11 sneaky ways to keep a clean house with kids
You may have envisioned how clean you would keep your house once kids were in the picture, but the stark reality might be drastically different, and its probably a lot harder than you initially thought.
Kids (especially toddlers) can be sticky, messy, loud, and they love to rearrange things for absolutely no reason at all. You may be mourning the tidy house you once had, but with these 11 sneaky tips, you can still keep your house (mostly) clean with kids around.
Lets me make one thing clear first. You probably wont ever have the perfectly clean house you did before you had kids. That lived in look will probably become your new normal because, well…people do live in your house. Cleaning or keeping a clean house with kids around can make things more challenging, but not impossible!
The biggest tip I can give anyone trying to keep their house clean with kids around is: you have to change your definition of what a clean house means after having kids. If you start by changing your mindset, things may not seem as messy.
You will never have a perfectly clean house when kids are around because they could care less about what the house looks like. They just dont care about the trail of toys they left behind them, or that rapper they left on the kitchen floor. You may care about the state of your house, but odds are your kids dont.
If you keep extremely high expectations for having a clean house, you will drive yourself nutty. You will be spending all day cleaning instead of spending that time with your kids.
There are a few tricks you can implement in your daily lives to keep things clean and (mostly) tidy, without feeling like you are spending your whole day doing.
This post might contain affiliate links. While its at no extra cost to you, I might receive a small commission. Please see my disclaimer if you would like more information.
Tips to keep your house clean with kids around:
1- Don’t expect your house to be clean at all times (Instead, pick the most important times)
If kids are home during the day, things will be messy. The toys will be out, and they will probably get food on the floor, or knock over the dog bowl. Its just a fact. You might want to clean up the dog water, but leave the toys until they have moved on. Otherwise, you will spend your whole day picking up toys just for them to pull them out again.
Instead of worrying all day about the mess, I instead make sure my house is tidy before nap time and before I go to sleep for the night. This allows me to have a clean slate when I wake up in the morning. Those two times are the most important to me, they may be different for you.
I try not to worry too much about cleaning in between those times. I clean as I go to try to minimize the mess later on but I dont let this consume my day.
Generally the only thing I will clean before we are finished with breakfast is making the beds, which we do after everyone is up for the day.
Before nap time
- We do our best to involve our toddler in picking up his toys before nap time. He doesnt always do it, but its good to start setting the example early.
- I do a quick kitchen pickup once lunch is finished, vacuum and sweep if needed.
- I quickly pick up any thing that is out of place in the living room (toys, random stuff etc..)
By doing these things before nap time it allows you not to stress about cleaning up the house before your kids wake up. This allows you to have a peaceful environment during a time which for some, might be the only alone time you have to get more important things done like work, or taking a nap yourself!
- One parent always cleans the kitchen after dinner while the other plays with the kids or starts the bedtime routine.
- I fold and put away one load of laundry.
- I do a quick sweep around the house to make sure everything is where it belongs before I hop in bed.
When I do a quick clean after the kids are in bed, I know it will stay clean until they wake up. This allows me to sleep easy knowing my house will be clean when I wake up to start out morning routine. Theres nothing better then starting the day with a clean house.
Its not about having your house clean at all times, its about picking the most important times.
Related: The ideal stay at home mom schedule that will keep you sane
2- Clean as you go
I find this to be easier said then done in some situations, but it is still a good mindset to have when you are going about your day. When you make breaksfast in the morning, try to clean up as you go so you have less to clean up when the time comes. Put things back in the fridge or cupboards, put dirty plates in the sink instead of on the counter etc..
I hardly ever walk through my house empty handed. Im either carrying a kid around or I am grabbing items that need put away. I keep the same mentality now as I did when I used to work in a restaurant full hands in, full hands out.
I try to only clean or tidy during designated times, but if im walking by something I make sure to grab it and put it back. It only takes a few seconds. Its about working smarter not harder, and efficiency is key!
When things start to pile up thats when cleaning becomes overwhelming. Try to be one step ahead of the game by cleaning as you go, so when the time comes to tidy up the house, its a lot less overwhelming.
3- Don’t clean during nap time
It seems like the perfect time to clean, doesnt it? Ive come to realize that nap time is one of the only times I get to myself, so im surely not going to be spending it cleaning.
I also find it important to clean in the presence of my kids (whether they are helping me or not), so they know that the house doesnt magically clean itself. It takes work and effort to keep a clean house, and I think its important for kids to see that.
If I have a large decluttering project, I might do that during nap time because it will be easier to do without the kids involved. This is something I will plan for in advance.
Nap time is when I like to catch up on work, shower, have some lunch, or even take a nap myself.
You ultimately have to make the decision what you want be spending nap time doing. If you want to clean, do it! If thats something you enjoy, then more power to you. For the majority of us, im sure there are other things we are wanting to put out energy into.
Related: How to get things done during nap time (without overdoing it)
4- Get the kids involved
This sometimes makes me cringe, but like I said before, I like to clean in the presence of my kids. I think its important to get the kids involved in cleaning from a young age, so they know what goes into keeping a clean house. Youd be surprised what they are capable of at a young age!
- Put a step stool in front of the sink and have them help you do dishes.
- Have them help you get the broom and vacuum out, or get them a toddler sized one so they can be involved in the process.
- Have them pick up their toys when they are done playing with them.
- Get them their own spray bottle so they can wipe down any messes they make. (My 2 year old loves doing this)
- They are also great at fetching diapers/wipes if there is a new baby around.
- Put a step stool in front of the sink and have them help you do dishes.
There are lots of things you can do to get your kids involved in the cleaning process. They may make messes doing it, but these are important life skills they will benefit from learning at a young age. And kids and toddlers love to be involved in anything youre doing, so its a win-win!
5- Don’t be afraid of screen time
Dont let screen time scare you. We are pro screen time in our house (within reason of course). I love having my kids help me with chores, but sometimes I want to be able to quickly clean up the mess without my tiny helpers making more messes.
If it is a time that I am wanting to involve our kids, we love this kids cleaning set. My son loves to use our broom and mop, but this allows him the same experience, but at a more appropriate size.
I usually allocate around 15 minutes or so for my kids to enjoy a show while I tidy up the house. That time allows me to get the things I need done so I can enjoy the rest of the day with my kids without worrying about cleaning.
Another time I like to use screen time is when I am cooking dinner. They love to help but sometimes its nice to prepare dinner in peace. Its a good wind down time for my kids before we eat.
When it comes to screen time, the benefits definitely outweigh the risks in my opinion.
6- Pick one cleaning task to focus on each day
If you have the means to hire someone to deep clean your house bi-weekly or even monthly, I think that is a great investment. If thats not an option, pick one deep cleaning project to accomplish each day, so you dont have to dedicate an entire day to it.
This might look like sanitizing the bathroom counter and cleaning the toilet one day, mopping the kitchen floor the next, and dusting all the living room surfaces the day after that. Pick a schedule that works for you and stick with it.
I find that doing one load of laundry each day helps eliminate a pile up at the end of the week. Do one load of laundry and finish it completely. Wash, dry, fold, and put away. Throw it in first thing in the morning and it will become a habit before you know it.
When you pick one cleaning task each day it will seem a lot less overwhelming at the end of the week. You can usually accomplish that task pretty quickly, within 20 minutes or so. I find this method to be so much more manageable with kids around. Now you can actually enjoy your weekend instead of thinking about all the cleaning you need to get done.
7- Do one load of laundry a day
Laundry is not my friend, I absolutely hate folding it and putting it away. Are there people that actually enjoy this part? There are times where I have lost count the amount of times I have restarted the same load in the washer because I forgot about it.
While I still struggle with laundry at times, this method has made laundry a lot less overwhelming.
I find that when I only do laundry once a week there are multiple loads to do, and I find myself not wanting to do any of it because it has gotten to the point where it is too overwhelming and time consuming.
By doing one load a day, or every few days and actually completing the whole task of washing, drying, folding & putting away. It is a lot more manageable, and you dont have to worry about your laundry room filling up with mountains of laundry.
Our laundry schedule:
- Sunday: Sheets get washed
- Monday- Kids clothes
- Wednesday- Mom & dads clothes
- Thursday-Saturday- Any other clothes that need washed (there is always something)
I always throw a load in first thing in the morning, and I fold and put away when I have time in the evening.
I dont always stick to this schedule, but knowing I need to do one load a day has held me accountable and made laundry a lot less stressful.
Another tip: Invest in multiple laundry baskets. Put them everywhere! Bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry room, Everywhere that clothes might land.
This way they arent piling up on the floor, and rather ending up in a basket and there is less to pick up at the end of the day.
8- Declutter your home
One of the best kept secrets to keep a house clean with kids around is to ditch the clutter. Start small and work your way up.
This isnt an easy task and I am definitely no expert. But I find that when I dont have clutter on the countertops, in drawers, or on the floor, I am a lot less stressed and it makes tidying up so much easier.
Purge, purge, purge! Clutter really does fill up the mind.
clutter is inevitable when multiple people are living in one house. Kids contribute a lot more to that clutter; toys being the biggest one, clothes, etc..
Whether you hire someone to help you with this task or you do it yourself, it will probably take some time. I would dedicate a day or two (depending on your level of clutter) and really get down to business.
Start with purging things from drawers, cabinets, and closets and you will quickly see how much space you have!
Once you are through the purging phase, you can start organizing these spaces so you can see everything you have and use that space more intentionally. Being able to see what you have is key, so they dont get forgotten way in the back.
A clutter free space is a clutter free mind (at least in my world). Having less stuff to clean up will make the day to day cleaning up grind a whole lot easier.
Related: Easy ways to declutter your home as a busy mom (more approachable and less time consuming)
9- Keep toys to a minimum
This goes hand and hand with decluttering.
You do not have to keep every toy a family member has ever given you, and you certainly dont have to have every toy out at all times.
Remember, this is your space and you get to decide what goes in it. Not your kids, not your mom or mother in law, YOU!
I will be honest, I get rid of a lot of plastic, light up, noise making toys my family gives me. Not because I dont appreciate them, but sometimes its hard to say no all the time.
A good way to be more intentional about the toys that enter your home is to be specific when a family asks what the kids want for Christmas or birthdays. A lot of the times they arent sure what to get anyways so you will be doing everyone a favor.
Some gift ideas that arent toys:
- Zoo or museum memberships
- craft or book subscriptions
- A larger or combined gift that you have had your eye on
The key is to be specific. Most of the time family doesnt know what to get, so let them know if they ask!
This will help keep the toys clutter to a minimum and hopefully bring more attention to the toys you do own!
Another tip: If grandparents or family members want to buy certain toys that you may not be fond of, let them know that its okay as long as they stay at their house. This eliminates unwanted toys at your house, while still allowing grandparents free range to pick out what they want. Its a win-win for everyone!
10- Toy rotation
No, you dont have to follow a Montessori education to rotate your childrens toys. Its a good ways to kick the extra toy clutter and also have your kids engage more with the toys they do have.
Studies have shown (source) that when there is less to choose from, children are more engaged with the toys that are available. Less really is more in this case. Kids tend to become overwhelmed with too many choices.
Rotation might look like:
- Have a designated closet or spot you store a majority of the toys. Rotate as needed. When they seem to be bored with what is out, you know its time to switch things up!
- Only keep a handful of toys out at a time.
- If you live in a small space and dont have a designated play room then this stands even more true. Less clutter = less cleanup and a happy mom!
- Investing in a toy shelf that you can display some of their favorite toys ,while also being able to store baskets with additional toys and books inside is key. This keeps everything in one place and makes pickup easier. You can rotate toys in and out as you see fit.
- If you do have a playroom, no problem! If you do, I would avoid making this a catch all for every toy in the house though. Try to be intentional about what goes in this room. Rotate toys as needed, and keep a clean space so your child stays interested. Remember, less is more.
11- Make it a priority
Lastly, all of this wont be possible unless you make it a priority. It has to be an absolute must in your daily routine in order to achieve any of this.
There will be days that you let things go, and that is absolutely okay. Each family is different and has their own set of priorities.
But I find that If I make it a priority to do a quick clean up before I get into bed, I am so much happier when I wake up in the morning. It only take a few minutes to put everything back in its place and you will thank yourself in the morning.
After a while, it will become normal and apart of your daily routine. It really makes all the difference in keeping a clean house with kids around.
A few tips for deep cleaning your house:
My biggest tip when it comes to deeper cleaning, like I stated above, is to pick one task a day. While you are doing one of your quick pick-ups, use that time to do it.
This way you arent dedicating an entire day too deep cleaning your house. If it is a bigger project like mopping, I like to wait until the kids are in bed so I dont have any little people walking on the floor when I am done.
By doing one task a day you are accomplishing bigger cleaning tasks at a much more approachable level.
One of the best purchases I have made is the bissell steal mop, it is easy to use, thoroughly cleans the floor without a lot of effort from you. I actually get excited about mopping with this tool.
The cleaning supplies you use matter
I am a big advocate of natural cleaning supplies for my family, and especially around my children. The toxic chemicals that are in conventional cleaning products can be detrimental to our health.
My favorite cleaning brand is branch basics, they have a starter pack with everything you will need. They pride themselves with only using natural products that are safe for you and your children.
I also highly recommend their laundry detergent and dryer balls, instead of conventional dryer sheets.
Cleaning tools that will make your life easier
The Bissell steam mop- seriously it will change your life.
This is the vacuum we have and it is amazing. While it is not a high end brand, it is one of the best vacuums I have owned. It is small, lightweight, portable, and cordless which I find important when living in small spaces. It is at a great price point and I have only good things to say about it.
These cleaning sponges are amazing. They are compostable, reusable, 100% all natural, and they dry super fast so they dont get that yucky smell like dish clothes get sometimes. I will never use a normal dish cloth again.
You don’t need to sacrifice having a clean house with kids around
Having a clean house with kids doesnt have to be impossible, but I do believe we need to readjust our meaning of clean during this short lived season.
When you allow times where you embarrass the mess instead of letting it consume you, you will be able to better enjoy that time with your family, instead of constantly worrying about the state of your house.
You will have a clean house again! It might not always be clean, but by implementing these tips the mess will start to feel less paralyzing, and I hope it helps give you some peace of mind that you can still take control of your messy house.
You might also like: