Children, as the saying often goes, are a blessing. However, they are also closely akin to a natural disaster when it comes to keeping a home clean and organized. To keep your home from looking like something that should be condemned, follow these tips for cleaning and organization in a home with small children underfoot.
Tip #1: Limit the number of toys.
It’s wonderful that we live in a place and a time in history when our children are so abundantly blessed. Never before have children had so many material possessions. However, more is definitely not better when it comes to keeping your home organized and clean. If your children have too many toys for their own good (or for yours) consider storing half of them in plastic bins in the garage or a closet. You can switch them out every few months, giving your children fresh toys to play with and giving you a fighting chance of keeping up with the little tykes.
Tip #2: Carefully choose the toys your children can reach without your help.
Keep messy things put up and away so little ones don’t get into them without your knowledge. If Suzy has an artistic streak, great! But that doesn’t mean she has to have 24/7 access to her art supplies. The same goes for impossibly small Lego blocks and any other toys with tiny or disastrously messy components to them. Putting such toys in a place where children must ask for them means that you will at least be aware of when they are being played with, giving you the opportunity to choose appropriate places for such play to take place.
Tip #3: Teach your children.
Making beds, putting away toys, taking out the trash and feeding pets are all chores that young children can accomplish. You can also have small children help with the laundry, dishes and setting the table. Learning to help with cleaning, organizing and daily care in the home will teach young children important lessons about responsibility and caring for their home and environment. As they grow older, your children will become more of a help to you, making house cleaning a much easier task to complete.
Tip #4: Always have something in your hands.
No matter what room you’re leaving or where you are heading, pick something up and take it with you to return to its proper place on your way. This doesn’t seem like it would make much difference, but done consistently it will make a good dent in the picking up that needs to be done at the end of the day.
Tip #5: Keep up with the basics.
This means not letting the general picking up, laundry or dishes get completely out of control. Also, make sure the trash is removed daily. These are the essential housekeeping tasks that are done on a fairly constant basis in a household with small children. Keeping up with these alone will not only make your home look and smell better, it will give you the encouragement and desire to tackle the many other projects lurking throughout your home.
Tip #6: Clean something every day.
No, this doesn’t mean the whole house. It doesn’t even have to be an entire room. But make sure that some progress is made daily in the house cleaning. Clean the kitchen floor, vacuum the living room, or clean the toilet. Just put something on your list and get it done.
Tip #7: Be realistic.
Don’t depress yourself and cause more procrastination by lining yourself up to clean the entire house, including the garage, refrigerator and inside the oven on a day when you have to work, pick up children from school, go a dentist appointment and take Suzy to dance lessons. Obviously, you won’t get everything accomplished, and the housework is the piece that will naturally go undone. This is likely to depress you, making you feel as though you simply don’t have time to do housework and are eternally doomed to live in a debris-strewn home. Do the basics and add your one cleaning task. Then, if you have an open period of time in the day, do additional cleaning. If the day is one long race from beginning to end, acknowledge that you’re only human (yes, this can be painful to accept) and let the rest go for the day.
Tip #8: Have a place for everything and everything in its place.
This old saying has a great deal of wisdom in it. You can’t be organized if you don’t have a place to put all the items in your home. When you begin picking up your home, if you wander around looking for places to put items, you need to do some serious work. There are many organizational tools on the market today that will help, but you don’t have to spend lots of money to get organized. Toys should have a place in closets, on shelves, or in boxes and bins. Make sure you have enough dresser space and hangers to actually put away all those clothes. An inexpensive, 3-drawer rolling bin can be used to store many items that may otherwise float around the house with nowhere to call home. Once you have space for all your possessions it will be a simple and straightforward matter to pick them up and put them away.
Tip #9: Have the proper tools and equipment for the job.
You won’t keep your house clean if you don’t have the supplies and materials needed to do so. Additionally, keep all the cleaning supplies and equipment stored in one location in your home so you don’t waste your cleaning time searching for products. This way, an extra 5 minutes in the morning can be used to wipe down the mirror and sink in the bathroom or quickly sweep the entryway and shake the rug. Small jobs can be done quickly if you can just grab your supplies and go.
Tip #10: Keep baskets and toy boxes throughout the home.
It’s a nice idea to think of all little Johnny’s toys stored neatly away in their proper places in his bedroom, but the chances of this happening daily are close to nil. Instead, pick up those toys and other items and toss them in a basket in the corner of the room. This will take a maximum of 5 minutes and will leave you with an uncluttered room to settle down in for a few minutes at the end of the day.
Keeping a clean, organized house when you have small children is a never-ending battle. Though your home may not look like it belongs on the front cover of a magazine, you don’t have to resign yourself to living in chaos. Following the ten tips above will keep your home sufficiently organized and clean and keep you happy and sane.
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