How Do You Maintain a Tidy House with Kids?
You don’t! Pahahahahha. But seriously, this topic has been quite a challenge for me. Thankfully, I’ve learned some tips over the past 7 years of parenting.
Cleaning your house can seem like such a daunting task.
I read somewhere that a cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind. Clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli which distracts us and pulls s away from what our focus should be on. That makes so much sense! Clutter stresses me out and makes me feel like I have ADHD because I’m so over-stimulated with endless to do lists, things to clean, and children asking me for things every 5 seconds.
I wanted to share some tips that have saved my sanity time and time again. Before I start, I want to clarify that I did say tidy, not clean. My home is far from perfect, but I’m not gatekeeping these fabulous tips from you all because they have made a huge difference in my life.
Tips for parents to help keep your home tidy with kids:
1) Declutter: This was SO HARD for me in the beginning. My mind set was that everything has a reason and a purpose. “I can use this one day.” It took me a long time to jump on this band wagon. Even when Marie Kondo on Netflix was popular and everyone was saying “Does this bring you joy?” I was not buying into it.
Let me tell you something. I was wrong. Decluttering is SOO FREEING. I have been having these “nesting” episodes at least once a month where I start making piles such as “good will,” “give to a friend,” “bring it to work,” and “throw it away.” This has helped me TREMENDOUSLY and I cannot recommend decluttering enough. It really helps to stay organized, decrease stress, and increase happiness in my opinion. Even my husband gets excited when I go into my decluttering mode.
2) Limit What you Bring In: This speaks for itself, but it’s an important factor in order to prevent the clutter.
3) Discard & File Children’s Art: Now, I’ll probably get some push back on this one, but you don’t have to keep every single scribble that your toddler draws on. I did as a new mom of course, which had me drowning in artwork. Now, I have a container for each child with a folder for each age/grade. I keep the most important items in this bin for each year. Sometimes we display things art but often it goes straight into the bin. This has been a huge mom hack for me for sure. You can find these types at Office Depot, Target, Walmart, and more.
4) Keep Those Kids Outside! I have two young boys, ages six and three. My kids are wild and they make a mess. One solution is to keep them outside. Let them play in the sand, swing on the swings, play kickball and catch, etc. When we are outside, the kids are free to be wild, we are keeping them away from screens, they are getting their energy out, and they are not making my house a mess.
5) The Bin Method: I’ve seen other people do this really well. They switch out toys once a month or however often to keep the children interested. This also prevents the overwhelm of too many toys for their little brains and helpful for momma too.
Tips to get the kids to tidy up:
1) Routine: I highly recommend a morning routine and a bedtime routine. They work. For example, if you randomly ask a child to clean their room, they may say “aw, I don’t want to.” However, if the child cleans their room every night before bed, then it’s just a habit. It’s a routine that is not a big deal or a fight. Maybe an order child cleans their room on Friday afternoons because they know they have to clean their room before going to a friend’s house. This is also a part of setting expectations. We don’t always follow a routine, but our life is so much smoother when we do.
2) Visual Schedule: My children thrive on a visual schedule. It includes basic tasks such as homework, play outside, dinner, baths, read, brush teeth, bed. We look at the schedule to see what we have completed and if we forgot anything or what comes next. This creates the idea that these are the rules and it decreases the frustration and battle of I don’t want to do it. It also decreases Mommy having to repeat herself a million times. This can be interactive where they help decide the routine and velcro the pieces on. Visual schedules can be found on Amazon here. Or you can just print it out at home and make one with cardboard, scissors, paper, and Velcro/tape.
3) Ask Nicely: When my three year old was two, he was in the no phase. It was an automatic no without even processing the question. He’s learning that he has rights and feelings and emotions that matter and he has some control over what he wants to do. If I look him in the eyes and ask nicely with my sweet eyes, then he smiles and says ‘oh, yes!’ and proceeds to do the task that I have asked of him. When that doesn’t work, I make it fun with intonation and excitement in my voice. Instead of “let’s go take a bath,” I might say “Let’s go play car wash in the tub. We’re going to clean our cars and clean our bodies.”
4) Beat the Clock: Before baths, try the beat the clock game to see if we can clean up our toys in a set amount of time to get a sticker. Some people say a minute per year of life. So a 3 year old could have a 3 minute timer.
5) Clean up Prize: Of course you can do sticker charts or rewards, however, there is a unique twist to this game. Mom picks a specific toy. Whoever picks up that specific toy is the winner. This puts a fun spin on clean up time.