I spent the last few months asking (screaming?) HOW can I keep my house clean with a baby and a toddler?! HOW?!
I have 2 under 2, and I know I’m not the only one who’s felt like trying to keep the house clean with a baby / toddler / multiple small people under foot is totally impossible.
But I get super stressed out by a messy house… and what’s worse, so does my husband. (Why is that worse? Because then I’m stressed about the messy house AND stressed about my stressed husband. It’s just bad all around.) I flat out enjoy my life more when my house is clean. I even sleep better when my house is clean. But it is really hard to keep the house clean with a toddler around.
HOW are you supposed to clean the house when a) everything you pick up is thrown back on the floor within half hour and b) someone ALWAYS needs to be held, wiped, fed, found, put to sleep, bathed or entertained?
(Not to mention that cleaning my house is not my full time job. I also work. Here, on this blog, this is my real work that pays my real bills. I can’t just ignore my work to scrub the floor or even unload the dishwasher every nap time. So no, my “clean house” secret is not that you should frantically clean your house at nap time!)
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t wish away those blocks on the floor or the finger prints in my windows for all the money in the world. I LOVE that my house is lived in by tiny people. I just also want it to feel like my home, and not like my “place where I store crap on the floor”.
So I have worked really hard to try and get the mess in our house under control… and until this month I have really failed.
But this month, this past glorious few weeks, I have finally figured out the secret (s) to keeping our house clean – WITH LITTLE KIDS! (I did not send the kids away or anything. They have stayed in my house while I’ve kept it clean. A miracle!)
(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
Top Tips for Keeping Your House Clean With Small Kids
You might have already tried some of these things… but it turns out you have to use ALL of them together to see any success. (Or at least, that’s what did it for me.)
Determine that clean is an absolute priority for you
What this means for ME is that that I don’t get into bed until the house is picked up.
Because I pick up the house EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. before bed, it never takes that long. 15 minutes or so, to walk through each room and put things where they belong.
And because I know that I’m going to do this at night, it helps me stay vigilant in the day – and more likely to pick up as we go.
When I don’t feel like doing it, I remind myself how GOOD it feels to wake up to a tidy house.
Limit toys in the main area of the house
This was a big game changer.
There’s a few of my kiddos favorite toys in the main living area, and the rest are contained in the basement. (Full disclosure… I do not tidy the basement every evening, but he hardly goes down there, so it stays pretty clean).
I want my house to look nice, but I also recognize that my kids live here and want them to be comfortable and enjoy our home too. So having toys in the living room is a must. I bought a pretty storage baskets that looks good in our living room (almost exactly like this one) instead of a plastic-y toy box. That way, there’s something to store the toys in that doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
We also relegated books off of the bottom of the book shelf and into boxes. Now we store toys / kids books on the bookshelf and they aren’t taking up any extra SPACE in the living room (I haven’t read a book since I became a mom anyway! lol).
If the toys don’t fit in the basket / on the bottom of the book shelf, they don’t belong in the family room.
Having a limited number of toys to clean up every night makes the process MUCH faster.
(When you have a SUPER BAD mess, here’s where to start: How to clean your house when you feel paralyzed by the mess.)
Use Screen time wisely
I’m not advocating we plonk our kids in front of the TV and go do our nails.
I get that TV is not GREAT for kids – and I do believe in being an involved parent. Totally.
I also believe that living in a filthy house with stressed and yelling-about-who’s-turn-it-is-to-clean-the-kitchen-parents is no better for a kid than a bunch of TV.
So if you’re struggling with keeping the house clean with kids, here’s your permission to ditch the mom guilt (maybe give them a bowl of carrot sticks) – put on Dora and speed clean.
You can get a heck of a lot more put away in half an hour by yourself than you can with adorable “help”.
If you have a REALLY little one, you can often buy yourself 15-20 minutes with something as simple as a 50$ excer-saucer. We have this one and baby LOVES it. She stands in it for half an hour at a time and even watches nursery rhymes on TV with her brother. I think it’s GREAT for baby to learn that they don’t have to be held by mom all. the. time. and this way I know she’s safely contained.
And it’s totally ok to do this each and every day. No, a half hour of TV will NOT ruin them. Yes, living in a clean house IS worth the small compromise.
Remember, the environment our kids grow up in is the environment they will live in later. You are doing them a favor by showing them that a clean home is a priority (and also that you do not exist only to entertain them).
Get a good baby wrap / carrier
It wasn’t AS hard to keep things clean when it was just one baby.
I mean, when one baby was in bed, running around and picking up was easy. But when one baby is in bed, and the other baby is crying so loud that it wakes up first baby… well, you know what I mean.
I’ve never jumped on the baby wearing train before because I found the wraps really hard to tie. I tried with my first when he was just little and nearly dropped him trying to get it done, and I never tried again.
Baby number 2 has made a wrap a necessity – so I did my research and found a wrap that isn’t clunky and huge, AND you don’t have to tie it. SO AWESOME. (This is the one I bought + love!)
I bought one of these and that is a problem of the past. And while I pick up the house, 2nd baby even relaxes and falls asleep! Which is awesome, because before I was just walking around bouncing her or nursing till my boobs were numb. She LOVES this wrap!
You have to multi-task: Vacuum + Mop at the same time
About a month ago, my husband took tiny person #1 to the hardware store, and tiny person #2 was asleep – so I ran around the house with the vacuum. It took me about 20 minutes, and when I was finished I looked around, expecting to feel accomplished… but the floor was still filthy.
With tiny kids, it’s not just dust and the odd stray hair that’s on the floor. It’s juice, mud, bum cream (yes, bum cream. My toddler painted his head with it the other day, and I am still finding it on the floor in places) and all manner of other splotches.
JUST vacuuming wasn’t gonna do it. So, even tho I had already spent 20 minutes on the floor, I got out the mop.
And then the baby woke up.
So I put the mop away.
And we just continued on with life, filthy floor and all. (Tell me you can’t relate?!)
Well, that’s the last time that’ll happen… because I borrowed one of these amazing machines from my mom, showed my husband how awesome it was to have CLEAN floors (in 20 minutes flat – vacuumed AND mopped) and he (who HATES spending money) said we will buy one ASAP. (Update: Buy one we did. Use it often we do.)
Yep, it really does vacuum and wash your floors at the same time. (See it on Amazon here.)
Use kid safe multipurpose cleaners
I have a hard time getting into real “cleaning mode” when my kids are awake because they are both still so LITTLE. It’s almost impossible to keep them out of whatever I’m using, and I would never get out chemicals to clean while they can get into them.
So I try to do most of the cleaning when they’re asleep but that isn’t always possible.
The same company makes these amazing microfiber cleaning cloths that are anti-bacterial, you literally just put water on them and wipe! (They come with a window cloth that makes cleaning mirrors, windows, appliances etc. easier than ever – with JUST WATER!)
Using kid safe stuff to clean the house, I don’t have to put off cleaning OR worry about them licking the residue off the windows (cus kids are weird like that).
Stay on top of laundry – because laundry is where everything falls apart
I don’t know why, but laundry really is the beginning of the end for me. I keep everything together really well… until some laundry creeps around the house and destroys everything.
I’ve found that having loads of hampers helps (in each bathroom and each bed room… and we also have one in the family room. Why? Because a full hamper tucked in the corner is ten times better than dirty laundry on the couch.)
I’ve also started doing a load of laundry at least every three days. (I’ve seen some people say do the laundry daily. Um, how many clothes are you WEARING in a day? But whatever, do what works for you. I find every three days is enough for it to keep from exploding and taking over.)
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If you need someone to TEACH you how to address clutter and get organized, Hilary is your girl, and you can get 10% off the course here with the code MOP10.
How do you manage to keep your house clean with toddlers or babies?