How to keep your house clean when you have kids is one the biggest struggles a mom can face. Children have that special ability to make your freshly cleaned and organized home look like a frat house at the end of the spring semester. Everything is sticky, there are clothes strewn about and enough crumbs on the floor to keep the dog fed for at least a week.
This is the harsh reality of being a parent; you try your best to have a neat home, but you don’t want to spend all your time cleaning and miss out on spending time with the kids. Your house might not look perfect while the kids are living with you, but but there are definitely some steps you can take to make it a look a little better. Read on for some easy tips to control the clutter and chaos.
Make a Playroom
The best thing I ever did was makeover our formal living and dining room into a playroom for my kids. These two rooms run the entire length of our house on one side. Since we didn’t have fancy furniture anyway, we gave it to the kids. We installed a couple of baby gates and drilled it into the kids that all the toys stay in the playroom. Let me repeat that in case you got distracted by a screaming child . . . ALL THE TOYS STAY IN THE PLAYROOM.
Now I know what you are thinking; what if you don’t have empty rooms? Well, then you make one. Preferably on the first floor and close to the kitchen because, let’s face it, that’s where you spend most of your time, right? Do you really need a home office or a spare bedroom? Would the space be used better as something else? There is no rule that says that the rooms in your house need to be used for their original purpose. It’s your house and you have to do what works best for you and your family.
If you are super tight on space, then give the kids a section of the family room. Then, find some way to gate or block it off. The important thing is that the kids have a spot that is exclusively for their stuff. If the toys start to creep into the other parts of the house, remind them that the toys stay in the playroom. If they don’t listen and pick them, they lose the toy for a few days. This tip alone will help you reclaim 90% of your house.
Organize the playroom
Now to tackle the playroom and make it look somewhat decent. You don’t want it to look like a toy store blew up in there, right? So you need to find a simple organization system, preferably one that even a two year old can follow.
Think big bins like this. We used these for the larger toys, like dolls, dress up and Nerf guns. We also had smaller bins for things like matchbox cars, train tracks, doll accessories and other toys that would get lost at the bottom of a big bin. This is the one we had and it held up for almost ten years of daily abuse. Try labeling the bins with words or a picture so everything stays straightened up and where it belongs.
Every single day, the playroom needs to be straightened up. If your kids are like mine, they have about five million toys. If you skip even a day, it becomes overwhelming to try and clean. We would try to make a game of it by playing music and seeing how many songs it took us to finish.
Let the kids help you clean
Again, if you make it a game, you would be amazed how willing your kids are to help you clean the house. Play music and make it a dance party. Or promise them a trip to the park when you are finished.
Kids as young as two or three can dust and straighten pillows on the sofa. A five year can help you unload the dishwasher and start learning how to sweep or vacuum. They might not do a perfect job, but the point is that they are trying and they are learning.
I developed the Evil Mommy chore chart to keep my kids on track. I’m working on a free version for you and will update everyone when it is available, but here are the basics.
Each chore is worth a certain amount of points. Every day, my kids need 100 points to live here and 200 points to play on electronics. For anything above 200 points, they get paid (100 points is equal to one dollar).
I only make them follow the chore chart over the summer. During the school year, I consider school to be their job and I want them to focus on that. However, they are still expected to clean their rooms, make their beds (again, they don’t do it well, but I’m hoping they will learn over time) and put their dirty laundry in the hamper.
During the summer, the chore chart ensures that they don’t sit around all day playing video games. It allows them to earn money they can spend on whatever they want. It also it teaches them a little bit about responsibility and the value of hard work. I promise to share an editable version of the chore chart with you as soon as it is done!
I hope these tips gave you some ideas how to keep your house clean when you have kids!
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