Sometimes it feels impossible to keep a clean house with kids.
"How did this house get so messy?”
I've said these words about 150 thousand times.
Honestly, with 3 kids ages 6 and under... keeping it clean feels impossible! I've searched and scoured to find cleaning hacks that would help my house get clean and stay clean.
But every time I type "cleaning hacks" into pinterest, it returns a whole host of results fit only for OCD cleaners.. (How to clean the tiny crevice between the wall and the baseboard) Umm... yeah..no.
I was looking for something more like (How to fake a clean house in the 30 seconds between the doorbell ringing and you answering it...)
What I'm saying is: I needed tricks that would HONESTLY work like magic.
It's taken me a while, but I've finally realized that there are some things I can do to keep my house looking and feeling clean most of the time.
These tips below aren't going to focus necessarily how to get your house clean, but rather how to keep it that way day in and day out.
#1 THROW EVERYTHING AWAY.
Well okay maybe not everything... BUT VERY SERIOUSLY CONSIDER whether they really NEED that toy. We have this idea that toys keep our children busy. But if you're honest with yourself, how long did he really play with that walking puppy toy? If the answer isn't EVERYDAY since we got it, then put in the the pile for Goodwill. That toy isn't keeping him busy, it's keeping you busy. As I work to clean and purge our playroom I've determined to keep only a handful of toys. I plan to stick to toys that entertain for long periods of time and require no batteries, like legos, barbies, and trains!
PS - Don't stop in the toy room! Clean out every room of your house... you will thank yourself later! Just remember, because kids especially tend to collect things, you'll have to purge regularly (but the first one's the worst, I promise!)
#2 HIDE ALL OF THE TOYS
So I'm actually serious about this one! In our home, we have a closet where we keep toys with small pieces in their own storage containers.
The only toys that are freely accessible are a few favorites and standalone toys (Like a couple baby dolls and a play kitchen). But in order to get the food for the play kitchen, they have to ask for it.
This is a great way to make sure the mess on the floor doesn't get too overwhelming. Just be aware that sometimes kids forget about things when they are out of sight, so you may have to purposely pull toys down to be played with once in a while.
#3 PICK ONE AREA OF THE HOUSE AND BE MEAN ABOUT IT
Sometimes, The bad habits our kids have are just an extension of our own bad habits. Figure out which room in the house is the MOST important to you and leaves you feeling the most overwhelmed and frustrated. Then clean it until you're fingers hurt (or at least until you feel satisfied with its appearance and feel). NOW HERE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS STEP... be ridiculously strict about this room for a month! Don't let anyone drop their junk, leave their trash, forget a toy, or spill their drink. Once you've trained them to keep this room pristine... move on to the next most important room until cleanliness in the whole house becomes a habit!
#4 Make a list of 10 minute tasks.
Make a short list of things you can accomplish in ten minute time spans. Simple things that have to be done each day in order to keep your house feeling clean. The more specific the better.
Don't think "laundry", think "Clear off the kitchen counter." Even better if you can fit 3 or four of these tasks in a 10 minute time span.
Then set yourself 3-4 alarms each day to do a 10 minute task/tidy.
I like to set an alarm for first thing in the morning, right after lunch, right after dinner, and just before bed.
For me, that means that everyday my bed gets made, the counters are cleared, the floors are swept, the dishes are done and the table and sinks are wiped down.
I can fit all of those tasks in just a few quick cleaning sprints each day.
#5 GIVE YOUR KIDS CHORES
Before you fast scroll right by this one... think about this... It's true that kids (especially little ones) don't make much progress when they are doing chores.
But if you spend an hour cleaning the floor with your child instead of 10 minutes cleaning it without them, you've just spent an entire hour of REALLY quality time with your child teaching them a lifeskill that will benefit both of you in the future.
Also, you won't have to clean up the mess the would have inevitably made in the living room while you were working in the kitchen.
#6 MAKE CLEAN UP A GAME
Kids will do anything if they think it's fun. So instead of saying, clean up your toys, say I bet you I can clean up the dinosaurs faster than you can.
Or if you have more than one kid, this can be even easier. Child A You clean up the dinos, child b you clean up the hot wheels. First one done gets two high fives! On you mark...
This works like a charm for us everytime.
#7 Get a new game plan for your laundry.
I absolutely refuse to fold our laundry. Because within a day, its in a messy heap inside my children's drawers again. I try to be very careful with my time and I've determined that having folded laundry is a time waster, a big one.
Instead, we have several of these baskets for each child and we simply sort the clothes as the come out of the dryer. We are working on a shelving unit for our laundry area that will house everyone's clothes. THIS IS WHERE WE GOT THE IDEA.
#8 DON'T HANG OUT IN THE HOUSE
Try to get out of the house for a good portion of each day, if it's too cold or wet to play outside, try taking them to a Library, store or Mall. Have a treasure hunt, dawdle down the toy aisles, visit story time.
If you're lucky enough to live close to children's museums, get a membership that will allow you to visit regularly! Any way you look at it, less time in the house, will create less mess in the house and will cause your children to be calmer when they are home.
#9 NEVER WALK PAST A PIECE OF TRASH
I used to work with an older lady in a preschool room. I noticed that she absolutely never walked by something that was out of place. If it was a piece of trash, she stooped to pick it up immediately.
With three little one's I had learned to drown out the mess a little bit. But after spending some time and watching her do this, I realized that it was a habit I also needed to build.
It has taken quite some time and I usually still ignore the toys. But if I walk by a piece of trash, I stoop to get it instantly. I also try to be aware of (and pick up) cups, clothes, shoes, etc.
Doing this "as-you-go" will make everyday cleaning a lot easier and keep your home feeling tidy most of the time.
#10 STOP RUSHING
I know this one is easier said than done. But the truth is that all that all that rushing around, leaves a mess in its wake. Instead of trying to make time to do a 15 minute tidy that doesn't really leave the house feeling clean, plan clean up as though it's a scheduled activity.
And don't hurry, even older kids will help if you do it together and talk with them about something they enjoy! By doing this, you are teaching your children to clean AND to have a cheerful heart about it. Not to mention the educational value!
While cleaning, you can teach you're little ones about colors, or categorizing (adults call this organizing), and you could teach your older ones some of those crazy pinterest tricks we talked about! Mixing baking soda and vinegar is like a science experiment for them.
As you can see, most of these tricks have nothing to do with actually cleaning but rather help you maintain what you've already cleaned! I hope they help you! But if you are looking for a simple weekly cleaning schedule, You can click the image above to grab one.
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