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Although I consider myself a modern homemaker, I’m not much of a housekeeper. In fact, cleaning the house, especially scrubbing toilets, makes me very grumpy. Coming home to a clean house is such a wonderful gift and if you can find it in your budget I highly recommend outsourcing cleaning day. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure most of us can’t justify a full time maid, which means the house still needs regularly tidying. Keeping the house picked up with two kids (and to be fair, a creative AKA messy mama) can be a real challenge. I am no expert in this field, in fact at no point is it more clear that I’ve fallen behind than on the days that our cleaning ladies are due to arrive. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who has led a mad frenzy of straightening up so that the house can actually be cleaned.) I have however developed a few tactics that make tiding up, with help from Jude no less, much easier. Ideally these steps are taken regularly, but in a pinch I can vouch for their their “hurry the maids will be here in twenty minutes” effectiveness!
1. One Thing Out At A Time - Okay if we could all master this one we wouldn’t need any other tips, but it’s still worth mentioning. We try our best to enforce this rule. It requires constant reminders and honestly, sometimes more vigilance than I can muster, but we try and it helps. I should note that one year olds have no concept of one thing out at a time, my best advice here is to limit the number of baby toys so that you can pick them up easily.
2. Hidden Storage - The hardest things for kids to clean up are those that they wish to return to. An intense lego build, elaborate small world, or carefully constructed train track can be heartbreaking to dismantle. Try to find a place where these can be stored intact. We love our trundle table for this purpose. Another idea might be a board for playing on that can live on the closet floor or slide onto an empty shelf. I also try to have storage bins where the play happens, for example: there are legos, blocks, and books stored in our entertainment center in the living room.
3. Clear Bins - Clear plastic shoe boxes are my secret weapon. They are extremely affordable, stack beautifully, and allow their contents to be seen with ease. But the very best part of the shoe bin storage is that they only hold so much stuff. A shoe box, even one full of little play mobil figures or plastic bugs, is a manageable amount to clean up. And it also really helps with the one thing out at a time rule. One bin at a time is an easy concept for a kid to grasp.
4. Musical Clean Up - This is a fun way to make cleaning up feel like a game. It works especially well at the end of playdates when you have many kids competing, but I’ve played with Jude many times so I can assure you it does not require a crowd. The concept is simple, you put on an up beat song and see who can clean up the most toys before the music stops! The best is when you’ve got them begging for a rematch!
5. Basket Blitz - Sometimes the shear volume of mess is overwhelming. You enter a room and it looks as though a tornado has struck. My trick for handling this is to put everything into a big laundry basket. Note: I’ve been known to stick said basket in the garage right before the cleaning people arrive. With everything in one spot things can be put away one at a time, meanwhile you can see the floor and your kiddo is not stumped on where to even begin.
These tips are of course created with young kids in mind but check out this article for help with teens. And if you’re looking to conquer your own clutter, I found The 5 C’s of an Organization Wizard really helpful.
Do you have any tricks for keeping a tidy home? How do you conquer the toy-nado? I’d love to hear your tips and hope you found these five helpful!
Here’s to tidy kids and sane moms!
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