You scrubbed and swept. You hauled and scooped. You stored and folded. And miracle of all miracles, a couple of hours later, the house is clean. Feeling accomplished, you take a load off of your feet. But half an hour later, you don’t even recognize the place. Your clean sanctuary is now a wreck, courtesy of the kids. They play happily, oblivious to it all. Yet you are frustrated and left feeling helpless. How can you get your house clean … and have it stay clean … with kids?
You’re not the first mother to want to throw up her hands and give up on the idea of keeping a tidy home while the little ones run free. But thanks to some ingenuity, creativity and a few good old-fashioned life hacks, there are simple, helpful and even fun ways to keep the house clean with the kids at home.
Make Cleaning Fun
It is amazing how excited kids can get about everyday tasks when an element of fun is added. Kids love to be in charge. It’s especially fun when Mom or Dad is following orders. Why not make your young one the boss of cleaning? Let them reign supreme for 10 minutes. They’ll relish being able to dole out directions and watch you obey. It will be even more fun if there’s a sibling who has to heed their commands. Of course, make sure the King or Queen understands he or she also has to participate to see that their orders are met.
Another idea – you can make a contest out of seeing who can clean up the most items in the least amount of time. Just make sure the kids don’t throw everything in one big pile to win. Merry Maids, a cleaning service, offers several suggestions on their website for keeping your house clean with kids. Among the ideas posted were fun games, including letting your child play professional housekeeper. Kids enjoy roleplaying games. Merry Maids also suggests playing a silly song during clean up time, to morph into a playtime activity.
A reward system is another suggestion. Prizes can range from screen time for TV, tablets or computers to placing stickers on a chore chart next to completed items.
Rules Are Rules
While it would be nice to make every task full of joy, we know that cleaning – and life – just aren’t that way. Sometimes rules are rules. Some structure has to be in place to run a household successfully. Maybe your children are a little older, and this approach would work better for them. Give your children an opportunity and ample time to clean up. Inform them that once they vouch for completing the task, that everything the vacuum cleaner touches is treated as trash. While perhaps a bit abrasive, the method can be effective. They’ll make sure nothing of value is left lying around.
Similarly, you can assign them the chore of having all of their items cleaned up by the end of the night. Fair warning: depending on the age of the children, this may be more work for you than them initially. However, the hope is that eventually they will take the task to heart and it becomes a part of their daily routine.
You can also establish specific playtime rules. Toys and games can be played with at specific times and in specific areas. This will help limit the potential for total house post-cleaning annihilation.
It’s Worth A Shot
There are other noteworthy suggestions for fighting the battle to maintain cleanliness. Organization on your part can be a big help. Make sure that everything has its place. It’s a lot easier to ask a child to put an item back in a previously established location. Large plastic bins and toy chests simplify this task.
Consider downsizing your children’s items. There are probably some toys they don’t play with. Reducing clutter lessens the chance of it ending up littering the newly-cleaned living room.
Another approach is to carve out some space for yourself that will remain clean. Maybe it can be your hidden sanctuary, separate from the kids’ area; somewhere to retreat when the other mess gets overwhelming. This may be more beneficial for your peace of mind than anything else.
Good Housekeeping has a unique and easy suggestion for keeping the floors from getting muddy. Place two doormats at your home’s entryway. That gives each person entering two chances to wipe dirt from their shoes. Floors and carpets can stay cleaner for a longer time. The same article notes that a “right away bin” for laundry can help with the house upkeep and organization in the long run. By having a specific place for uniforms and outfits that will be needed right away, it helps reduce clutter and that frantic night-before frenzy when you’re looking for an item you can’t find.
No home can stay clean all the time. It’s normal to expect some clutter. However, once you’ve taken the time and effort to clean, you want it to stay as clean as possible, for as long as possible. And even though little ones seem to take pleasure in making your home look very “lived in,” you can still take comfort in incorporating a few hacks to keep things tidy.