Friday, January 7, 2011

How to Keep a Clean House with Kids: Archives

*Originally posted 4/30/10 - I figured this would be a good one to re-post with the New Year...just a quick update. We still do all of these same things. Little Miss even asks me sometimes - "Is it cleaning day yet?" - my husband says I've brainwashed her. Maybe...but I'm not going to ruin a good thing.

It's all in how they perceive our attitudes (this goes with anything, not just cleaning) - their little attitudes will follow suit. I love cleaning day, hence, she loves cleaning day. We crank the music and have a great time!

The younger you can start them - the better! 

I can think better when my house is in order. I feel better. I'm happier. I have more time to play with Little Miss instead of running around trying to pick up the clutter. do I keep my house clean with a messy two year old? After professionally cleaning for 9 years - I've got some tricks. Here's what works for me...


Rinse and load the dishwasher as we use dishes - I hate dishes stacked in my sink, and when they're not rinsed they get stinky and stuck on! Plus, if I do it right away and keep up on it - it only takes a half minute more.

Once the dishwasher is full I run it. And unload when I remember (usually naptime). Or my mister will unload for me when he gets home. I hate unloading, and he hates loading. So it works out to split up the task.

(note the play iron in the dishwasher - picked that up at a thrift store, any cleaning toys you can find will help)

If Little Miss is awake I let her help unload it. She loves to put the silverware in the drawer - so I load it accordingly, dangerous knives in the back out of her reach.

We pick up toys and books with Little Miss before we get any more out. Toddlers, kids in general, have a short attention span. It doesn't take long for Little Miss to move on to something else. Since she was just tiny, we've made it a rule and a habit that before we can play with something else - we put our toys away instead of leaving them around the house.

She knows where things go. We sing a fun "Clean Up" song. She usually complies happily. But when she doesn't want to help...I firmly, kindly, and matter-of-fact-ly state, "If you don't help pick up your toys, mommy will have to take them away" - a natural consequence. Toys are a privilege.

She has seen me follow through on this and knows it means business - so she jumps right in to help. Whatever consequence you choose - make sure to follow through!

We do a quick 10 minute clean up before daddy gets home and as Little Miss says "So he can be happy". It's true. We clean up so daddy can come home to a nice, peaceful, clean house. We make it a fun speed game. See who can clean up the fastest.

We do another quick 10 minute clean up before tubby time too. This is when Little Miss tucks her dolly's in for the night. Then the next morning we wake up to a tidy house.

Helping Little Miss pick up her toys has taught her to help others clean up even when she wasn't involved in making the mess. I've seen her jump in to help others before without being asked - it's awesome.


How do you deep clean with kids around? Well, if the underlying theme wasn't obvious above, I'll just state it...involve them!! So I don't get overwhelmed I have a weekly routine I are the basics...

I do all our laundry on Thursday. Little Miss helps collect clothes, bedding, and dish rags. Then she helps carry things to the washing machine. I usually have her help carry her clothes, so she has a sense of personal responsibility. She loves watching the soap and water go in, and she loves helping throw the clothes in.

Friday is our serious cleaning day. Why not Saturday? Because if we get chores done on Friday than we have the whole day Saturday to play with daddy!

I can get the entire house scrubbed top to bottom with Little Miss's help in about two hours and 6 easy steps (this is only possible if I've been keeping up on our daily chores). An added bonus - doing it fast is my workout for the day. Really, I break a sweat. =)
  1. First we clean the fish bowl - she watches while standing on a chair and...doesn't really help much, other than talking "fishy" through it - mostly for the safety of our beta. I get this done in about 5 minutes.
  2. Then we go around the house wiping things down. I take a clorox disinfectant wipe to all the doorknobs, remotes, handles, and light switches. Little Miss uses a baby wipe and cleans her toys, and pretty much anything within her reach. She follows me around each room and is even reaching the doorknobs now.
  3. Then we both get our dusters (I purchased a mini one for her at the dollar store) and get all the dust bunnies in every room. She loves to dust her toys and her bookshelf off.
  4. Next it's bathroom time. After I equip her with a special glove, slightly damp rag, and barely full spray bottle I go to work...toilet bowl cleaner in to soak while I wipe down the mirror, counter, and sink. Then I disinfect all surfaces on our toilet and scrub the inside - while she wipes down her dolly's potty. We switch places and she gets on her stepping stool to check my work on the counter with her rag, while I move on to the tub. Done.
  5. Time to vacuum. Little Miss was scared of the vacuum for a long time - but now she likes to go around "vacuuming" with the wand attachment or her play vacuum (sound effects included) while I do the real stuff.
  6. Final step, mopping. I love mopping. Weird I know. We move everything off of the kitchen/bathroom floors and into the hall or living room. Here it gets really fun. The kitchen chairs magically become train cars and of course Little Miss picks out stuffed animals to go on a train ride with her.
    While I sweep she tells me where they're going. Who they're going to visit. And says "choo-choo" a lot! When the train is stopped at the station, Little Miss likes to help sweep with her very own super cheap dollar store broom. The train ride continues while I mop and while the floor is drying I get in on the train action too.
Two hours tops, six steps, completely clean house that smells lemony fresh and we still have a whole day ahead of us to play!

A clean house helps me be a better mom because I can focus on Little Miss and not be distracted and discouraged by the chaos clutter brings.

Involving your kids in cleaning, teaching them how to clean, why it's important to clean, and making it fun is one of the best gifts you can give them. My mom taught me how to clean at a very, very young age and I am so grateful!

Have any cleaning tips/tricks that involve your kids? Pass on the genius.


  1. I am needing this. I am in the process of scheduling my weekly cleaning list and love a lot of your ideas! You are amazing Barb!

  2. I have four kids, so laundry weekly is NOT an option. I do 2-3 loads a DAY (so so so sad!) and I find that the best way to keep it from piling up is to put it away as SOON as the dryer is done. The kids can/do help, but still, the moment it's done, it's folded and put away, then I can keep moving with my day.

  3. Oh and I totally agree about the dishes. Dishes and laundry are constant, never-ending pains in the rear. So, rather than letting it pile up, just keep them flowing.


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