CLEAN HOUSE WITH A TODDLER
My definition of ‘clean house’ now could not be more different. If the toys are in their baskets and there is a clear walking path from room to room, the house is clean.
My husband and I have a 3 year old daughter. We recently adopted a child who just turned two. To say the least, our household went from quiet and peaceful to somewhat manageable to all out crazy with two toddlers! (We wouldn’t have it any other way). There is never a dull moment and the days seem to get away from me, especially when cleaning is involved. We both work and don’t have the luxury of having a clean house by a professional so it’s up to us to keep it in check. With two kids at the age of ‘no means yes’ and spills are an everyday occurrence, cleaning, let alone keeping a clean house, can be a chore. I’ve learned a few things along the way from some family members and other working moms on how to clean with toddlers. I hope you can use some of my tricks to make your life more manageable.
Definition of a clean house
Pre-children, I had a cleaning routine. I left my chores to the weekend but they got done and crossed off the list. Our home always felt fairly clean. I lived by the motto A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place. If my mother-in-law called and said she was on her way over, I don’t think I would have screamed and wondered where to start cleaning. My definition of ‘clean’ now could not be more different. If the toys are in their baskets and there is a clear walking path from room to room, the house is clean. When the bathrooms are usable and not so disgusting you’d rather go to the neighbor’s house, the house is clean. If the kitchen isn’t declared an ‘off limits zone’ by the health department, we have a clean house.
Life gets in the way. What can I say. I do strive for a clean house but I’m more relaxed in my approach because time is hard to come by. During the week, it’s more about ‘maintenance mode’. My time to clean is just after the kids go to bed. I start in the kitchen by making sure things are put away and the counters and table are wiped clean and ready for the next day. Then, I go room by room and pick up things and put them in their place. I make my way upstairs doing the same and eventually make it to bed. On the weekends, when the kiddos go down for naps, it’s my time to shine. When they are awake, I want to spend time with them so naptime is essential for the chores to get done.
Here’s what I focus on:
Dusting: I find it very easy these days to use the disposable duster ‘cloths’ that you can get at your local grocer or home improvement store. They trap a lot of dust which means they go a long way. Plus, I find that I can use them in every room in the house and on almost every surface.
Countertops: Another easy go to trick for me is to wipe down counters, door knobs, the toilets, faucets, chairs, etc. with disinfecting wipes. Not only do they do wonders on the multiple sticky surfaces I find in obscure places around the house, they also disinfect by killing germs that linger. (They also work for dusting as well).
Get organized: I found myself running from one room to the other looking for cleaning supplies. My easiest and best trick: Purchase a plastic bucket or container at the dollar store. Put cleaning essentials for each floor of your house in one bucket. It’s easier to take a bucket from room to room versus running and up down the stairs for items you forgot.
Toys: How do you clean your toys? I never really thought about this until I was visiting a friend. She told me her dog met her at the back door with a bird in its mouth just minutes before my kids and I arrived. Next thing I knew, the dog was playing with his toy and her child grabbed it from the dog, played with it and put her hands in her mouth. Gross, I know.
I discovered an easy way to clean toys. At least those that do not include batteries, have lose parts (think helicopters) and or are not wood or have the ability to let water in. I put them in the dishwasher. Yes, the dishwasher. Put your detergent in, set it on the gentle cycle and your work is done. (For those toys that cannot be cleaned in the dishwasher, the disinfecting wipes are great).
For other days where I have more time, I try and incorporate cleaning advice from my mother-in-law. After raising four kids, she is the authority on making a clean house. Her first bit of advice was to de-clutter the ‘adult’ things. After further explanation, she asked me if I really needed the mixer that I use once a year on the kitchen counter. She then asked to consider if I really needed four picture frames on the bookshelf or so many knick-knacks. By de-cluttering things that take up space, especially those without deep meaning, it does make my cleaning routine faster. I don’t have to dust so many little things (or dust around them). Another piece of advice is keep, toss and donate. Ok, this isn’t cleaning, per say, but it makes cleaning easy. Every six months or so, go through the kids toys. What have you not seen them play with? What have they outgrown? What is broken? It is always good to empty the toy chest and decide what to keep, what to donate and what to toss. (Pairing down really does make for easier clean up)!
My mother-in-law’s last and best piece of advice was to keep the kids on a routine. Part of their routines can include making their bed or at least putting the covers, stuffed animals and pillows on their bed every morning. Have them put their dirty clothes in a designated spot. Have them help pick up their bedroom before going to bed. This will make your job of dusting, vacuuming or sweeping much easier in the long run!
Cleaning with toddlers is not always easy but remember, tackling a little everyday can make the job less overwhelming and more manageable. Your kids won’t be toddlers forever so getting them involved in the cleaning process now will mean in a few years, you will have experienced cleaners on your hands! Good luck!