Having kids doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful home. Learn some simple and easy tricks to help you maintain a tidy home with kids.
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The number one question I get most often is, “How do you keep your home so clean with kids?!” Commonly followed by the statement, “I could never have nice things in my home.” And I never really stopped to give these comments much consideration, because tidiness for me always came second nature.
And truth you guys… Clutter gives me anxiety. I’m talking, mind racing, irritability, mom’s lost her marbles, anxiety. And as much as my husband carefully attempts to persuade me to “calm down”, the poor guy usually wishes he’d never uttered those dreadful words.
You see, I don’t clean and tidy my house because I want a calm home. I clean because I want a calm mind. Now don’t get me wrong, I have 3 kids, and well, kids are messy. In fact, 90 percent of the time the playroom in our house looks something like this.
And you know what? It doesn’t even bother me, not one bit. Because I’ve learned some pretty valuable tips and tricks after 3 children that have helped me to control the chaos. My home doesn’t have to be perfect, but I can aim for tidy.
Oh what 2 and 3-year-old doesn’t love to test some good old-fashioned boundaries? Am I right?! But, there’s a reason why boundaries are so darn important. We’re already outnumbered in our home so I can’t have these kids staging a coup and taking over the place. They’d likely raid the pantry of goldfish crackers and color on the walls with my lipstick.
Which is why it was so important for us to set boundaries with them at a young age. Because we’ve worked hard to build a home we love and are proud of, and we want them to respect that. Now we’re not drill sergeants, although my 13-year-old would probably disagree, but we do have some hard rules in our home that help keep it tidy. To each their own, but we’ve found the following rules to be pretty helpful for us.
- No shoes in the house because, well mud, germs, and gross. See my mudroom makeover for this storage solution.
- Food stays in the kitchen….except for the occasional bedtime snack. We’re not monsters.
- Clean up your own mess, I am not the maid. (Still working on this one as my son often tells me he’s “too busy” and it’s really hard to get mad at 3-year-old logic)
Clean As You Go
This one is second nature to me. My husband, not so much. It’s a pretty simple philosophy to follow, but when you start incorporating these small steps into your everyday routine it quickly becomes a habit that leads to less time cleaning up messes.
How do you get started?
Start small. Whenever you leave a room, take a look around and see if there are any items you can take with you. For us, it’s the daily sippy cup run from the kids’ bedrooms to the kitchen. Or the morning pajama pile trek into the laundry room. The key is to never leave a room empty-handed and you won’t feel the overwhelm of clutter all around you.
I’ll tell you where this really pays off though. In the kitchen.
When I’m cooking, which if I’m being honest is pretty rare these days, I’m notorious for cleaning up cookware and dishes as I go. I call it efficient, my husband would rather refer to it as impatient. But ya know what happens at the end of dinner? That’s right, no dreaded pile of dirty dishes and a clean kitchen. I can’t tell you how many times my husband used to cook and we’d wake up with a disaster of a kitchen because we were both too tired to clean anything up after eating.
For now, I just try to help him clean as he cooks. So what if I keep putting his spatula in the dishwasher when he still needs it. It’s better than the alternative.
Use Functional Storage
I try hard to only buy furniture and accessories that serve a purpose in our home. And if your home happens to be lacking in storage space, then this tip is especially key to keeping your home tidy. There is no shortage of “stuff” in our home so I’m always looking for creative ways to conceal the clutter.
You heard me right, there’s no shame in simply hiding your clutter. As long as it’s not a practice across your entire house. Otherwise, that kind of disorganization will lead to chaos.
Take our TV stand for example. It’s a wreck at all times, although it’s an organized wreck. There’s simply no point in me trying to put all the DVDs back into their respective cases when my daughter is going to rip them all out trying to decide which 5 princess movies she’s going to rotate through that evening.
The solution? Sliding barn doors. Just a push to the right and the mess is gone. I’m so clever, I know.
Bonus, it doubles as a hiding spot for the toddlers. It truly is functional!
Get Your Kids Involved
The first time I picked my kids up from daycare and witnessed them cleaning up all of their toys on command, including perfectly rolling up and folding their individual playmats, I was in awe. I remember asking the teacher, “How do I get them to do that at home?!” Apparently, every parent asks that question.
The truth is though, it’s up to me to reinforce those good habits at home. Clearly, they’re perfectly capable of cleaning up their own toys. So we actively practice tidying up in our home. It’s not always pretty, and can sometimes end up in a lot of tears (from me), but it does work.
You can even make a game out of it by having the kids race each other to clean up the fastest. The point is to help them develop tidy habits so that you don’t spend all of your free time constantly picking up all the toys. And aim for progress, not perfection. I don’t care that they put the toys, or even themselves, into the wrong bins, because the fact that they are cleaning up at all is teaching them basic responsibility and how to care for their things.
Keep toys out of Bedrooms
Speaking of toys, they’re a hard no in our kids’ bedrooms. I’m not mean, I promise. But I’m a firm believer that bedrooms are for sleeping and that having shiny, loud toys in their rooms distracts them from sleeping. Not to mention a really difficult bedtime because they just want to continue playing at night.
We do let them have baskets of stuffed animals and bookcases full of books which helped to establish a pretty good bedtime routine of stories and snuggling. Eliminating toys from their bedrooms has really cut down on clutter for us. I can typically zip through all of our upstairs bedrooms in about 15 minutes and have them tidied up, complete with made-up beds.
Dedicated area for Toy Storage
We are lucky enough to have a spare room in our home that we dedicated as the kids’ playroom. It certainly doesn’t stop toys from migrating throughout the house, but it makes it so much easier to return them to their home when you know exactly where they belong.
We weren’t always blessed with a lot of storage space so I used to come up with creative ways to organize and store the toys in our previous home. I ended up using decorative trunks in our living room, lots of baskets and of course some clever concealing methods in our TV stand.
Whether it’s as simple as a closet or as large as an entire room, as long as you have a dedicated area to store the toys, you’ll be able to manage the chaos and tidy up that much quicker.
Less is More
I don’t consider myself a true minimalist, I mean, I am a self-proclaimed throw pillow hoarder, but I do try to live a little simpler in our home. Probably the biggest way this plays through is with our kids’ toys. We have a tendency to spoil them, just a tad. But I mean, it’s really hard not to when they’re still so cute and innocent. Once they can backtalk, I swear it’s game over.
But here’s the important part. We don’t accumulate stuff.
We make a practice of regularly going through the kid’s toys to look for things they might have outgrown. And we make a conscious effort to either donate it, sell it, or give it away. And ya know what, they seem to appreciate what they have so much more when they aren’t surrounded by a million unused toys.
This habit helps us to clear our home of unnecessary clutter and allows the kids to get more enjoyment out of what they do have. I’ll let you in on a little secret I learned during our playroom remodel recently. Rotate your toys. See this tower of tall baskets below? My toddlers can’t reach them. But if I rotate out what they can reach they literally act like it’s Christmas with a whole new set of toys to play with.
Keeps ‘em busy for hours.
Put It Into Practice to maintain a tidy home with kids
Try making a few of these simple changes in your own house and see if you find yourself with a tidier home.
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your day to check out this post. As always, I hope that it helps you to Love the home you have. Drop me a comment below to let me know if you practice any of these habits in your own home. And don’t forget to subscribe to the upcoming newsletter where I’ll be delivering tips and helpful design suggestions straight to your inbox.
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