Disclosure: This post was sponsored by SC Johnson. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I get quite a few comments on Instagram asking how my house is this clean. Now – full disclaimer – it isn’t. I photograph the clean corners in my house and sometimes I’ll quickly tidy up a space (or move things around) for a photo. I just do not like to document the mess – it stresses me out and I always get distracted by the mess in an otherwise nice photo when I’m scrolling through my pics so I prefer to let the really messy spaces go undocumented. (They’re documented in my head. Insert winky face.) That said, my husband and I do make a conscious effort to keep the house as clean as possible. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of a clean home and I find we all enjoy ourselves more when things are tidied up.
I’ve got to say, though, keeping a house clean and tidy when you’ve got next young kids is next to impossible. I’ve hardly ever managed to have the whole house clean at once and, even then, it’s never like that for long. But it is possible to keep on top of things, room by room, floor by floor. Here are my top 5 tips for cleaning with young kids.
[ 1 ] Involve your kids
Making your kids a part of the cleaning solution is absolutely the number one secret to keeping a house clean and tidy. This way they’re part of the solution and not only part of the problem. Getting your kids used to tidying up and cleaning alongside you takes some practice and patience, but it can be done. The next four tips will help you get your kiddos to join in.
[ 2 ] Start them young
Toddlers love to mimic mommy, so make use of that window of opportunity to get them used to cleaning whilst they still think it’s fun. If you start a routine while they’re young, they’ll soon come to realize that they’re an integral part of keeping the house in order. They key is to find things that they can successfully do at a young age and make sure you’re specific in your requests. “Clean up your room” won’t work for a 2 or 3 year old, but “put your cars back into the car bin” will. Dusting is also a nice and easy task for a toddler.
[ 3 ] Get them their very own cleaning supplies
Whenever I start cleaning, the kids want to do exactly what I’m doing. So when I’m vacuuming, they want to use the vacuum themselves. Having cleaning toys that look as close to your version as possible is great. We have a red Miele vacuum and got the toy version – the red is not readily available anymore but the newer yellow version is a great alternative. Or, better yet, have multiples of the exact same cleaning supplies. For example, have a couple of extra dusters for the kids. That way, they can use the same thing as mommy and they are actually cleaning and not just playing pretend. (I always think the toy vacuum should have a parent-controlled option to switch to actual vacuuming so they can be useful when they’re using it lol.)
We also have spray bottles filled with water for them to use whenever I’m using an actual cleaning product. For example, they’ll spray water on the mirror and wipe it down whilst I’m using Windex. Or, when we’re pre-treating clothes to be put in the wash, I’ll use my absolute favourite stain remover, Shout (seriously the best for all of life’s messes and I’ve tested sooooo many over the years) whilst my kids will spray the clothes that don’t need pretreatment with water (I always sort through and make them a pile of clothes that they can spray and put directly in the washing machine). This way the kids don’t use an actual cleaning product on something they’re not supposed to and wiping up a little extra water from inevitable drips and “misses” is not a problem.
[ 4 ] Make it fun
We always put on happy dance music whenever we’re cleaning and then have a bit of a dance party as we’re cleaning. The kids will jump right in and join me for a little while and, after 15 or so minutes, will usually taper off and just start playing by themselves, which is more than fine with me. I also find giving them their favourite cleaning tasks is best. For example, my kids love spraying mirrors, windows and doors, and then wiping them down. They also love dusting and using a broom. Even if those are not the things that need cleaning, giving them their favourite tasks while you get some actual cleaning done is a win in my books.
Another way to make it fun is to have a clean up song. We actually learned ours at music class way back when and it’s super simple (“toys away, toys away, all the toys away today”) but we sing it whenever we’re tidying up and it’s definitely conditioned them to start tidying up when we start singing (it’s magical).
[ 5 ] Get rid of things
Having kids means you’re constantly bringing more stuff into your home. More clothes, more toys, more storage options for those clothes and toys. It’s a vicious cycle and, if you’re not careful, you’ll become a prime candidate for Hoarders. (I kid, I kid, but it sure feels like that sometimes, doesn’t it?) I usually always have a garbage bag lying around that I’m constantly filling with things to bring to a donation centre. When I tidy something up and the basket, shelf, etc. is overflowing, I always try to get rid of a few items to make the space more manageable again.
The one thing in, one thing out is a good method (aka whenever you bring something new into your home – clothing, toys, etc – something else must be thrown out or donated). I’m personally not very good at this but I do go through each part of my house every few months and get rid of anything we no longer need. My rule of thumb is to get rid of 20% of any given category. For example, when I’m going through each person’s wardrobe, I’ve got to get rid of the 20% I like least (or that doesn’t fit anymore). Our closets are always brimming (being a mom blogger who works with so many amazing small kids clothing shops doesn’t exactly help) and this is a good way to streamline. The key is to do it several times in relatively quick succession (e.g. within a month or two). Something that wasn’t in your “bottom 20%” the first go around, will become your “bottom 20%” when you don’t have “worse” clothes to compare it to. And, before you know it, you will have cut your wardrobe in half and it will be filled with only things you love. This same logic can be applied to almost anything in your house and can help you manage the amount of “stuff” (aka things you will have to tidy up) in your house.
What are some of the ways you’re able to keep your house clean and tidy with young kids?