Attempting to keep a clean home with young kids can feel impossible at times. Rest assured, with a few quick adjustments to what a clean home with children actually looks like and a focused game plan, a tidy space isn’t an impossible feat.
Adjusting your Expectations
The immaculate home you were able to maintain before kids may be a thing of the past, and that’s okay.
It’s important, when deciding how to best tackle the task of a clean home with kids, to first decide what your non-negotiables are. Maybe a cluttered kitchen counter doesn’t bother you but stacks of shoes by the front door make you crazy. Or maybe you need to have your dining room table clear and ready for a meal at all times. For some, the living room needs to be ready for company at all times. For others, a tidy entryway is a must.
Determine the zones in your home where you won’t compromise cleanliness and focus your during-the-week energy there. Don’t let the things that nag at you stay undone. Prioritize the messes that keep you up at night. Other areas can wait for deeper cleans during the weekends when you have more time.
Five Ways to Stay Ahead of the Mess
It can be hard to keep up with the mess when there are little ones at home. Baby gear, toys, backpacks, sports gear, books—no matter how many times you put these items away, they end up all over your house. Don’t forget, though, when your kids outgrow their gear, you can sell it with Good Buy Gear and get a return back on gear your kids are no longer using. Don’t let those unused items collect dust. Give them new life in a new home!
Although some chaos is to be expected with children around, it is possible to feel in control of the daily clutter.
Try these five tips for controlling the chaos:
- The One Touch Rule. Melanie Summers, professional organizer and founder of ISpeakOrganized.com, has a daily rule to stay on top of the mess is what she calls “The One Touch Rule.” “When you interact with an item, take the extra 10 seconds or 10 steps to put it away. For example, instead of setting your keys down on the counter and shuffling them around until you forget where they are, put them away immediately. And instead of setting your mail on the table or counter to look at later, open it and file it or recycle it immediately.” The point of this rule is to not have to move things from spot to spot but to put them in the proper spot the first time, enforcing organizational habits from the word go.
- Bins, bins, bins. With kids, the easiest way to keep organized, or, at very least, give the illusion of organization, is to have designated bins for categories of items. These can be decorative wicker bins or whimsical animal-shaped bins, expensive bins or inexpensive bins. Clear plastic tubs with lids may be easiest in the toy room and open bins with handles easier in the living room. By designating certain bins for certain items, you can make cleaning up something the kids can help out with. Have a bin for dolls and one for cars/trucks/things that go. Have bins for shoes (one per kid), one for outdoor gear, one for blankets, one for dress-up items and so on. Label the bins with pictures of items if you have young kids who can’t yet read and words if your kids are older so kids know which items go where. Make a bin for each set of items you don’t want left lying around and cleaning up should be a breeze!
- Have a Catch-All Basket. Leave this basket in the busiest zone of the house, like the kitchen. Any item that can’t be immediately put away when you get home from school or daily errands goes in the bin. At the end of the day, pick up the bin and walk to the living room, putting away items from the bin that belong in there. While in the living room, look for items that don’t belong there and place them in the bin, then go to the bedroom. Repeat this process in every room of the house. Practicing this a few times a week should eliminate excess items accumulating in any one room!
- Engage the Kids in Cleaning. Find small tasks the kids can help with and engage them in that task every time it needs to be completed. Have them put away clean silverware from the dishwasher. Have kids place their clean laundry in the appropriate drawer or hang it in the closet. Have them help take out trash bags. At the end of every play date, set a timer and turn on a fun playlist and have kids sort wayward toys into designated bins. The key here is consistency. Having kids complete these tasks every time they pop up eliminates the need for asking for help or reminding kids to complete a certain job. It becomes part of their routine.
- Schedule a Monthly or Bimonthly Deep Clean. Put a date on the calendar once a month and make it known to all family members. Then block of that day for larger tasks. Have kids collect clothes and shoes that are too small or stained in bins for donation. Check expiration dates on food items and toss ones that are no longer good. Sort through kids’ art projects and school papers and decide what should be stored and what can be tossed. Wipe down walls and shelves. Have kids set aside toys they no longer want and replace batteries on favorite toys that may not be currently working. Designating a specific day for all of these more-involved tasks should help you feel that you have a plan if the stuff starts to take over!
The 15-Minute Nightly Reset
Melanie said that, if she can offer her clients one tip to keep ahead of the chaos on a daily basis, it would be to start performing a 15-minute nightly reset. “Set a timer for 15 minutes and power through your house getting it reset for the next day,” she says.
Use your nightly reset to complete simple but satisfying tasks that will allow you a good night’s sleep and let you wake up feeling ready to tackle the new day. Tasks to include in this evening ritual could be: prepping coffee pods and mugs for the morning, wiping down countertops, making school lunches, loading the dishwasher, clearing off the dining room table, filing away any loose papers or documents and creating your to-do list for the next day. Don’t overthink the tasks and don’t spend more than 15 minutes on them. “Make it a game to see how quickly you can work,” Melanie says. “This practice is a real game changer and gets easier/faster if you do it consistently. Future you will be thankful and less stressed!”
However you decide to tackle the chaos, just remember, your kids will grow up and leave home, and then you’ll have all the time in the world to have an immaculate home. And then you’ll probably miss the chaos!
For more tips from Melanie, follow her on Instagram at www.instagram.com/ispeakorganized