Updated: Sep 4
Is your house in a shambles, that looks like a baby store exploded? Or, do you feel like you spend more time cleaning than playing with your kids? In either case, keeping your house clean with kids is about creating a balance.
Of course, you don't want your house to be so dirty that your kids are eating things off of the floor, but you don't want to spend your time scrubbing the baseboards with a toothbrush when your kids want to play either.
Over the years, as a busy, working mom I have come up with a schedule that seems to work most of the time. My house isn't perfect, but it doesn't look like an episode of hoarders. It is what I call "clean enough." And I used to work for hotels and have to check that the rooms were spotlessly clean, so I know a bit what I am talking about!
Clean the Kitchen Every Day
Honestly, sometimes, with a toddler it is more like 3 times a day because she also does crafts in the kitchen.
I am talking dishes, counters and floor.
My partner and I make an effort to get the kitchen clean every day. Usually, one of us will do the dishes in the morning, and again at night. During the day, I work from home so typically I will wipe down the counters and sweep the floor. I also wipe down the dinner table after my toddler is finished with her crafts. We recently got her a craft table though, so that has gotten better.
Typically, the whole process will take about 30 minutes, spread out through the day. That can be broken up into manageable 5-10 minute chunks where one of us is cleaning while our little one is eating, at daycare, or otherwise occupied.
Once in a while I may let the dishes slide for a night if I am really tired, but the kitchen is my priority since we are feeding our kids from there, and I don't want them getting some weird germs because I left food scraps sitting too long.
Every day, pick one other chore.
Most chores don't need to be done every day. When I was a new mom with my first baby and a small apartment, I used to clean everything every day. That isn't always realistic though, especially if you have multiple kids or a bigger house.
Over the years, I have come up with the solution of "kitchen +1." That way, I get to the chores mostly on a weekly basis.
One day you can dust, another vacuum, another day do laundry, etc. Or, if you want, you can pick one area to de-clutter every day (if you are like me and have random cupboards where you just stuff things to have them out of sight!).
Usually, whatever random chore I decide on will take about another half an hour, depending what it is. If it is laundry, that can be split up into 5-10 minute chunks like with the kitchen. If it is decluttering or cleaning the bathroom, typically I will do that on my lunch break from work.
Clean as You Go.
When it comes to the kids toys or art projects, I try to have them clean as they go. Although sometimes it is more me cleaning and my 4 year old complaining. I don't let her start a new craft or game until the previous one is cleaned up.
I do the same thing with my own stuff. Use a sweater? Put it away or in the laundry hamper when you are done.
We also make sure to give the living room a general once-over and put things away right before bed, that way the house isn't in a total shambles when you get up in the morning. It doesn't always work out that way, but if things are left out from the night before we typically put those away in the morning too before the toddler gets up.
Another thing we do every day is turn down the bedding, and open up the windows to air out the house. I recently found out from my partner that the sunlight helps to kill germs. So, any time you can open the curtains, do it! Also, sometimes, I will light incense or some good-smelling candles throughout the house in the mornings too.
Remember, You are A Team.
I know in some families, mom does all the cleaning. For me that is a no-go. Luckily, I have a partner who cleans too! We compliment each other pretty well too, since he is good at organizing and I am the one who likes to do the scrubbing.
Also, it is good to get kids involved in cleaning at an early age too, so that they think of it as a normal part of the way things are. It teaches them good values, like helpfulness, besides the cleaning skills themselves.
My 4 year old can help with dusting, sweeping, putting away toys, and wiping up any of her spills. She can help with wiping down the kitchen, and putting away dishes with supervision. Once they get to be teens, they should be able to do any of the household chores that an adult can do.
We have our teens do their own laundry, clean their room, put things away, clean the bathroom, etc. We also have everyone put their dishes in the dishwasher after being used, or in the sink if the dishwasher is running. Having everyone do their own laundry is a game changer too.
Use the Right Cleaning Products for the Job.
This one right here really helps me to clean things faster! Like I said before, I used to work for hotels, so I know what products will clean things the fastest. Having the right tools for a job makes it easier, and you don't waste a bunch of time on scrubbing things more than you have to!
Also, when I am cleaning something with a spray cleaner, I will spray a LOT. This might not be the best life choice, but I buy most of the cleaning products at the dollar store, so I value my time more than my cleaning supplies!
When I clean the kitchen, I have really gotten to like using Microban cleaner (This isn't a sponsored article, but it could be!) and a sponge with a scrubber on one side. I go over the counters once with the scrubbing side, then with the regular side, then wipe the last of the grime with a paper towel.
For floors, I really like the Swiffer wet, except on the bathroom floor, I do use a regular mop and all-purpose cleaner. I don't mess with the bucket of water, I just wet the mop, pour the cleaner on the floor, then mop clean.
Scrubbing Bubbles is great for the bathroom. And, if you spray it and let it sit on the shower while you clean the rest of the bathroom, the shower will come clean much faster!
Windex and Mr.Clean Magic Eraser will take anything off of paint. My daughter does cosplay, so we have gotten things on the walls over the years, it always comes right off without chipping your paint.
Orange-Scented air-freshener will get rid of the scent of anything else. You can also use orange peels or orange potpourri to do the same thing. The scent of orange will even get rid of the scent of cigarette smoke!
Carpet cleaner doesn't just work for carpets. You can even use it on other soft surfaces in the house (think couch or chairs!). Check THIS out if you are interested.
On Saturday mornings, we will do a big cleaning of the whole house. It usually takes a couple of hours, and we will catch up on everything that didn't get done during the week. We usually dust, sweep, mop, vacuum, mow the lawn, pull weeds and anything else miscellaneous that may need to get done.
Spring Cleaning, Fall Cleaning and Monthly Cleaning.
Some tasks don't need to be done all the time, so it may help to set a calendar reminder. Your air filters probably only need to be changed every 6 months. Baseboards probably about the same.
Windowsills only need to be cleaned monthly unless you live somewhere with a lot of dust.
In the spring, we usually get all of our patio furniture out, and need to clean the outdoor living space, so that we are ready for having guests over. We also need to till the flower beds and plant new plants too.
In the fall, there is winterizing to be done, like cleaning the gutters, shutting off the swamp cooler, covering up outdoor water spigots, and filling in cracks in the walls to keep the heat in during the winter.
When you have small kids, all the cleaning that needs to be done can seem overwhelming. (Been there!) But once you shift your mindset away from a need to be the perfect Suzy Homemaker, and start using these cleaning hacks, you will start to feel like it is manageable.
If you have any other questions, or would like more tips, let me know in the comments!
As always, if this article resonates with you, feel free to share on your socials!