I really like a clean house. Obviously, this is a challenge with four kids ages six and under. Right now, since we don’t hire any cleaning assistance, most of the work of keeping a clean house falls to me. While there are many aspects of a clean house to which I aspire, dirty floors are my particular peeve. Nothing distracts me like crunching cheerios underfoot or soggy rice stuck to my socks.
When it comes to cleaning our floors (a mix of carpet, hardwood and tile), I try to vacuum the whole house one a week, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. On a daily basis, the more pressing situation is in our kitchen and dining room. We have a counter in the kitchen where our kids eat breakfast and lunch, but we eat all of our family meals in the dining room due to space constraints. T was shocked earlier this fall when I told him that I was sweeping the kitchen floor 2-3 times a day (is there any end to the granola, bread crumbs and couscous bits that kids can drop on the floor?). Sweeping the dining room is time consuming because of all the chairs that need to be moved. Neither floor cleans well with our upright vacuum, because the vacuum tends to spread stuff around the tile kitchen floor and the wood dining floor rather than vacuuming it up.
So this fall, T proposed the Roomba iRobot as a way to ease the burden of (and perhaps my perseveration over) the messy floors. The Roomba iRobot is a robotic floor vacuum that comes in several different models costing anywhere from $300-700. I’ll admit that at first I was skeptical and not very interested. After all, we already had a rather inexpensive but fully functional vacuum, and we are not prone to routinely dropping a few hundred dollars on house cleaning tools! Before I met the iRobot, I thought of it as an expensive gadget that would get in my way and be more trouble that it was worth. The videos that T showed me always showed the Roomba cleaning spacious, semi-vacant living spaces with nary a toy, cluttered corner, or child in sight (all of which are omnipresent in my house!). But, T persisted in his generous offers. Finally, we made a family trip to Bed Bath Beyond with a “20% Off One Item” coupon in hand. When the BBB sales associate assured me we could return the Roomba at any point if I wasn’t happy with it, I finally caved. What did we have to loose?
T and the kids couldn’t wait to put “Robie” to work when we got home (they had already named it on our way home from the store). The iRobots work with the help of light-sensor technology and have the ability to “learn” their surroundings over time. At first, we noticed that Robie would run headlong into walls and chairs. Over time, the semi-random pattern of vacuuming became more methodical, and it started slowing in front of walls and encircling chair legs. Robie has a spinning brush that helps move stuff from its margins into the vacuum, which helps it clean corners and other tight spaces. I was impressed that Robie’s low profile (about 4” in height) allowed it to successfully clean under our beds, couches, and around our radiators, which are areas that I am unable to reach with our upright vacuum. Robie even dragged out a few lost toys from under the couch! It did a great job on the hard floors and was able to detect especially dirty spots that needed more attention. When it finished, Robie found it’s docking station and went into sleep mode. T pulled out the collection compartment to empty it, and we were both amazed at the amount of stuff it had picked up. T pointed out that if I wanted, iRobot could be programmed to vacuum at specific times during the day. Swoon.
Now, several weeks into our iRobot experiment, I have to admit I am hooked on Robie.
~ T now moves our kitchen stools and puts Robie to work in the kitchen as we leave for school/work in the morning. It is such a treat to arrive home to clean floors.
~If I set Robie to work at the start of afternoon rest time (it is quiet enough that it doesn’t wake the sleeping younger children), it can do a superficial clean around dropped toys and book piles in our living and dining rooms while I work on other projects or obligations.
~T will set Robie to work after dinner while we put the kids to bed, and by the time we arrive back downstairs, the floors are clean.
~My favorite part is that T (my gadget lover) often offers to take over “Robie Duty” when he arrives home from work or on weekends. I’ll take any vacuum that makes cleaning more appealing to my husband and kids.
~Robie successfully avoids falling down our stairs and has amazed me with its ability to avoid entanglement. There is no need for me to watch over or attend to it like a wandering toddler!
In sum, I give our iRobot five stars. Robie was certainly a splurge, but one that is making our daily and weekly life easier and more sustainable. For me, it was a perfect Christmas gift. Thanks to my sweet T for his great suggestion and gentle persistence. And tonight, thanks to Robie for my clean kitchen floor.