Are you caught in the eternal struggle that is keeping your house clean with kids at home? Do you get one room clean, move on, only to come back and see that your children have moved into the first room you cleaned and wrecked it?
If any of that sounds familiar, then this is for you!
How to Keep Your House Clean with Kids
Keep Your House Clean with Kids Tips
Streamline, Purge, and Minimize
Less really is more. Back to basics for everyone.
Kids are constantly growing and developing. Toys that were great last year, they may have already outgrown. Do you have board games with missing pieces? 50 stuffed animals that your kids no longer play with?
Do you have Tupperware that’s missing lids? Socks that’ve lost their mate? Ripped or worn linens?
Do yourself a favor and donate everything that’s not in good condition or that you don’t still use. Chances are there are tons of things that you don’t need or use anymore. If that’s the case– no reason to let them take up valuable space in your home.
Falling Off the Downsized Wagon
Once you’ve purged and streamlined your house– don’t feel compelled to fill it again. Not only are you spending valuable dollars on “stuff”, but you are putting yourself right back into the same situation of collecting more items to clean and keep track of.
Our house rule is for everything that comes in– something must go out.
A few weeks before Christmas or Birthday’s we go through toys, clothes, etc and see what we can donate or repurpose.
In general, my preference is always to give my children experiences instead of some new thing. When I think back on my own childhood, I remember moments– trips taken, outings, etc. I can only remember a handful of “things” I received– so I try and focus on that where and when I can.
Organization is Key
If you want your family to contribute to a clean house, there needs to be a clear place for everything to go. In our first home, we didn’t have much space to work with, but I organized everything within an inch of it’s life and it made all the difference in keeping our home from feeling cluttered.
Does each bedroom have its own laundry hamper so clothes aren’t scattered about? Do you have a designated area for backpacks and lunch boxes? Where do shoes go? Are closets organized?
Do you have a junk drawer? No one needs a junk drawer. If you need a drawer to place odds and ends that you often need (like scissors, tape, batteries, etc) it still needs to be organized, not just thrown into a closed drawer.
When my kids were really little and I needed to be able to cook, clean and do laundry while keeping an eye on them, the living room was where they did all of their playing— it was the center of our home.
Our entertainment center had three cubbies. In each cubby, I put a bin. You can use any kind that works with your decor and that’s durable– mine were rattan. Since they were super little, I had little pictures on the front of the bin, so when it was time to clean up, they would know what toys went where.
A System for Cleaning
So this goes hand in hand with organization. You need a system to keep yourself on track. There is nothing worse than what I like to call, analysis paralysis. Knowing you have tons to do, but not knowing where to start so you are all over the place trying to do a little here and there and not making much progress.
I personally am a fan of time blocking. I have a sheet/schedule that I reference through the day to make sure I’m maximizing what needs to get done and am staying on task.
With a clear plan in place, you’d be surprised what you can accomplish.
Interested in leveling up your life? Check out this great guide on how to use Google Calendar to get your life more organized!
Get Your Kids Involved
OK, so if you have a newborn, this may not work for you yet, but around one year old or so, I start including my kids in cleaning up. As they get older, they are able to take more responsibility for themselves, but there’s no reason they can’t contribute when they are little.
At three my daughter uses picture chore charts, before that I would have pictures of where items would go and we would clean up together, with me working alongside her, showing her what to do. My older girls have their own list of chores and responsibilities.
Mommas– you wear many hats aside from the giver of snuggles and bedtime stories. You are sometimes a chef, taxi driver, grocery delivery, therapist, laundromat, doctor, housekeeper, teacher and more. But you don’t have to be all those things forever and ever, amen. Children are far more capable than many people give them credit for. Do yourself and them a favor and start teaching them and give them the gift of independence.
When my daughter hit ten, she started taking care of her own laundry. The first few weeks that this rolled over to her, we would do it together. First, with me directing her and then me supervising and now, she’s off to the races and I’ve moved one more thing off my plate.
I am not using my children as my personal workforce. Please don’t imagine me eating bonbons while I watch my 8-year-old vacuum the floor. I’m helping them by preparing them with these very important life skills and helping myself by allowing them to help. Don’t be a martyr, mommas! Family means working together. You are the lead sled dog, not the horse pulling the cart up the hill!
Keep Your House Clean with Kids Ideas
So, we’ve talked about what needs to be done, but how about some easy ways to get.it.done?
Designate where the mess making is going to happen. My kids have designated play areas and their toys, books, craft projects are not allowed to creep outside that space. Where are we having meals? Is it only at the table? We need to contain the chaos!
Designated cup for the day. My girls have one cup that they get to use and reuse each day. As a family of five, if everyone was getting a new cup for every drink of water, I’d spend my whole day washing dishes. I have a spot on my kitchen counter where they keep their cup (mine are color-coded). Their cup stays in that spot all day and thrown in the dishwasher after dinner when those dishes are being done.
Make do with less. Making do with less makes maintaining your house so much easier. Imagine instead of 15 towels for your family of 5– you have 10. Everyone has 2 towels to get them through to the next laundry day. Instead of keeping 16 plates out to use every week, you keep 10 and set the others aside for company in one of the top parts of your kitchen cabinets that you don’t use often. The point is to force yourself to use less, so there’s less to keep up with. I encourage you to give it a try. We adopted this a few years ago and I love it. It gives our family less opportunity for messes to build and we are forced to address it quicker!
Check out the last laundry system you’ll ever need. It’s a very simple and effective approach to staying on top of laundry so you aren’t left dealing with the Mt. Everest of laundry at the end of every week.
Keep an empty laundry/ basket in your main living space. Sometimes life happens at 100mph. When you don’t have time to address the mess, I keep an empty basket (for me it’s a laundry basket) in our living room. I can have my entire room picked up in 3 minutes by tossing everything into that basket. NOTE: This is a temporary fix for a temporary situation. You aren’t leaving this here for days on end. Usually, I’m utilizing this basket when I get unexpected visitors or we have to leave the house suddenly. As soon as our guests leave or when we are back, that basket gets addressed.
Go Paperless. Paper is my nemesis and school work and art tends to produce copious amounts. Each of my children has a bin for the absolute favorite or best work and that gets saved for them, the rest if its something they love, but doesn’t make the cut for the bin, gets a photo taken and then the paper disposed of.
This also works for bills and important documents. You do not need the original of every paper that comes into your house. Bills, warranties, receipts, etc. get scanned into my Dropbox and then get shredded. Bye, bye paper clutter!
Keep counters clear. Cluttered countertops can make the cleanest counter look messy. Kitchens, bathrooms, tops of dressers. Less is definitely more. If you don’t need it every day, find a new place to store it. You won’t believe how much difference this makes in the look and feel of a room.
Designate power half-hours during the day. Set aside a half hour once or twice a day to power through housework so you aren’t faced with a mountain of things to do at the end of the day when your mind and body are exhausted. When your half hour is up–you move on. The point is not to make your house spotless, its to knock out things along the way. The point is progress, NOT PERFECTION!
Create organized areas for the things that regularly come and go from your house. Backpacks, lunch boxes, library books, dry cleaning, school papers/homework. It’s coming home whether you like it or not. Your best chance of success is giving them a system so they can manage their own stuff and it’s not dropped in a heap by the front door.
One thing at a time. Limiting the amount of stuff your kids can have out at one time is another easy way to ensure that you are staying ahead of the mess.
Tidy up before bed. Separate from the cleanup power half-hours, we have one last chunk of time before bed, we get set for the next day. Usually, it’s after dinner, but before showers, stories, etc. Before we started doing this, I found myself crabby and distracted at the end of the night and unable to really enjoy my kid’s bedtime routines. Reading in a tidy room is far more enjoyable than one where we are fighting for space and my kids are distracted by the stuff sitting everywhere!
I would love to hear from you and your tips and tricks to managing your house with little at home. Please comment below!