There’s one thing we can all agree is the worst when it comes to having kids: cleanliness. There’s no denying that children can be messy – first, it’s diaper changes, then it’s food messes, and then there are toys all over the place. With the demands of parenthood sapping your time and energy, sometimes it seems like a tidy house can’t coexist with kids.
Luckily, that isn’t true. Keeping and maintaining a clean house with kids is certainly a challenge, but hard challenges simply require creative solutions. Yes, your kids are going to turn both your world and your house upside down. But preparing for the worst with these cleaning tips can make home feel like home – without all the germs.
Keep the mess contained
Toys in the kitchen, food on the carpet, clothes in the living room. Does this sound like a normal day? The key to managing your mess is to keep it contained to certain areas of the house. That way, you know what to expect when you enter certain rooms – and you can prevent carpet stains, nasty smells, and other disasters from disrupting your peace of mind.
So, how do you contain the mess? It helps to be clear about what object goes where. Keeping toys in certain bins helps clean up the floor faster, and even better, only keeping toys in their room or playpen can push all the floor clean-up into one space. You’ll find that it’s much easier to clean up your house when you aren’t combing every square inch of your floor!
Bins and baskets are especially great because you can help teach your kids to clean up after themselves. Having a bin designated for toys, stuffed animals, legos, etc. can help remind them to put toys away after they’re done. If they can’t read yet, putting a photo of what goes in the bin alongside the word it represents can be a great teaching experience!
Lastly, having some extra cubbies or a junk drawer, for all the miscellaneous items kids like can help you keep track of where everything is. If it doesn’t show up on the floor or in one of the bins then it’s likely to be in there.
Purge what you own
Sometimes, the best way to clean is to get rid of what makes it dirty. Kids collect a lot of junk, and they also outgrow clothes regularly. In a couple of months, your house can go from neat and organized to massive junk drawers, even with cubbies and bins for all.
Don’t feel pressured to “spring clean” all at once. Going one room, one cabinet, even one shelf at a time will make this project a lot less stressful, and you might throw out the wrong stuff if you force yourself to do five-hour blocks of cleaning. Also, beware of birthdays and gift-giving holidays. When gifts enter their lives, be sure you have a plan in place to make space for the new and get rid of the old.
Have a “reset day”
Cleaning can get pretty intensive, and while you certainly need to put in the work, you don’t want it to sap all of your energy. After all, a clean home should invigorate you, not wear you down. Designating a day of the week to “reset” can make cleaning feel fun while also making your home easier to maintain.
What does resetting mean? Let’s say your “reset day” is Sunday. For you, this is the day of deep cleaning. Whatever you can’t get done regularly, do it Sunday: whether it’s vacuuming the floors, scrubbing the bathroom, tidying the kitchen, or whatever else gets left behind during the week, designating a day to get it done means you’re more likely to actually do it. Plus, cleaning for the rest of the week can be a lot less stressful – just clean as you go, and if you find time to vacuum or do a different chore you’ve been putting off, go for it!
One thing you can do on your reset day is spend extra time teaching your kids how to clean up. After all, it’s their day to reset too, so “working alongside them” as they pick up their floor and put things away can help instill a routine and teach them the basics of chores.
Remember to do laundry
If you don’t have kids yet, be warned: the laundry piles up fast. Extra bodies mean extra clothes and your children could easily be going through two or three outfits a day.
If you aren’t prepared, extra clothes means extra clutter. The key is to work out a consistent schedule: many families do laundry every three or four days, that way they get to the dirty clothes before they start overflowing. Shirts and pants and socks can end up everywhere on the floor, causing a stink that takes days to get rid of, so maintaining a consistent laundry schedule can save you tons of work later.
Pro tip: toddlers, for whatever reason, love to pick up bins and dump their content all over the place. Be sure to keep clothes hampers secure and/or out of reach!
Use the right cleaning products
So much of the cleaning hassle comes from using the wrong products. Let’s be honest: vacuums are clunky, mops are gross, and rags get dirty quickly, not to mention that the effective cleaning products are often harmful to have around children.
The good news is, there are a lot of great options out there to reduce the physical duress of cleaning. Swiffer dusters are a great replacement for feather duster, newer vacuums are a lot less clumsy and difficult and even mops are becoming more user-friendly. As for cleaning chemicals, it’s best to keep them out of reach and clearly labeled to avoid any incidents.
Find the right place to live
Often, new parents realize they have a lot less space than they thought, and their homes get cluttered a lot quicker than anticipated.
Save yourself the trouble, and make sure you can accommodate all the needs your family might encounter. Hey, this might even be an opportunity to move to a new city and start your dream home. If that’s the case, check out beycome.com for the best places to raise a family in the United States.
Lastly, learn to accept that your family life will always be a little messy. If anything, that’s great! A “perfect” household can be stifling, and you want to ensure that your kids have room to play, grow, and make messes, without getting hurt in the process.