7 Helpful Tips to Keep Your House Clean With Kids
I can finally admit it–Maintaining a spotless house all week long is impossible for me with two small children at home. I sacrificed a lot during the first few years of motherhood to maintain a clean home. And for what? It’s one regret I have from early motherhood. I would stay up late to finish cleaning, which was exhausting. I would pass on plans outside of the home to stay in and clean–yikes. Over time, I became so obsessed with keeping my house clean that it significantly affected my mental health.
Almost six years into motherhood, I have learned many lessons. I have figured out how to feel at peace with a home that isn’t in perfect condition all the time. Here are five tips for maintaining a kinda-clean home as a stay-at-home mom.
Focus on one area per day
Unless you contain your kids in one area of your home, it can feel impossible to keep up with keeping the house clean. I remember I would clean the living room, but then I didn’t want to be in there with the kids because they would “mess it up.” So now, I focus on one clean area a day for two reasons
- I can clean that area in less than 30 minutes
- I can clean that area and move on. And do not think about it again until the following week.
Everyone will have a different schedule, but I wanted to share with you the schedule I have been using over the past year, which has made a huge difference.
I clean the living room. While I try to have the kiddos put away their toys each night, this is my chance to do a deeper clean by wiping down surfaces, sweeping, and reorganizing.
I clean the bathrooms. I hate cleaning the bathrooms. Our boys are so gross, but having to do this only once a week has made it much more tolerable. And it’s on a day when Chulengo is in elementary school, and Bambino is in part-time preschool. So, I have got this time to muscle through it.
I also wash the used bathroom towels and rugs during this time since I am already in there.
I clean the bedrooms. I focus on our primary bedroom and Bambino’s room during the day. I made a point to do this when Bambino is home with me so that he can help me. He can help me change sheets and put away toys. When Chulengo is home from school in the afternoon, we go through his room and clean up. One day I can be hands-off with their bedrooms if I keep showing them how to clean.
I clean the kitchen + dining room. Again, this is another day when Chulengo is in elementary school, and Bambino is in part-time preschool. I like to tackle the kitchen by myself. Side note: each day, I go to bed with the sink emptied, the dishwasher run, the counters wiped down, and the floors vacuumed. On Thursdays, I deep clean the appliances + cabinets and also clear off the counters of any clutter.
I clean the playroom + office. Bambino is with me at home on Fridays, so this is another room I want his help with. We work together to put all the toys away in the designated spaces. I also straighten up the office to head into the weekend with a fresh start.
I only think about cleaning rooms on their assigned day. If the bathrooms feel like they are getting out of hand, I tell myself I will get to it on Tuesday. And if it bothers me enough to tackle it before Tuesday, I do it. But by keeping up with weekly cleanings per room, I worry less that the whole house is always clean.
Get rid of visual clutter
Get rid of stuff you don’t need. Start a weekly declutter session where you go around with two shopping bags—one for trash and one for donation. Go room by room and put items you no longer need or want in either shopping bag. Then put the bag full of trash in the trash. And the bag full of donations in your car and take them to a donation site–don’t let them sit in the car for long.
The less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to clean.
Have your kids learn to put things away
I have a little secret. I tell my kiddos that if they don’t put their toys away, the bugs will get them. Technically, dust mites could get on the toys, so the bugs might actually get them. My first kiddo, Chulengo, was easy to train to put things away. We had less stuff then and ample storage for all his toys. Bambino, on the other hand, is a whole different beast. It’s still tough to get him to help clean up. But I keep having him do it. And I keep doing it by his side until, hopefully, one day, he can do it with less supervision.
Don’t clean in privacy
Make sure your kids and partner see you cleaning. Have you seen the Magic Coffee Table video where this guy thinks they magically get put away if he puts things on the coffee table? But in reality, his partner has just been cleaning things up. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t let your family think that the house is just magically clean.
When your family sees you cleaning, they may be more inclined to help. Show your family the work you are putting into cleaning. Recruit help from your family for tasks that are age appropriate.
Make a list of 5 accumulating tasks that are causing you stress
We all have those areas in our homes that we put off. We hate the task, so we avoid it. Or it’s hard to stay on top of it, so we ignore it. Or it’s too hard even to get started, so we pretend it doesn’t bother us.
These accumulating tasks can become overwhelming in the long term but can be easily managed in the short term. These accumulating tasks often relate to clutter, space, organization, and avoidance. For me, those accumulating tasks include photos on my phone, mail + papers that come into the home, receipts, monthly budget, and keeping up in touch with friends via text.
So, just like areas in my home, I have designated each of these accumulating tasks to one day per week.
I clean up one month of photos on my phone each Monday. I noticed 35,000 pictures on my phone at the beginning of this year. What on earth am I doing with 35,000 photos? As I have been going through my photos, I’ve been able to delete at least 100 pictures per month, which are duplicates, poor quality, or photos no longer needed. I’ve already gotten rid of over 400 photos this year, which gives me peace of mind.
I sort through the mail and tackle a pile of papers at home. Sometimes it’s a pile of artwork. Other times it can also be bills I need to file, printouts to organize, mail that accumulated from the week before, and handouts from school or clubs. The list can go on and on because there is a constant in-flow of paper in our home.
I go through my receipts from the week. I throw out the ones I know I won’t need, which are most often grocery receipts. I hang on to some receipts like clothing items, household items, business receipts, and others that I may need to reference later on. I then sort these receipts into designated envelopes: Business, Costco, Health, Tax, and Miscellaneous.
It is much easier to return items or reference purchases by categorizing them in specific envelopes.
I update our budget. I look at our bank and credit card statements and track what we’ve spent. By doing this weekly, I can monitor our spending to see where we need to plan appropriately in the coming weeks. Weekly budget check-ins help me feel more in control of our spending.
I text a friend. I am embarrassed to say this, but life sometimes gets so busy that I can easily forget to connect with those I love most. I’ve made it a goal to reach out to at least one friend weekly via text. My relationships have been thriving much more because one text a week turns into multiple texts over the next few weeks. My soul is filled with this connection, and I am prioritizing those I love most.
Figure out what gives you peace of mind
What needs to be cleaned in your home to give you peace of mind? Do you feel good when laundry is put away? When the sink is cleared out, do you feel a sense of calmness?
My peace of mind improves when our home is tidy. I get worked up when I see piles of laundry or papers around the house. I am short with my kids, overstimulated, and freaked out. But when I can manage clutter traps, I feel so good. And I can acknowledge my uneasiness when things get out of hand. Suppose I can’t immediately fix what’s bothering me. In that case, I typically take the kids out of the house to spend time together, and the chaos at home does not trigger me.
Then when I come back home, I can reset and tackle what is standing in the way of my peace of mind.
Hire out help to keep your house clean
If you can budget for someone to come once every month or two to help ease the burden of cleaning, I recommend it. Our cleaning lady has been with us for five years. But there have been periods when I have had to pause her services because we couldn’t fit her into the budget. We brought her back as soon as possible because having her come once a month to do a deep clean made such a difference.
When I could focus on surface-level cleaning, I could keep up with the house while spending less time cleaning.
As a stay-at-home mom, it’s hard for my “office” to be my home. Aside from parks, stores, and occasional local attractions, we spend most of our time at home. As someone who likes order, I’ve been able to figure out systems that work best to keep me happy.