How to keep the house clean with little kids

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. This blog is my job, my real job 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!)



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.

Related: How to Get Motivated to Clean and Organize (strategies that work!)

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).

Related: Heck Yes, My Kids Watch TV

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.

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.

You have to own ridiculously easy to use cleaning tools

With tiny kids, it’s not THAT EASY to just pull out your huge clunky vacuum. A lightweight cordless vacuum or “dust-buster” (hello, 1980’s! Are they even called that anymore? But you know what I mean) is essential for keeping on top of the mess – without much effort.

And it’s also not that easy to pull out an old school mop bucket – I mean, yes you need to mop – because there’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.

But there’s no real chunks of dedicated time to MOP, so having something like a swiffer-wet jet in the corner of the kitchen can be a real lifesaver.

Other cleaning essentials at my house include spot cleaner (for upholstery and carpet) and dusting mitts. 

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.

But this stuff is 100% natural and does an AMAZING job on the bath / shower / sinks etc. 

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).

Related: Non-toxic household cleaners, to clean your home naturally

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.)

Related: How to be a better parent (and have a cleaner house too!) 

Get Organized

If your house is constantly buried in clutter and mess, check out The Organized Home Course by Hilary from Pulling Curls. It is created just for people like us, who need to be given  bite-sized tips & lessons on organization so we know where stuff is, save time & feel more peace at home. (Because we do ACTUALLY deserve to feel at peace in our homes!)

This is the perfect course for you if:

  • You always need hours of notice before having guests because you’re embarrassed about the state of your home.
  • You’re always worried you misplaced an important document or won’t be able to find things when you need them.
  • You’ve ever wondered why can’t YOU enjoy peaceful time on the couch or enjoying your family instead of always stressing out about the state of your home?

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. 

Of course, once your kids are a little bit older, you can give the kids age appropriate chores to help you out!

How do you manage to keep your house clean with toddlers or babies?




21 thoughts on “How to keep the house clean with little kids”

  1. Thanks for the tips!! I struggle with keeping the house clean EVERY DAY. It seems like no matter how hard I try nothing gets done. Maybe this will change things! 🙂

  2. I am completely falling apart with laundry! It doesn’t seem to matter what I do I can never keep up. It doesn’t help that my littlest one (3 months) is a puker day I’m going through about 4-5 outfits and 5-6 receiving blankets a day. Do you have any tips for babies who are formula fed? Or how to stop puking?

    • My breastfed baby was a puker, actually! And honestly,the only thing we could do to stay on top of things (and keep mildew away) was a load of laundry every other day. He puked till he was 9 months old… and we stopped breastfeeding. Go figure. Sigh.

    • Janita, change his formula! It’ll take a week to notice a difference but that’s almost the cause,

    • What formula do you use? With my oldest we tried everything!! Sensitive formulas, ultra sensitive, and soy. Nothing worked!! His pediatrician told me to do 2 oz formula and 2 bounces almond milk. He was 2 months at the fine. It worked amazing!! We did half and half bottles until he was a year old and he hardly ever even spit up after that!!!

    • My baby was a puker too but what I did to keep the blankets at least under control is I would wipe the most of the puke off and reuse the blanket, I know it sounds gross but if it’s just formula and you catch it early you can get most of it off and use the blanket or two throughout the day, also bibs helped, they’re smaller and wouldn’t take up as much space in the laundry basket 😅

  3. This is a very important article. Mold is a real problem and most people do not seem to be aware of the health dangers it poses. If you are living in a mold infested home, you have to bring your family to safety as quickly as possible. Value your kids life!

    • I definitely agree! It’s one of those sneaky things we don’t always think about!

  4. The one most efficient way to keep your house cleaner is to teach your kids TO SIT DOWN IN ONE PLACE to eat, paint or do any other messy activities. Preferably use highchairs to keep your children in their proper places and sit with them or be near them as needed.
    It becomes even easier, if you have a paper or thin plastic table cloth (cut off from a roll) that you can simply trow away after use,

    The second most efficient way to keep the floor clean and clutter-free is to have one dedicated room for toys (in your case the living room) with a rug with a big cotton sheet on top of it. When your children have played with blocks, toy animals or small cars, just fold the sheet with the toys on it and pour them into a container. – I really liked your idea of having a nice storage basket or ottoman that fits the decor of the room for invisible toy storage!

    The water vacuum cleaners are great! I also had one, when my children were small. It was rather heavy to pull around all the house, though. Now, I have fewer small children around, so I use a robotic vacuum cleaner for daily vacuuming and spills, spots et cetera, I simply mop them up or use wet wipes.

    • Helen,

      You make some excellent points. It’s definitely a work in progress for us – but we are getting there! Thank goodness for water vacuums!

  5. I feel like we have lived the very same exact experience!!! LOL!! I emailed my husband and told him, “Did you see the part about the mop??!!” I totally had that on my lists of things to buy this past year and haven’t bought it yet. This definitely solidifies the need to get one ASAP. I have felt every single frustration you pointed out in your article, so it’s nice to share with my spouse DOCUMENTATION that it’s not just me and that it’s a MOM thing. It is really challenging a lot of times, but that doesn’t change the fact that being a mom is such a blessing!!! I wouldn’t change my life for anything <3 Thanks for sharing your experiences and tips with us!!!

  6. I do laundry practically every day and multiple loads too, but we have a family of 7, with 5 very active boys who often get wet and muddy. I wash lots of clothes and also towels since I only keep a couple of towels per person due to not much space since we live in a smaller home, 1344 square feet. And, there’s bedding and blankets, which the kids are sometimes bad about playing with and leaving on the floor and then the dog lying on them… And, I’m a massage therapist, so I have all those sheets to wash as well. So, I just keep it going, and the kids help a lot too with laundry. My laundry room is very tiny, so if we didn’t do constant laundry, we wouldn’t be able to get in there. Where I get sloppy sometimes is not getting every load promptly sorted and put away. So, sometimes I wind up with several baskets of clean but wrinkled laundry when it really doesn’t take long at all to just deal with it when we get a load out of the dryer.

  7. I think it is also a great practice to involve your kids in cleaning your house. It is a good bonding moment and it works for me and my wife with our kids.

  8. Your article is very good! Housewife is always a meticulous and demanding work! Why don’t you try using a number of cleaning tools like a vacuum cleaner?

  9. I was searching for such an outstanding article and I have ended up here. Thank you very much for sharing this with us and I’m looking forward to reading this kind of more articles in the future as well.

  10. I felt you! I am a mother of one, a five-year-old and I’m still trying to figure out how to keep my house clean. It’s nice to read your article! I hope one day I could make everything organize.

  11. This is a great post and using the right cleaning supplies definitely makes the whole cleaning process easier on all of us

  12. This is a really great post about keeping the house clean and i found the most important part to be the part about using kid friendly supplies

  13. Keeping the toys in small numbers might just work! One of the problems that we’ve faced is that we often have new toys and it just adds up and more messes to clean. Storing a bulk of it, might just lessen the cleaning time.

  14. I’ll be one of the first to admit I am one of those at least one if not three loads of laundry everyday people but I cloth diaper and my husband wears like three outfits per day (one for work, one for relaxing, and pj’s) and no he cannot wear the same outfit twice apparently also apparently my house is where my whole families “special wash” items go literally have my moms weighted blanked waiting to be washed right now that’s like we also do multiple loads of dishes each day because even if we’re just eating leftovers we go through so many dishes its ridiculous


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