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It never fails.
You put laundry in a basket, and it ends up on the floor.
You put toys in a basket, and it gets dumped out.
You clean the kitchen, and someone comes in and makes a mess.
You feel like the only way to keep your home clean is to clean it and then never enter it again. Your life officially becomes the meme that says, “I’ve cleaned the house, so if you could stop living here, that would be great!” We all know that is not going to happen, but there are some things that you can do to keep your house clean.
- Give them something to do while you clean—I once saw a mom who put her little one in a box with crayons and let them have at it!
- Make cleaning a game with a prize at the end—if they can walk, they can help clean. Even if you give a piece of trash at a time to throw away for you, that gives you a chance to clean another area before they come back. Once all the trash is gone, give them a prize.
- Let them clean alongside you—give them paper towels or a cloth and let them wipe things down, allowing them to feel as though they are helping. That is a great way to teach them to help around the house at a young age.
- Arrange your home to where minimal cleaning is needed—yes, I know this sounds like a pipe dream, but it is possible. Consider using zip-tie locks or containers that are not easy to open to keep them from getting into things.
- Keep play and meal areas separate to minimize messes—it is tempting to give them something to play with as they wait for a meal. Doing so will only lead to more cleaning for you because you will have to put what they have away, get them fed, and clean both areas.
- Clean during their naptime—after they are down, take an hour or so to clean whatever you can as they sleep. You may not get the whole house clean, but if you can get those high-traffic areas together, you will have done something.
- Hire help—another dream, I know. If the littles are your only, consider asking for help. That will give you a chance to hold them at bay while the sense of normalcy gets restored in your home. If the person helping is someone you know and trust, take the littles for a break from the house. Let them release all of their energy. When you get back home, you can put them straight to bed and prepare for the next leg of your day.
It takes a lot of doing to get into a good routine, but it is possible! The littles will not be little for long, so know that the time for them to start doing for themselves is not far away. One day, they will understand all that you do to keep them going, and then you can shake your head and smile at them—all while handing them that cleaning bucket! Hold on, Mom! It will get done.
If they are older, it may be time for a responsibility or chore chart. One option could be dividing your house into zones, and everyone is responsible for their zone. Create a check-off list of things to be done in that space. For example, each child cleans their room and another room close to theirs. Consider creating a bucket of cleaning supplies they need to clean the area. Have a process for them letting you know when things are out or running low.
To help ensure the little kids in your life stay on task, try using chore-related apps which allow them to earn points based on the chores they complete. Yes, they should do it simply because it needs doing; however, knowing that they are working toward something can have just as much impact.
Establish a time of day when certain chores need to be done and rotate them out so that everyone knows how to clean every zone in the house. That gives you a chance to do the things that only you can do, which may not be safe for them. It also gives you a break from spending hours cleaning and having your name called a billion times.
Understand that they may not clean to your level of perfection, but you must let them learn. As frustrating as that learning curve will be, you cannot always step over them, and do things for them. When you do that, you send them into a cycle of thinking that they cannot do it. Then, when you ask them to do it another time, they will not want to because of how you reacted the last time, so now you are doing damage control to get the house clean!
A third option would be house cleaning at night once everyone is out of the way for the night. Put your earbuds in and go to town! If music is not available or does not help, consider listening to an audiobook or calling a friend on the phone and talking while you clean. Sometimes, venting while cleaning can help you to get it done faster or with more effort.
That will also give your mind a break because you are paying more attention to the conversation or what is playing and thinking about that. By the time it ends, you will realize just how much you have gotten done. You may be exhausted after, but that is where your self-care regimen comes into play.
Have a cool-down activity for yourself and your family so that cleaning will not seem like the most laborious task on Earth. Everyone needs a time out after cleaning to see what needs to be done next or to simply chill out and sit still.