The reality of life with kids is that things get messy. But as a work-from-home mom, I’ve come to realize that I just can’t function or work or be creative in a messy space. I mean, I make messes as I sew and create, but in order to have peace and calm and creativity in my home it needs to be clean. And even when I’m not working, I’m a much more patient and calm mom in a clean space.
I’ve spent the last six years since B was born, working on ways to keep my house clean with kids, and how to strike a balance between crazy clean up mom and out of control clutter. So today I’ve teamed up with Munchkin to share four ways I’ve worked to maintain that balance and keep a tidy home, despite having little kids.
1. Get the kids involved. From pretty much the moment they could start making messes, we’ve tried to teach our children responsibility for those messes. If they make the mess, they clean it up. Of course we’re there to help, but they are responsible for the majority of it. I also almost always try to make it a game — a race to see who can pick up legos the fastest, an assembly line as we pass toys from one person to the next, or see who can toss the most cars into the basket and make it (followed by cheers or “boo’s” depending on if they make it or not). Also, I’m not above a little incentive. There are some chores that are just required of them as part of keeping the family home, like making their bed and putting their clothes in the hamper, but there are a couple of chores like unloading the dishwasher or taking out the trash that earn them a nickel or two.
2. Straighten up every night. Before bed, the boys have to clean up their room and all the legos need to be put away. But after that, Philip and I go around and straighten things as well. Philip does all the dishes, wipes down the counters and sink and starts the dishwasher every night, I sweep or Philip vacuums the kitchen and dining room, and then we straighten up the family room so everything is ready for the next day. Waking up to a clean and straightened house every morning is such a great way to start your day.
3. Give everything a designated spot. There will be a few odds and ends that don’t have a home, but for the most part everything in your house should have a spot. This makes it easy for your kids to learn how to clean up. Cars in one bin, art supplies in another, legos in another (or in 10 bins in our lego-obsessed boys’ case), etc. And do the same for your things — mail in one spot, school papers in another, work projects in another, etc. I used to be a “pile” person, where I’d just stack everything up and pretend it looked clean, but having a spot for everything and then training yourself to just put it away when you’re done with it makes such a difference in the cleanliness of your home, and makes cleanup so quick and easy.
4. Eliminate Odor. There is basically no point to a clean home for me if my house smells bad. And three boys can get pretty stinky! We just recently potty trained Fos, but before that a diaper pail was absolutely essential to keep our house not smelling like a giant diaper all the time. But now with a new baby in our home, we’re back to a million diapers a day, and we still have pull-ups for Fos at night that we put in there. Munchkin’s STEP Diaper Pail is best in class with odor control, with a lavender scented baking soda “puck” that absorbs the odor and keeps our nursery smelling fresh and clean, no matter how many billion diapers we stuff in there — seriously, I forgot how many diapers newborns go through! And even better yet, this diaper pail isn’t a giant eyesore in my beautiful, modern nursery. Its sleek white stainless steel design is modern and pretty, which makes me love it even more . We try to get our boys involved with taking care of the baby on some level, and throwing away his diapers is often top of the list since they love to step on the pedal to open up the pail. So even with a million dirty diapers, it’s easy to keep our house smelling, looking, and feeling clean, all with the help of our kids…and this awesome diaper pail.
Consistency on these four things is key, and the more we do them and involve our kids, the easier it becomes. And I’m such a happier and more productive person with a clean house.
Do you have any more ideas for keep your home clean with kids? Share in the comments!