky. The name stuck. After she cleaned all three bedrooms, I put her back on her charging base. I’d managed to vacuum while also loading the dishwasher, starting the laundry, and checking email—all before I had to run Sunshine and Lily out to their monthly girls’ club. It was almost as if I had learned to bilocate.
That evening, I did a quick check around the living room, dining room and kitchen to make sure that the floor was clear of toys. I put the bath mat on the edge of the tub, pulled the chairs away from the table, and turned on Vicky. I sat on the couch and watched her whirrr across the floor, sweeping debris into her dustbin. She bumped her way between chair legs, under the kitchen cupboards (previously a no-man’s land of lost artifacts), down the hall and back again.
And me? It was 9 pm, the kids were finally in bed, and I didn’t even have the mental energy to read a book. I just sat there and watched my robot vacuum clean my house. It was heavenly.
The next day, when I asked Jade to clean her room, her face lit up. “Are you going to put Vicky in here?” she asked. I laughed. Apparently Vicky is motivating everyone to keep their rooms cleaner.
That night, as I began pulling the chairs out from the table again, my husband asked, “Are you going to turn it on every night?” Yes. Yes, I am. And every morning, I’ll wake up to a clean home.
How a Robot Vacuum Makes a Big Difference
Somehow, because we all know Vicky is going to be set loose after we go to bed, we keep the house cleaner. We pick up the toys that get dropped, or the lump of banana that the baby throws off the table. And somehow, because the floor is cleaner, it’s easier to straighten the coats in the entryway, to file the papers that get dumped on the end of the kitchen counter, to straighten the blankets and pillows on the couch.
We’ve had Vicky the robot vacuum for a month now. She does require some TLC. Every morning, I have to dump the dirt from her dustbin (which is, frankly, easier than changing the bag in my old vacuum). Every second or third morning, I have to comb the hair from her brushes (apparently, with five girls in this house, we leave a lot of hair around…).
There’s an old saying that “cleaning house while children are growing is like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing.” That’s true. It’s also true that if you don’t, you’re going to get snowed in, buried under the weight of all that unshoveled snow. That’s where I was, staring at the mountain of work before me—homeschooling, grocery shopping, laundry, kids’ activities, dishes, cleaning—and unable to start. And then a little black robot came along and took one task out of that pile, and it made the entire load feel lighter.
My robot vacuum is the iLife A4s. It’s been super easy to use and has done a great job of cleaning our home. If you’re also feeling overwhelmed with the housework, I highly recommend getting a robot vacuum!