Someone once famously said, “Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”
No one can deny that trying to keep a tidy house with the pitter-patter of little feet running amuck feels like a hopeless dream. In 2019 64.2% of married-couple households had both parents employed full-time, which means less man (or woman) power for cleaning the house and keeping things organized.
But in spite of the time-eating monsters created by our jobs and trying to rear our children, can you still keep things clean? Yes, and we will tell you how. Here are 10 tips on how to keep your house clean with kids.
1. Teach Kids That Cleaning Can Be Fun
“If you keep rolling your eyes like that, they will get stuck one day!” Many parents have warned their kids between dramatic sighs and groans about the “consequences” of displaying a bad attitude when told to make their bed. So how do you turn that around and have your children WANT to participate in chores?
Many have found that making a game out of it increases the likelihood that kids will want to participate. And you can go in any direction to make it fun.
For example, offer your kids a little prize at the completion of the chore (such as a small candy or a trip to McDonald’s). Make it a timed game (without sacrificing quality) to see who can finish first. Or extend a privilege if they are consistent with a chore (for example, ‘If you make your bed before breakfast every day this week, you can have an extra 30 minutes of video game time.’)
In other words, give them something to look forward to. Kids love to play, and incorporating household tasks into their games makes it easier on you and fun for them.
2. Build Good Habits
Let’s face it. We are ALL busy. And there does not seem to be enough hours in the day to keep up with your little ones while maintaining a clean home. But part of the struggle can go beyond knowing how to clean with toddlers and be more about your daily routine.
For example, instead of leaving dishes piled in the sink, make it a goal to clean them after every meal. Or at the end of every day, do a quick sweep of the house and pick up stray objects left out. When you’re done brushing your teeth, do a quick wipe down of the sink and faucet.
And if you have a problem remembering these things, write down reminders in a place you check every day (like a calendar). Keep yourself accountable and consistent, and soon you will be maintaining a healthy balance of cleanliness and routine.
3. Get Rid of Unnecessary Clutter
When you were childless and fancy-free, you had the time to dust off all the little knickknacks you had collected on your dresser. But now, those little items throughout the house have become nothing but dust collectors and potential toys that can get in the way.
The solution? GET RID OF THEM. Or at the very least, put them in storage or give them to charity. Why?
A house that has every open space spoken for can look extremely untidy, even if it is technically clean. Clear and open spaces create a feeling of organization and are much easier to clean quickly. And instead of watching your dust bunnies create dust bunny families and neighborhoods, you can tidy up and put things away in a much more efficient manner.
4. Invest in a Babysitter
If you are still having a hard time keeping up with housecleaning, especially those deep-cleaning projects, it might be a good idea to look into a babysitter. Even being able to have two to three hours on hand to complete a task can give you the valuable time you need to focus and not get distracted or upset by (literal) spilled milk.
5. Make a Schedule
First, prioritize what you want to clean and how often. Make a list of what your home specifically needs to have done on a weekly and monthly basis.
Then, set out a realistic schedule for the month. Outline the chores in bright colors, and enlist other family members to help. Assign your children simple tasks like folding laundry or taking out the recycling. And display your calendar somewhere visible to everyone, like on your fridge.
6. Teach Your Children to Pick Up After Themselves
Kids need to know that every minute of every day is not constant playtime. Not only does a consistent routine help them learn how to be responsible, but setting a limit on just how far out their play area extends will establish much-needed parameters.
So, when your kids are finished playing with their toys in one room, before they move on to the next, have them pick up their toys and put them away. This may require vigilance on your part from time to time, ensuring that they get the job done, but will help them build a useful habit.
7. Don’t Expect Perfection
This might seem to go without saying, but do not expect things to be perfect or the way they were in the pre-kids era. Don’t even look back at that time — those days, as you know it, are officially over.
Instead, embrace your role as a parent and realize that kids will be kids. Not everything is going to look like it jumped off the pages of Good Housekeeping Magazine — and you know what? THAT’S OK.
8. Research Organization Methods and Use Them
There are tons of helpful tips out there on different organizational products you can get to keep your house in working order. Bins, baskets, expandable drawers — these are all things hardworking parents utilize to organize what they have.
And if you’re not sure where to start, no worries. Ever heard of Google? Pinterest? Do a simple search online for some useful tips, and let the good (and organized) times roll.
9. Evaluate Your Kids Toys
A major source of frustration with parents is the sheer volume of toys and things their kids have that they don’t play with anymore. Instead of getting frustrated and shoving unused toys into the back of the closet, you can use this time to teach your kids the power of giving.
Every once in a while — putting a reminder in your calendar every six months or so — go through the toys your kids don’t play with anymore. Teach them the value of giving to others by getting them to assist you in choosing what they would like to donate to charity. Then, you will be teaching them how to be selfless and caring while keeping the mountain of toys down to a minimum.
10. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Do you know some other parents that seem to have the clean house thing figured out? Don’t be afraid to ask what works for them.
And another great source of help can be hiring a great house cleaning service to keep up with the major cleaning. Finding someone reputable and reliable will go a long way in keeping yourself sane and your home clean.
It’s Possible to Learn How to Keep Your House Clean
The pitter-patter of little feet does not have to mean total chaos. Stay motivated, and don’t give in to frustration. It takes a lot of work to keep a tidy house with children, but well worth the effort.
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