Keeping a house clean when you have kids, especially young toddlers, is no easy tasks. I’m certainly not an expert, you should see my house. But over time I’ve been able to figure out what works for helping to keep the house relatively clean. You know, as clean as can be expected when you have a kid (or two) who makes messes right behind you as you clean.
Keep in mind these tips aren’t rules. Take what works for you and leave the rest! But these are my best tips for attempting to control the mess and keeping a clean house with toddlers.
Don’t buy toys
If your kids are lucky like mine, you don’t need to buy any toys. They get plenty from friends and family during holidays and birthdays. Somehow they end up with more without you even having to spend any money, right? So just stop buying toys.
My husband and I have never been one for buying our kids something whenever we go to the store. From the beginning my kids have learned that if we do end up in the toy aisle, they usually get to look at a few toys and then we say “bye bye” and let them know that they can visit the toy another time.
If your kids are older and that doesn’t work I like to also offer to take a photo of the toy so we can keep it in mind for special occasions like birthdays or Chirstmas.
My weakness is that I thrift for a living (I’m a reseller) and I find stuff so cheap and that’s when I end up buying stuff.
What I’ve started to do when I’m alone and I see something I want for one of the kids for a price that’s so ridiculous it’s practically free I ask myself a few questions: “Does he/she need another toy?” “Does this toy have the potential to become an absolute favorite toy?” “Is bringing this toy home worth me picking it up 34 times a day?” More often than not asking myself a few questions leads me to put that toy down.
I also remind myself that if my kids aren’t with me they don’t even know that toy exists and they aren’t missing out so there’s no need to feel any guilt.
Simply put: put the toy down and walk away! Teach your kids to do the same.
Ask others not to buy toys
Toys are honestly the biggest problem for most houses with kids. We try to strive to be somewhat minimalist, but somehow we still have plenty. When our kids were younger we asked for no gifts on a few occasions. Now that my son is 4 we’ve seen how much he loves getting presents so we no longer do that, but in return we use our own self control and don’t buy him much ourselves to make up for all the presents.
You don’t have to go as far as asking for no gifts, maybe just ask for experience gifts or say “no gift necessary” so maybe a few people will opt out.
If you have a lot of toys and you don’t necessarily want to whittle it down to a tiny amount, try a toy rotation. I’ve actually watched videos on this and some people just make it so complicated! Keep it simple. Grab a bin or two, throw some toys in and put it in a closet or in the garage. When you see the kids getting bored with some toys, pull it out and have them trade in some of their toys for “new ones”. Done and done. No need to do an official rotation schedule where you pull out specific bins every week. No one has time for complicated, we’re trying to just get by!
Toys with lots of pieces get checked out
Last one about toys, promise. You know what it’s like when you walk into your kids play area and everything has been dumped out of their containers. Try keeping anything that can be dumped like blocks or legos somewhere else so your kids can’t just go through dumping everything.
We really encourage freeplay with creative materials like legos or blocks, so we do like to leave some out. But if you have more than one or two sets of toys with multiple pieces (like more than 10 pieces) try keeping a few in a closet so they can’t all be dumped out at once. What is it with kids and just dumping out a bin and walking away?
No messy snacks (crumbs are the worst!)
Ban any snacks that leave crumbs everywhere. I hate crumbs! They stick to your feet and just get everywhere. If my kids are eating anything that might leave crumbs I insist they eat them at the table so that they can easily be cleaned up and at least the crumbs are contained to one area.
Having less will surely help you keep the house cleaner. Less to clean up. Less to clean around. Less time managing a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter to you anyway.
I love decluttering, but it can be hard to find the time to spend hours going through your stuff. If you need to just go crazy on one section of your house for however much time you have. I don’t care if it’s 5 minutes or an hour, I’m sure you can find stuff to toss or donate and every item you remove is one less item you’re managing.
Try creating a schedule to declutter! Most of us don’t have time to do a major declutter regularly, but maybe you can just put aside 20 minutes after breakfast on Saturdays when you pick one category or area that’s been bugging you and you declutter it.
Have a mudroom (or drop station)
Not all of us have a specific mudroom, but having an area by the doors that the kids come in from outside where they can drop their dirty clothes/shoes and clean up a bit can help keep from tracking dirt inside.
Some ideas are just a simple coat rack hanging on the wall and a mat by the door where they can take off their shoes and coat.
No shoes in the house
Shoes just bring in dirt and all the germs from outside. So try banning shoes from your house. Like I said above, a simple mat or somewhere for everyone in your family to drop their shoes would be sufficient for most of us. We have a shoe cabinet similar to this that screws to the wall and takes up very little space.
My daughter LOVES shoes so we have some little booties she can wear inside if she really insists on wearing shoes.
Let them help to develop good habits
I know, I know. Letting them help doesn’t really feel like them helping, does it? It takes WAY longer when your toddler “helps” and it’s so much faster to do it yourself. But by letting them help you’re helping them create good habits. Sure it might take them way longer to spray mop the floor and they might miss half of the floor, but letting them help with chores helps them get into the routine of helping with chores.
Making sure they help you when you’re cleaning up their messes will eventually lead to them cleaning up their messes on their own because that’s just what they’re used to.
Musical clean up parties
We love music at our house! So when it’s time to clean up we often throw on some music and race to see how fast we can clean up. Or we simply sing the clean up song. I was a Barney kid growing up so I’ll never forget it. This makes cleaning up fun and feel like less of a punishment. Plus, I find that if I’m singing the clean up song or listening to music I’m less likely to be annoyed that we’re cleaning up AGAIN and that shows the kids that cleaning up isn’t a negative thing.
Get a dog (just kidding, maybe)
Our floor is forever clear of crumbs because we have dogs! I mean, don’t just get a dog for that if you don’t like dogs. There’s a lot more that comes with dogs (like cleaning up dog hair), but whenever I was at my sisters house and I saw the crumbs on the floor from her toddler I realized “Hey, that’s not a problem we have! The dogs take care of that!”
Ok but seriously, I’m not telling you to get a dog just to clean up your kids crumbs. Get a dog if you’re ready to love it as part of your family for their entire lifetime. The crumb clean up is just a bonus!
15 Minute Cleaning Sprees
This is my favorite cleaning tip for anyone who is busy. I just set a timer for 15 minutes, pick an area I need to work on and get crazy. I get so much more done when I give myself a limited amount of time and a timer. There’s no time to pause or get distracted. It forces you to just get it done! Seriously, try it.
Alright those are my best tips for keeping your house clean with kids. If you have any tips I’d love to hear them too!
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