While children are the ones who make the messes, they can also help clean them up! Here are some basic routines that help keep a tidy home with kids. Post contains affiliate links.
Tidying a home with small children in it is like trying shovel snow while it’s still snowing.
It feels sorta pointless, but if you don’t at least shovel the snow while there’s a lull, then soon you’ll find yourself snowed in and unable to get out.
It’s the same with toys.
And all the kid stuff.
And all the normal stuff.
And everything else that lives in a house.
Now, I know may people embrace the whole “the house will look like a bomb for a few years thing” and if you are truly able to function better that way, then I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise.
However, if you hate the fact that your home looks like a football stadium after a ball game (Go Gators!), then I’m hoping these tips will help you.
Tidy Routines That Even Small Kids Can Do
Remember, if the house is in an overwhelming state of mess for YOU, imagine how it must feel to your child. Keep things simple and easy for both you and the kids.
1. Bed making and morning tidy
I’ve only recently gotten the kids to straighten their beds because, well, they weren’t able to make their beds. You can do a few things to make this easier like getting zip up sheets, a zip up comforter, or just teaching them (painstakingly if they’re small) how to tidy the bed.
I teach mine how and they don’t have the freedom to come to breakfast unless their bed is straight and their room is cleaned. Now, straight is relative, but if I can tell they’ve tried I never go behind them.
Age: I will get my 2 year old to “help” tidy his crib, my barely 4 year old to help tidy his bed, and my 5, 6, and 7 year olds tidy their beds on their own.
Note: I use this clock to help the older ones know what time they can come out of their rooms to start the day.
2. Cleanup after playtime
Each morning my kids have an independent play time and I don’t restrict how many toys they can play with anymore. When they are small and in the crib, they get a few choices, but when they move to playing in their room they can do what they want.
The rule is that they can’t come out of their room, however, until it’s picked back up. I’ve done this from the get-go and now they don’t argue or fuss, so their room pretty much stays in good order all day.
The key is that kids get in the habit of tidying up at some point during the day. And you want this point to be BEFORE not AFTER something they enjoy. This is my South African way and cuts back drastically on power battles.
If your children struggle to work hard without complaining, check out these printable chore cards you can use to help teach your kids responsibility, hard work, and contribution.
3. Get a good laundry system down
It’s my goal this year to get a good laundry system down for our family of 7.
I had a great one when we had 4 people then 5 but it unraveled at 6 and at 7… I just go in when we’re out of clothes and that’s that. However, in order to feel like the laundry is not out of control, I’m working to create a new system that is easier for us all to keep.
Basic Laundry Tips
- Your hamper system is probably the most important thing of all.
- I’ve stopped folding our “house clothes” that get wrinkled anyway, and simply sort them by hamper and have the kids put them away. I recommend watching this video which outlines that.
- Put clothes in your washer each evening and set a timer (if you have one!) for the next morning. This way, when you are beginning your morning routines you are already ahead.
- Get the kids involved. It’s a hard slog when you try to do all household chores while kids are in bed. Do some folding (and let kids fold towels, wash cloths, etc.) with the kids and things go faster.
4. Timed cleanup
I recently bought this timer to help in our day to day. Here is all the ways you can use a timer during your day, but let’s say here that it’s a great way to get in a big spurt of cleaning without feeling overwhelmed.
Set your timer for a certain period of time, turn on some music even, and clean until the timer goes off. It’s easy enough to keep the kids motivated when they know there’s an end in site.
You might even do this for 5 minutes every evening.
The more you do little by little, the less that builds up.
5. Evening sweep
I wrote a whole post on the evening sweep here. It’s a great routine to add into your evening.
This looks like, after the kids are in bed, making a sweep of the main living areas of the home and tidying everything up.
Putting things back in their baskets.
Taking things to the rooms where they go.
I might find things that go in the kids’ rooms who are sleeping so I’ll simply set it outside that child’s room until the next day. It’s still nearer where it’s supposed to be and out of the main rooms.
Do not underestimate the great feeling you’ll get when you see the main living areas of the home super tidy.
6. End Of Dinner Tidy Up
We’ve recently started (and are still tweaking) a new post-dinner routine where no one really leaves the kitchen until it’s all clean.
We are adjusting this since our 2 and 3 year olds make this a tad more exhausting than necessary (#reallife) but the goal is that mama is not back in the kitchen at 9 p.m. on her own cleaning it all.
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Started a new routine (rule): No One Leaves The Kitchen After Dinner Until It’s Clean 💥😱🤗 . There is weeping and gnashing, fights over who gets to spray, kids running in circles, and constant direction to stay on task, but there is also…. . A CLEAN KITCHEN 💜💛💚💙😍 BY 7PM . If your mental health is suffering (aka you are losing your mind) over having to clean everything up after littles go to bed I cannot recommend this enough! ✊👊🙌 . #chores #momlife #momhacks #sahmlife #homeschoolmom #sahm #bigfamily #momoffive #our_everyday_moments
Get Your Tidy Routines Printable Checklist
You are NOT lazy, disorganized, or unmotivated. The fact is, if your home feels chaotic,it’s your systems. With easy efficient systems, habits, and routines you can start to have the home (and home atmosphere) you crave without working yourself into a frenzy.
Take this quiz to see how well your home systems work then get free and easy hacks to help make your home more tidy, peaceful, and organized.
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