Keeping a clean house while you have kids seems like a dream doesn’t it? A stray cracker here, a forgotten cup there, a rogue Lego on the floor and suddenly you feel it all piling up. The longer it goes on, the more it hurts to look at, and the less motivation you feel to clean it up because it’s seems so overwhelming.
Clean It Up Now So It Can Stay Clean Later
Before you can keep your house clean, you have to get it clean. Don’t try to do it all in one day. Doing it all at once will only encourage you to get frustrated and quit. Instead, work on clutter in a few rooms each day and once that’s done start on vacuuming, dusting, and washing. Clutter that doesn’t have a place should be put in a box to wait for the next step.
Example Big Cleaning Schedule:
- Monday: Clean Clutter in Living Rooms, Dining Rooms, Dens.
- Tuesday: Clean Clutter in Kitchens and Bathrooms, including overflowing junk drawers.
- Wednesday: Vacuum, sweep, and mop.
- Thursday: Clean Surfaces, sinks, and toilets.
- Friday: Clean up bedrooms and do any extra laundry.
- Saturday: Do Clutter Boxes.
- Sunday: Clean up miscellaneous paperwork and toys.
Much easier said than done right? What the kids are doing while you work on your initial clean-up really depend on their age. For the youngest kids, this can happen during nap time. Toddlers and kindergartners can be given play or coloring time. Older kids, if they’re not in school, can benefit from being involved in the process.
Before you start this big process, decide where in the house your children’s toys belong. That’s right: not every room needs a toy spot. Figure out where the toys need to be stored when they’re not in use. Get those toys packed away where they belong. One of the biggest challenges I had when I first had my son is that I couldn’t really afford a big fancy toy box for him. In the meantime I bought a simple storage tub that was short enough for him to get his toys out of and used it instead. (Now that same tub is used to store old toys and another for old clothes.) Throw out or donate the toys that need to go and get the others in their place. If the kids are old enough, it would be a good time to enforce one-toy-out-at-a-time when they’re in common areas like a living room.
Do you have a bunch of your own things in the common areas? Make use of baskets or even special organizing baskets to put the clutter in an organized place. If these items don’t belong in the living areas, put them where they go or put them aside in a basket until Saturday’s activity.
Start by doing the dishes. If it can’t fit in the dishwasher, it’s time to wash it by hand. Get the dishes completely finished before starting the rest. Just like Monday’s cleaning spree, toys should be in their new designated storage area and adult clutter should be put in a home or set aside in a box. If your kitchen includes a junk drawer, take time to go through it and decide what needs to be kept and what needs to be thrown out or moved.
While you’re doing the bathrooms, check your makeup for expiration times and throw out any that are past due for their date with the trash can. If your makeup collection gets out of hand, consider a better storage container for it.
Vacuum carpets. If you’ve been working on cleaning while younger kids are sleeping, this is one part you’ll need to do while they’re awake. You can go the babywearing route while you work or put them somewhere safe while you get this finished. We’ve started using the Dyson Zorb Carpet Maintenance Powder beforehand and it definitely gets rid of child and pet induced smells. Sweep and mop hard surface. If you’re a Swiffer user but want to be a little more ‘green’, Simplee makes a set of organic, reusable microfiber refills for it.
Take some time to check for dishes that didn’t fit in the dishwasher and get them done. Walk through the common areas and maintain your clutter cleanup from earlier that week.
Clean surfaces like countertops, sinks, tubs, and toilets. Disinfecting wipes are great for this, but if they’re not your preference just go about it in your preferred method. Spray bathtubs and shower surfaces with an anti-mildew cleaner. Make sure to double check the bases of toilets and the floor around/behind it. (Especially if you have little boys.)
Check throughout the areas of the house you’ve cleaned up previously for clutter.
Out of sight, out of mind, but still need cleaned. Get laundry going and make beds. Clear all surfaces in the room and only put back up what needs to go there. Tuck other items in storage basket inside bedside tables or find an appropriate place for them. Make sure there are no clothes on the floor, even in closets.
Remember those boxes from the previous days when things just don’t seem to have a home? Look through them today. Organize them into what gets thrown out, what gets donated, and what gets kept. For what you’re keeping, find it a reasonable home in an appropriate room.
Touch-Ups Continue cleaning up the toys and miscellaneous paperwork that can clutter the house. Walk around and look for things out of place.
After getting this rough week of housework done, you can now just do very basic work daily to maintain the clutter-free and clean home you’ve created. Be realistic about your goals for the house. We can’t all be June Cleaver, but we can present the best version of us.