I have four kids between the ages of one and eight. Plus I homeschool. So my kids are home all day long. Destroying EVERYTHING!
I am in the trenches and I get the struggle of trying to keep a clean and organized home. It’s like fighting a losing battle and many days I ask myself why I even bother. Why should I sweep the floor or wipe off the table… it’s just going to be dirty again in a few moments.
Ugh! Whatever. I know it’s important to have a clean home for my sanity… plus I’m sure there is something about hygiene and teaching my children life skills…
If you are in the trenches with me and frustrated here are my top tips for keeping your home clean when you have little kids at home.
I am no way perfect at this! Please don’t feel inadequate because of this post. These are just a few tips that have helped keep my life a little saner. Everyone’s home works and functions a little differently so please do what works for you!
1. Teach Them to Help!
My oldest son (8 yo) is such a huge help! But I was a bit late getting this point through my thick head! I thought he can’t clean a bathroom to my standards so I’ll just it do it myself. BIG MISTAKE! True: he can’t clean a bathroom as well as I can, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t able to improve the current situation of the bathroom.
Yes, I do make him clean the toilet, sink, mirror, empty the trash, and wipe down the shower. He does it once a week for about two weeks and I take the third week for a deep cleaning. I only have to clean the bathroom myself every three weeks or so and he can keep it *moderately* clean in between times. Bonus: he does NOT like cleaning the bathroom (too bad!) so he is teaching his younger sister (5 yo) to help and now she is learning to clean it too and I don’t even have to teach her!
You know your own children and what chores they are capable of doing. I know at times it’s easier to just do it yourself. But in the long run you’ll be teaching your children important life skills and you’ll have a cleaner house because of it! My goal is to work myself out of a job, when it comes to housework.
Other chores my children do: pick up and put away toys/clutter/belongings, empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, unload dishwasher, sweep floor, wipe tables, run the vacuum, put away their clothes. Again, these are children 8 years old and younger.
Even toddlers can help put away their things or wipe up messes. You might have to come along behind them to finish or do a better job but it will teach them responsibility and eventually they will be able to do it all by themselves.
Make their job easier and motivate them by getting them their own cleaning supplies such as a broom with a shorter handle,their own cleaning spray (vinegar and water), their own pair of cleaning gloves or a microfiber cloth in their favorite color.
Tell them, “Okay we are going to pick up the living room and then we can do [insert fun activity or reward].”
At the moment I do NOT use a chore chart system. I’m not saying that they are bad or that you shouldn’t use one. But if it doesn’t work for your family then don’t sweat it! You do not need a chore chart to teach your children responsibility and how to clean.
2. Give Everything a Home or Throw it Away!
When you have little kids there is clutter EVERYWHERE! I’m drowning in clutter! They bring everything inside and keep everything! Rocks, Sunday school coloring pages, birthday party favors… Not to mention mismatched socks, lists, shoes, books, random blocks, pants, hats, — I literally just looked around my home and listed the clutter I saw!
So my advice for fighting the clutter: give it a home or throw it away!
TOTES ARE YOUR BEST FRIEND! Yes, I categorize everything and put it in a storage tote. I label the totes (draw pictures if necessary) so everyone knows exactly what is in each tote. Nothing fancy– just an index card with a simple sharpie drawing taped to the outside.
Baby dolls/hot wheels/legos–3 different totes
Swimming suites and supplies–tote
Snacks in the pantry–smaller tote
Consider giving each person a tote that their belongings can go into until they have time to put it away.
Control the Paper!
My kids want to keep all their drawings. My solution was to give each child an “Art Binder.” We 3-hole punch their art work and put it in the binder. If it isn’t in the binder it goes in the trash. I know other people find it easier to scan the drawing into the computer and give each child a digital art folder. Whatever works best for you– find a place for all the paper!
My girls want to keep books in their bedroom for reading at bed time. It was getting cluttered and books everywhere! I gave them a wooden box and all the books go in there. Once the box is full they have to choose some books to keep on the bookshelf in our living room instead of in their room.
Keep toys in one area!
We only keep toys in one area–the play room! We do not allow toys in the living room or the kids’ bedrooms. Of course toys do sneak into every area of our home but they are quickly sent back to the play room as soon as we notice. This keeps the clutter down in the majority of the house.
Throw stuff away or get rid of it!
Sometimes you just have to be ruthless to fight the clutter!
Forgotten toy or outgrown toy/clothes–trash, donate, or sell… but it’s not staying in this house!
I am extremely fortunate to receive hand-me-downs for my daughters! However, sometimes that means that she ends up with four winter coats! I don’t have the closet space to store multiple coats for each child. I pick out the best coat and the rest go in storage or I get rid of it. Just because sometime is in good condition doesn’t mean you have to keep it if you don’t need it!
3. Lower Your Standards
You are probably thinking I have LOST MY MIND! Maybe I have. Sometimes you just have to let go and be okay with less than perfect. Figure out which areas you are willing to give less than 100% in order to save your sanity.
For me, it’s the laundry. I DO NOT SORT my laundry other than clothes/towels. And amazingly, I have never accidentally died a white shirt pink! I also DO NOT FOLD the laundry. If it’s a nice shirt/dress it gets put on a hanger and goes in the closet. If it’s play clothes it gets shoved in a drawer. News flash–baby onsies don’t wrinkle!
Whenever I do fold my children’s clothes and place them nicely in the dresser it doesn’t stay that way for long before they are digging through it to find a specific shirt and everything is messed up again (so I don’t do it anymore). I also make them put away their own clean clothes and they do not fold their laundry and that is not a battle I’m willing to fight.
I also don’t dry my dishes. I let them sit in the strainer until they are dry or I put them away slightly wet.
I realize this very radical for a lot of people and they will not be able to get past this and that’s okay. If it bothers you then please keep folding and sorting your laundry! But find an area where you can slack off a bit to save you time.
4. Consider How Your Home is Decorated/Styled
Last year we ripped out our old, stained, grungy looking carpet and replaced it with laminate hard flooring. A lot of people thought we were crazy to get rid of ALL our carpet, but we have not regretted it once! If a child walks across the house with muddy shoes on, no big deal! If they spill something, get sick and throw up, or make any other mess it’s super fast and easy to clean up!
We also have a (fake) leather couch for the same reasons.
I know this is not a practical solution or in the budget for a lot of people to simply replace all their flooring. But maybe keep it in the back of your mind for the next time you remodel a room or if you’re looking to buy a different home.
When buying furniture consider the ease of how it will be cleaned, how well it will hide dirt, and how long it will last with little children.
When we painted our bathroom we rehung our towel hooks lower so our children could reach it and hang up their own towels after bath time.
5. Rules that Keep Your Home Clean-Longer
Don’t let people wear shoes in the house–your floors will stay clean longer.
No eating outside the kitchen! This will keep crumbs and stickiness in one area!
Teach your children to carry their dirty dishes to the sink as soon as they are done eating. This will help keep your kitchen table clear.
Also, teach them to wash their hands immediately after eating so they don’t dirty walls and door handles. Give them a step stool in the bathroom or kitchen so they can reach the sink.
Put a laundry basket in the bathroom (closet or under a sink) for dirty clothes so they aren’t laying on the bathroom floor.
Keep disinfectant wipes handy to quickly and easily clean messy surfaces such as the bathroom counter, walls/light switches, etc.
6. Be Consistent
It’s a never ending battle! Don’t give up! Don’t let the tiny humans win! You will not be able to teach your child to clean in a week. It will take consistency on your part, but in the end it will be worth it.
My last tip for you: Buy a lot of magic erasers!! 😉
Do you have any tips for keeping your home clean with little kids? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!
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