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I’ve heard it said that cleaning a house with a toddler is like brushing your teeth and then eating Oreos.
That is so true! Sometimes keeping a house clean with young kids can seem pointless and overwhelming. When a task feels impossible, it’s easy to not even try or simply give up.
In fact, I’ve read articles that praise moms for having messy houses. They give them a pat on the back and tell them that it’s okay to be in a state of chaos because they are being “real”.
Or there is the famous poem, by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton about ignoring the cobwebs and dust because we are taking care of our babies.
There is this idea that if a mom has a clean house, her priorities aren’t right because she is spending time cleaning instead of with their kids.
I disagree with these ideas. They seem like excuses to me.
I don’t think there has to be a choice of one or the other. You can have a clean house and spend time with your kids by making intentional choices and daily habits.
Because if I’m honest, I’m not really choosing my kids over cleaning my floor. I’m choosing my phone or Netflix.
Before I get into the specific things you can do, let me be crystal clear:
I’m not talking about a perfect home that never has any messes.
I’ve been in homes where I was afraid to even make a footprint on the carpet.
Those homes were not comfortable or inviting.
Messy and dirty homes are not comfortable either. I’ve been in homes where you can barely walk into rooms because of all the toys or the kitchen counters were covered with so much stuff, you couldn’t even set a cup down.
There has to be a balance.
Accept the fact that messes happen, but be ready to take care of them.
So let’s get going.
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Here’s how to keep a clean house with a toddler.
1. Limit the Number of Toys.
When my firstborn was a toddler, I kept all of his little toys in a big bin that he would dump out all over the living room floor. He then only played with them for a total of two minutes!
It took me longer to clean up the toys then the time he actually played with the toys.
One day I was so. over. it.
I decided to put away most of his toys and only leave out a few that he actually played with.
Having only a few toys out was like a miracle!
Suddenly my toddler played longer with only a few toys instead of so many!
It was WAY easier to clean up. His toys didn’t overtake the whole house. And the toys didn’t require a bunch of storage space and containers.
2. Put Things Out of Your Toddler’s Reach.
Half of the messes caused by my lovely toddlers are because things are within reach and they want to explore.
The folded laundry that suddenly was thrown all over the floor. The stack of papers that is no longer in a stack. My diaper bag that got dumped out.
All of those messes happened because things were in my toddler’s reach that shouldn’t have been.
Toddlers are such wonderful little humans who LOVE to explore and experience new things. A.K.A. They make messes!
I’ve learned that I can avoid a lot of messes if I simply make sure certain things and places are off limits.
3. Deal with Messes Right Away.
We try to deal with messes as soon as possible after they happen. When little messes are taken care of throughout the day, they don’t pile up into big, overwhelming messes. Those little messes are much easier to deal with.
Here are some simple ways you can deal with messes right away.
- After meals, put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or wash them.
- Wipe down tables and chairs after eating.
- Clean up liquid spills.
- Sweep up dry spills.
- Put away toys when done playing.
4. Keep up with Daily Habits.
Before becoming a mom, I used to spend a couple hours on the weekends cleaning the house and catching up on dishes and laundry. After becoming a mom, I realized I could no longer spend 2 straight hours cleaning especially with a toddler!
Besides I didn’t want to spend my whole day cleaning. I wanted to actually do things with my toddler!
Instead I started breaking up my cleaning tasks into daily and weekly house cleaning tasks.
I will never go back to spending 2 hours cleaning my house on the weekends!
Especially with little kids, it is important to stay on top of daily cleaning tasks. Here are the main habits that will help you maintain a clean house.
- a load or two of laundry
- clean kitchen every night before bed
- pick up toys at certain times (before naps or bedtime)
- spend 15 minutes on a weekly chore like bathrooms, mopping, dusting, ect.
5. Get the Toddlers Involved in Cleaning the House.
Being a homemaker means you do a lot of cleaning and you serve your family on a regular basis, but you should still expect your kids to help out and clean up their messes too. They can learn responsibility and how to be a helper at a young age.
As soon as your children are able, it is important to teach them age appropriate chores. I shared a post all about Getting Your Toddler to Do Chores where I shared how my toddler wiped up spills, cleared his plate from the table, put dirty clothes in the hamper, and more.
Now that my son is a preschooler, he does more chores and he even does some without being asked! Woohoo!
We still have to remind him to do some things, but there is definite improvement. He loves when he gets to be a helper and do “big boy” things.
Even our 13 month old is learning how to to pick up toys. It is never to early to encourage these habits.
Toddlers don’t always do things perfectly and it takes more time to have them help, but it is worth the training years right now. Eventually, they will become even more independent and able to clean things all by themselves.
Here are some ways my preschooler helps with cleaning all because he started while he was a toddler.
- Picks up toys.
- Puts away shoes, jackets, bags, and other belongings.
- Puts dirty clothes in the hamper.
- Puts away clean clothes.
- Clears the table.
- Drys dishes.
- Helps with the laundry.
- Wipes up and sweeps up messes.
- Makes his bed.
Toddlers make messes multiple times a day, but that doesn’t mean you and your family have to live in a constant state of mess or disorder.
You can choose calm and clean over chaotic and dirty.
Again, I’m not talking about a perfectly clean house where your family is afraid to make messes. Toddlers make messes. That is a fact!
But we can still maintain a clean and tidy home where our family and friends feel comfortable to be.
I hope this has given you inspiration for how to keep a house clean with a toddler. If you are tired of the constant state of mess, try implementing one or two of these things and you will see that it is possible to have a (mostly) clean house with little ones!
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