There seems to be no more difficult or challenging of an endeavor than that of keeping a tidy home when you have small children present. But I am here to tell you that it can be done.
Perhaps you’re like me and the smell of bleach is like Grandma’s apple pie to your soul. Or perhaps the sight of an empty laundry basket, albeit briefly, sets your heart aflutter, and makes you feel like, yes, everything is alright with the world.
If you’re anything like me, and you feel like Magic Eraser is the best invention ever, then you’ll appreciate these simple tips I’ve learned over the years for maintaining my home despite my raucous offspring.
1. Clean while they’re asleep. Well this is just brilliant. I am certain this advice was devised by someone with multiple children, and I’ll bet she’s in her late thirties just like me. After all what mother wouldn’t jump at the chance to get up early and clean?
I suggest setting an alarm since you might be unable to wake on your own after being woken repeatedly during the night by a sick and/or teething baby. Just remember sleep deprivation makes you look more youthful.
Don’t worry that the vacuum or dryer may wake the children. If it does kids are great at being woken before they’re ready, and this will make for a pleasant, relaxing day with a non-cranky kiddo.
2. Let them help. Is there anything cuter than a toddler carrying around a Swiffer duster? It’s probably only rivaled by those sweet moments when they dip the duster in the commode and proceed to wet mop the furniture.
And is there any prouder moment than when you see the flood of soapy water in your kitchen floor after the preschooler finishes washing dishes?
3. Have them clean. If you’re going to let them help then why not give them full responsibility for their mess. When faced with the overwhelming task of a destroyed home and the unending responsibilities of your housework it’s always a good time to think about teaching life lessons to your young, and mentoring eager minds to the appreciation of cleanliness.
Kids are great at picking up their messes, and really only need a gentle nudge in the right direction. They are not distracted easily, never whine over the insurmountable job of cleaning their room, and seldom spend more time playing than cleaning.
4. Offer a snack. I find it extremely pleasurable to try and distract my children with food while I clean. After all you’re already washing dishes so what’s a few more?
I like to give popcorn, or really any kind of easily crushable cracker. A bright red juice is always a good choice as small children very rarely make spills.
5. Distract them with an activity. Oh yes. This always works. You will not spend more time setting up the craft than you do performing actual housework, and clean up afterwards is a cinch.
You can just put them on autopilot really. Kids do excellent with glue and scissors unsupervised.
I also like to give mine play doh. They very rarely drop thousands of tiny balls of it into the floor, and typically do not track it throughout the house.
6. Send them outside. This is probably one of my favorites. It’s a great opportunity for kids to get plenty of fresh air in those two minutes and thirty seconds before they’re begging to come back inside to use the bathroom or get a drink of water.
Mopping is so easy when kids are outside because they rarely track dirt and leaves across your clean floor the moment you finish.
I find mine don’t usually get completely filthy while outdoors to the point that I have to strip them naked on the back steps and add muddy clothing to the ever growing pile of dirty laundry. They also probably won’t need an immediate bath before touching anything.
7. Television. This is really a last ditch effort for me. I usually abstain from using the TV as a baby sitter while I do chores. My children do not know every single line and song to the movie Frozen, and I don’t play it over and over to keep them occupied.
Well there you have it. Just remember sometimes, just occasionally, people who do not have children or who have had an empty nest for twenty years and who might have forgotten that the struggle is real will tell you not to worry about cleaning. They might mention something about the importance of spending time with your babies before they’re all grown. You will have never thought of this.
I usually don’t grit my teeth knowingly while wondering if they’ve actually smelled the odor coming from my fridge.
As a rehabilitated clean freak I am pretty comfortable with the chaos of no counter space and toys everywhere. I don’t usually feel like I’m suffocating in the mess or that I might have a mental breakdown if I have to pick up one more pair of discarded shoes.
But every once and a while I feel like I might should pick up a few little things here and there, and in those rare moments where I feel like I must clean I find these seven, simple tips work like a charm.