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I used to spend a couple of hours cleaning my home on the weekends….before I had kids.
Soon after having my firstborn, I realized that spending hours at a time cleaning my house was just not possible anymore! Then I had a toddler and a baby and getting the housework done meant I had to get creative.
After fighting it for way too long and only getting frustrated, I came up with some tricks for cleaning my house even with young kids.
If you have a toddler, you’ll want to read some specific tips in this post: How to Keep a Clean House with a Toddler.
I’ve also written a post about getting toddlers to do chores. When my kids were toddlers, they loved helping with the dusting and laundry!
However there are times you have to get some cleaning done and your little ones just can’t help.
For me that was usually cleaning the bathroom and mopping. I needed to be able to do those chores by myself which meant I needed a plan for my toddler and baby.
Before I get into all the practical things you can do, I want to invite you to sign up for the Stay at Home Mom Checklist. It’s for any stay at home mom who is feeling a bit overwhelmed and just needs someone to point her in the right direction.
How to Get Housework Done with a Toddler and Baby.
1. Give them your attention before cleaning.
Eat a meal with them, read a book, or play with toys. That way they are ready for independent play and are less likely to want your attention while you clean.
Make sure your baby has been fed and has a clean diaper. That way you won’t have to stop in the middle of cleaning to feed or change a diaper. Well, most likely, you never know when a dirty diaper might strike!
If your baby has had enough cuddles and stimulation, he/she may simply want to be left alone for a little while anyways.
2. Set a timer.
We use timers all the time at our house. I used to use them when I taught 5th grade, and now I use them regularly for both positive and negative things.
Sometimes it’s time out, but sometimes I’ll set a timer for 5 minutes until we do something fun. Using a timer helps teach your toddler the idea of time.
They understand that minutes are shorter than hours. It also teaches them how to wait.
So I’ll often set a timer when I clean. This lets my kids know that I won’t be cleaning long, and when the timer goes off, I’ll be done.
Using a timer also helps you work a little faster. You may only have 10 minutes, but when you are working against the clock, you’ll be surprised what you can get done!
3. Set your baby and toddler up with a fun activity to do while you clean.
Of course you’ll want to keep your baby and toddler separate since you won’t be supervising. Although, if it is possible, keep them in sight.
Here are some activities a baby can do while you clean.
- Sway in the swing.
- Sit in a bouncy seat.
- Lie in the play pen with a couple of toys.
- Lie in the crib with music or mobile playing.
Activities for a toddler:
- Build block tower.
- Look at books.
- Play with cars or special toys in room.
- Wooden puzzles
4. Plan something fun when you are done.
I would often tell my toddler that if he could play for 15 minutes while I cleaned, then we could go outside or play a game when I was done.
So think of something fun your toddler would like to do after you finish your housework. Maybe its read a book together or go to the park or have a tea party.
That way they have something to look forward to after waiting. Just be sure to follow through.
Make it lots of fun and tell your toddler how proud you are of them for waiting so that you could do the fun activity together. Next time, your toddler will know it is worth the wait!
5. Let go of perfection!
You don’t have to have a perfectly clean home and check every little housework chore off your list. If you aim for “good enough”, it’s much easier to get your cleaning done with young kids.
It won’t take you as long to do and you won’t feel like you have to clean every single mess up right away.
Since having kids, I’ve also become more aware of toxic cleaning products and changed to more natural, safe cleaning supplies.
Some of my favorites are Mrs. Meyers soaps and products.
I get them delivered to my house from Grove Collaborative. You can get a free Mrs. Meyer’s gift set when you sign up with your first order to try them out.
After using these safer products, my house doesn’t smell like chemicals when I clean around my little one. That’s super important to me and my kids love how the house smells when I clean! So be sure to check out Grove for a better smelling, safer clean home.
If you are an overwhelmed stay at home mom be sure to get your copy of the Stay at Home Mom Checklist.