Stay at Home Mom

5 Hacks to Keep a Clean Home With Kids Who Love Messes

Inside: My all-time favorite ways to keep a tidy home even if your kids love to make messes. A huge thank you to Ruggable for sponsoring this post and sending a rug for review.

A friend came over last week with her two year-old and infant. Over and over again she said to her toddler daughter, “See! This is why we can’t have a nice home.”

Her daughter was banging on the table (totally harmless to me) and opening drawers and pulling out a few toys. Neither of her kids made a fuss or a cry, and personally, I thought they were behaving quite well.

I think often times as parents we get stuck in our own heads about how perfect things should be. I blame Pinterest.

How to keep clean house with kids who love messes.

Parenting in this modern world can feel a lot like living on a deserted island. The weight of the world is on your shoulders, and you miss the village. You’re the maid, the taxi driver, the sport director, the parent, the life coach, the chef and more.

How to keep a clean home with small children

Here’s the good news:

Keeping a tidy and nice looking home while you’re raising kids doesn’t have to be hard. It’s all about developing routines, using systems and embracing decor that will serve YOU.

1. Minimize what is available.

You can’t make a mess out of something that isn’t there. We live in a world where we are encouraged to buy one thing after the next. I take more of a minimalist approach.

Here are three focused ideas to try:

  • Keep a capsule wardrobe for both you and the kids. This is where your wardrobe contains a few essential and timeless items that all coordinate together. Less laundry, less overstuffed drawers and much less time spent contemplating what to wear for the day.
  • Keep the toys minimized to what the kids actually play with – you can easily eyeball it for one week. Then, put the rest up away in a closet. This is like toy rotation, and you can keep the toys up and away until the kids ask for them OR you can swap them out every few months.
  • Clean out the pantry and kitchen items to what you’re using. The kitchen is one of the most frequented rooms in the home. Paring down what’s there will help keep the counters clean and tidy, as well as minimizing the amount of time standing in front of the pantry wondering what to eat.

2. Put a “tidy kit” within a child’s reach.

The kids cannot help out if things are not at their level. So for example, keeping a set of plates, bowls and cups in a lower kitchen drawer can make it easy for the kids to set the table and put dishes away.

Another example is clothes: Keeping the kids’ most frequently worn items in the lower dresser drawers helps them put away their own clothes and pick out their clothes and pajamas during the morning or bedtime routine.

Likewise, keeping cloths and a handheld vacuum in easy reach allows kids to help tidy the home alongside you. If something is hard to reach for kids, look into step stools that make it a no brainer for them to complete a task.

3. Chose items that are washable, easy-to-maintain.

Keeping furniture, rugs and curtains in the house that are not durable for family life makes for a lot of frustration. You can have nice things; they just need to be things that hold up well with kids!

A living room filled with furniture and a large window

One great example of this is our Ruggable area rug in the living room. Before I had Ruggable, I had an area rug that looked dingy from the kids playing or spilling things (despite avoiding shoes in the house and trying our best to keep food and drink at the table only).

I’d get the carpet cleaner out and spend wayyyy too much time scrubbing for little improvement. Too much work and too high of expectations that the kids would never get it dirty.

We love this one that Ruggable sent us because they are machine-washable, waterproof and stain-resistant. The rug is also completely non-toxic, which gave me huge peace of mind with the kids.

A brown leather couch in a living room

Before bringing a piece of furniture or decor into your home, think: Can this be easily washed, wiped down or updated?

Ruggable is offering a special discount to The Military Wife and Mom readers! Snag 15% off your own Ruggable with code FUNMILITARYWIFE15.

4. Don’t underestimate the kids. Keep them involved.

Kids who do chores are more successful adults. Even though it takes more time to get the kids involved when they are younger, it will pay off in spades later in life.

Small kids can fold towels, put clothes in drawers, use a small vacuum, put away silverware, etc. Our kids each pick three jobs from a basket of chore cards each weekend. During the week, they help clear the table after dinner, set the table before dinner, put away laundry and follow their morning and evening routines.

When kids make a spill, we hand them a towel and show them how to clean it up. We also move toy clean up and tidying to the afternoon, so it’s not one big high drama toy pick up before bedtime. Kids are often tired in the evening right before bed. Moving the responsibility lessons and tidying to the afternoon makes a world of difference.

5. Create a 15 minute evening tidying routine.

This tidying routine is something my husband and I do together each night right after dinner or right after the kids are in bed – whenever we can fit it into our schedule.

During our 15 minute evening tidying routine we might…

  • Start or fold a load of wash.
  • Start or empty the dishwasher.
  • Pick up random items on the counter and put them away.
  • Tidy up the downstairs bathroom with a few baby wipes.
  • Sweep the floor.
  • Empty all the trash bins.
  • Do a quick dusting.
  • Tidy up our bedroom or master bath.

If we both work for 15 minutes in the evening, we are getting done 30 minutes of house cleaning each night. Over the course of 5 weeknights that is 2.5 hours of cleaning. Proof that if you do a little bit each night and team up, you don’t have to slave all of Saturday morning when you’d rather be drinking coffee in bed.

If you ever find yourself saying, “See! This is why we can’t have a nice home,” remember this: You can have a clean home with messy kids so long as the routines, family systems and decor serve YOU.

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  1. Thank you for these tips! I have recently started imploring my kids to be conscientious about their own stuff, and start tidying after themselves. So far, it’s a daily battle. Sometimes, they do it willingly, some days, it just doesn’t work

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