Having kids at home is a blessing because they are funny, creative and always make you laugh. But they are also a huge responsibility because you have to keep them safe, fed and well entertained every day. So it’s natural that you can get behind on some tasks around the house like cleaning and organising. And while kids explore this world, they leave a ton of messes! And I’m not talking only about toys and legos laying around, but also food and pencil marks, and all the other small chaoses they can create.
Personally, my children aren’t the type to play quietly while I’m doing my housekeeping chores. My daughter is my shadow all day and she follows me around everywhere. If I’m not playing with her, she loves to do exactly what I’m doing – cleaning, cooking or putting her baby brother down for a nap. She’s precious for trying, and I love to encourage her, but kids do not always have the needed motor skills to perform some tasks.
This is why I had to find some tricks that help keep the house clean while my young kids are playing around. With a few small lifestyle changes, you’ll be able to organise your day in a way that will keep everything in place, and your home will be guest-ready at all times.
1. Wake up before your children
I know it doesn’t sound like a good idea, especially if you’re a new overwhelmed mum, but the best way to quickly take care of some tasks is to do it before your kids wake up. Try to arrange your schedule in a manner that gets you to bed early, at least during weeknights, this way, you’ll be able to get some much-deserved rest, and you’ll be able to wake up sooner. After some time, you will notice that you’ll have more energy and time to keep after the dishes, toys, and laundry that accumulates during the day. And the lack of children will allow you to do it faster because you won’t have to tend to their needs while doing it. That way, instead of spending the rare free moments running around like crazy, I can catch my breath and do something else that I enjoy.
2. Have a routine
The most important thing is making a routine. A good daily routine provides kids with structure and knows what to expect at each time of the day. For example, they will know that after lunch, it is time to put the plates away and clean. After school, they need to unpack their books, wash up, have a snack, do their homework and prepare for the next day. Everyone in the family should know their responsibilities and follow some written rules and task lists. This way, your kids won’t expect you to play with them when it’s time for the laundry or cooking dinner.
You can easily find downloadable cleaning checklists online and place them on your fridge or elsewhere where everyone will see them. You can also personalise it to your needs, for instance, mark the days when you vacuum, dust, clean the oven, etc. Organised people easily find time for everything.
3. Put stuff away before you start doing something else
Often when kids finish playing with a particular toy, they just move on to the next one, leaving the first toy on the ground and forgetting entirely about it. And this goes on and on and on until the entire room is flooded with toys and you have no land left to walk on. If you’re sick and tired of constantly picking toys up, you need to make it a rule to place the toys back in their places before picking something up. Ensure your kids have enough storage options and bags for storing clothes in their rooms, like boxes, bins and dressers where they can store everything away. Let them choose spots and arrange everything the way they want it; this will give them a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes small habits like putting the toys away before getting out the blocks make a big difference, which is an excellent habit to develop with your kids. It will teach them responsibility, self-sufficiency and will prepare them for the world outside.
4. Involve your kids
My eight-year-old likes to help out with my housework. We have both a mop and a vacuum that collapse to be around her size. She thinks cleaning is fun, and I’d like for her to keep thinking that for as long as possible. The hardest thing was letting her clean with me. She’d just take my pile of dirt and swish it all over the room. So, we started taping the painter’s tape on the floor by making a square for her to clean. This way, she considers it even a more significant challenge and does her best to stick to the lines. I plan on applying the same principles to my son once he grows up. Once they are old enough, you can give your kids personalised chore lists for their rooms and their responsibilities in the common areas in the house. Some duties for their rooms could include:
- Making their beds
- Changing their sheets regularly
- Placing their laundry in a bin and separating them by colour
- Folding their clothes
- Putting their toys and school supplies away
- Dusting and vacuuming their rooms
- Taking care of their pets
5. Be flexible
Flexibility is the most important lesson that you need to learn when you have kids in the house. Once you have kids, your life becomes so chaotic that it’s hard to anticipate everything, leading to some guilt and feelings of anxiety to have everything done. After all, on a beautiful sunny day, most people can’t stand staying cooped up inside and would prefer to go out and do something fun. There are also times when you are just too tired after waking up all night long to take care of a crying baby. Naturally, the messes start piling up, and we are buried alive under a pile of laundry and whatnot. What’s worse, it looks like a bomb was dropped in the home. On those days, you need to remember that life is short and that your children won’t always stay small and cute and won’t spend all of their time with you. But the dishes on the sink won’t get anywhere, and you can do them some other time. Sometimes focusing on the well-being of your family members is more important than the well-being of your house. It’s not always pretty, but after all, life is messy by definition.
Once your children grow up and look back on their childhood, they won’t remember the messy house as much, but they’ll remember the time you spent with them, the love and the fun you had together as a family.
Author bio: Jane Wilson is a mum, a blogger and a marketing executive from Melbourne. She represents the local branch of Fantastic Cleaners, a licensed cleaning company that provides a wide range of services. She also runs a small blog called Modern Housewives, where she shares all kinds of home improvement and parenting tips.