As we navigate the new normal of having our kids home all.the.time. we must adjust our systems and rhythms for tidying up as well. Keeping a clean house with kids around is no small task. I know I’m not the only one who feels like for every one toy, crumb, or misplaced item I pick up two are placed in its spot. Here are some of my tips for minimizing the daily mess and cleaning as I go.
5 Tips For Keeping A Clean House With Kids
1 // Teach them to pick up as they go
One of my house rules is that we must tidy up one room before we move to another. If we’ve been playing in the living room, we have to straighten it up before moving to the basement. Occasionally we leave toys set up (like our trains) if it’s something elaborate, but all small pieces must be picked up. I believe that modeling is the best tool here. This might take 10 years but every bit helps. I always offer to help the kids clean up their toys when they’re finished playing, but I don’t do it all for them. We sing the “clean up clean up” song as we do it, and I do think that helps Birch understand what’s going on. I’ve noticed he will tidy up a batch of toys (or tupperware!) after he’s splayed it all out on the floor. Mazen knows the only rule for building a fort is that he has to put the couch back together before the day is done, and he’s old enough now to do it by himself.
2 // Have great storage bins and toy zones in your house
This post elaborates on our toy zones. As with any organization project, you must have more storage space than you do things. If you have too many things, you either have to donate some or buy more space! I try not to have our toy bins overflow. Toys do get moved from one zone or room to another, and when things start to overflow, I thin them out and tuck some of the toys away in the boys’ closets. I try to do some toy rotation too, to increase excitement when something “new” comes back out. As I mentioned above, we always pick up one zone before moving to the next. I LOVE these bins from Amazon – they come in a bunch of different designs and colors. They have held up well, and are lightweight enough that they can easily be moved.
3 // Don’t let them carry around food
The number one way to have a disgustingly dirty house is to let kids wander around with sticky, buttery hands and drip food all over. I have a firm rule that my kids sit down while they eat. Occasionally I break my own rule and will let Birch have a dry food like cereal in a cup and I will find Cheerios for weeks. It only takes one grease stain on the couch to ruin it forever. Despite the rule, Mazen has ruined the arm of our couch closed to the dining room table. It killlllls me. I try to contain the grease as well as I can.
4 // Get a cordless vacuum
Remember Dustbusters?! The first generation of cordless vacuums. When I think of the sound of my childhood, I can see my mom on her hands and knees dustbusting the house. Mom used to dust bust crumbs all.the.time. We are lucky cordless has evolved to high-power vacuums that you can stand up to usse. The Dyson Cordless Absolute vacuum I have will give you total sticker shock, but it gets used multiple times a day, everyday. Whether it’s crumbs under the high chair or grass tracked in from Mazen and Gus, there is always something to suck up. I love how fast it is to bring out, and I can do my whole main floor in about 3 minutes.
5 // Define some systems so you don’t get behind
Here are some of mine:
- We run the dishwasher nearly every evening, and emptying it is the first thing I do when I get up while Birch is in his high chair having breakfast
- We do one load of laundry per person per week. I usually don’t mix people’s clothes because it makes sorting and putting away much faster.
- The kitchen counters and floors get wiped/vacuumed at the very least each evening before we close the kitchen and start the dishwasher. Usually this vacuum involves our whole kitchen + living area. The bedrooms and family room don’t track in that much floor dirt so we do those much less often.
- Bed linens and towels get changed and washed once a week, usually on Mondays
- Floors get mopped once a week, usually on Sundays
My cleaning lady is literally the best money I spend all month. She is a cleaning dream team and gets gunk out of cracks and brings a high power vacuum that gets everything I can’t with my daily cleans. Until recently, she took care of most of the deeper cleans. While we’re all on quarantine, she’s not coming to our house, and we’re doing the cleaning ourselves. It sure makes me appreciate her that much more! I will have to figure out some new systems for the deeper cleans for the time being. More on that soon!
Look at that sweet post-nap boy!
Bonus: get a dog!
Gus licks up almost all of the food that Birch drops off his high chair. Game changer!