A clean home with kids; is that statement a joke? Parents, we all have it. The house that our guests see … and the real house. You know: the one with clothes on the floor, toys scattered about, the kids “artwork” everywhere from the walls to the floors. And you know what we have to do to turn the messy house into the fake house. There’s always the closet you pray won’t fly open because of all the junk you’ve stashed in there, or the room that no one can enter. Then there’s my husband’s most hated part — when guests leave and we can’t find anything because it’s been scattered during “Operation Clean Up.” It’s not exactly a fun way to live.
But what if there are some tricks to helping to close the chasm between fake and reality? What if there are ways to maintain order and structure in your house while still allowing the kids to be kids? You may scoff at the notion, but keeping a clean house with messy kids can be done. With a little elbow grease, ingenuity, and good old-fashioned planning in advance, here are a few ways to help bring your “real” a little closer to your ideal. Here’s how to have a clean home with kids:
Adjust Your Notion of Clean or Tidy
This is especially for those A-type moms out there. The ones who, like me, want everything to be perfect when a guest stops by. It won’t be. However, your home can still be perfectly presentable. And lived in. And normal. While living in filth doesn’t constitute normal, there is a lot of room between filth and perfection. Once you get that established in your mind, it makes your goal much more attainable.
Make Cleaning Fun
Little kids love games. They also want to prove what a big boy or big girl they can be, by helping mommy. Why not let them? What’s more, if you add a hint of competition to the game, you can get the slightly older kids to buy into the fun as well. Motivations change along with age, so it may take the promise of a reward or a little treat to get everyone on board with the cleaning up. Whatever method you use, make the kids feel a part of the effort. Try to work with them, not against them.
Purge, Purge and Purge Again
Does anyone else have too much stuff? And we keep buying more stuff. Why is that? If your kids are like mine, there are toys that they haven’t played with or even looked at in months. In fact, the toys got a couple of good plays before they were left to their own devices. How about downsizing, and clearing the shelves? You can even work a lesson in the process. Encourage your children to donate their toys that are in great condition to someone in need, a nearby shelter, or Clothes Less Traveled. Your child will learn to give, and there will be less mess to cause you stress.
Clean Up Daily
This is a part of my problem. Things pile up until I just can’t stand it anymore or, wouldn’t you know it, company is coming over. And thus, the messy kids, clean house problem ensues. Inch by inch, it’s a cinch. If you keep things manageable on an ongoing basis, you won’t have to find a closet to shove it all in, five minutes before your guests arrive. A good rule of thumb is that all toys have to be put away, all laundry must be folded and in drawers, and the dishwasher loaded, every night. You may not always make the mark, but it’s a good goal to have in mind.
Give Everything Its Own Place
Organization and structure help you and the kids as well. They understand where to go to find what they need, and begin to learn how important it is to put things back where they belong. Purchase some containers that are colorful. Maybe you can find something that the kids can decorate. They will be more excited to refill their own personalized bin. Keep in mind, however, this method doesn’t work as well if you have too much stuff (in which case, see the suggestion to purge above.
Remember, Kids Are Kids
Allow them to be just that, and at the same time enjoy your home. Just take a few pointed steps to save your sanity — and theirs — the next time that doorbell rings.