There’s mud on the living room carpet, crumbs littering the kitchen counters, and the faint sound of shouting in a nearby room. No your house has not been broken into, the kids are just out of school for the summer causing lots of wear and tear on your home. Instead of pulling your hair out in frustration, here are some tips to keep your house clean no matter how messy your young ones might be.
Mats Save Floors
Cleaning carpet is a big task that only needs to be done a few times each year, an easy way to keep your floors looking clean all of the time is to use floor mats. All mats will catch dirt, but a thick nylon mat will especially collect debris. Place a mat at each door leading outside to help catch dirt before it has a chance to stain your floors. Make it an official house rule that after playing outdoors your kids use these mats to take off their shoes, and wipe off their feet before coming all the way indoors.
Let Some Responsibility Go
“If you want something done right, do it yourself.” A popular quote, but one you must throw out the window if you want a truly clean house without all of the headaches. Sure, you have a specific way you like things done but kids catch on quick and they will eventually master cleaning techniques you educate them about. Giving kids chores grants them a sense of accomplishment while helping you get more things done around the house. Let children know this job is just for them so that they feel responsible and important handling it. Give children plenty of praise for their hard work so that they continue to take pride in what they do. Lastly, be careful to assign chores that are age appropriate.
So what types of chores are considered age appropriate?
Children aged 3-8: 3 might seem young, but it’s not too young to start teaching your children responsible cleaning habits. For starters, kids make a big mess with their toys and so after they are done with those Tonka trunks and Barbie dolls ask that they clean them up. Supply rubber bins or benches with storage units to make clean up simple and clutter less of a problem around your house. Decorating storage areas with stickers and fun labels will make organizing seem exciting, creating lifelong good habits you will be thankful about for many years to come.
Children aged 8-12: At this age kids are finally old enough for some bigger responsibilities besides just picking up their toys or bringing their dishes to the sink. At this age they can start taking on other areas they mess up, for instance if they are the last family member to use the shower show them how to use spray-on bath cleaner to remove any dirt or streaks from the shower. After a warm shower the steam loosens debris, which makes cleaning easier. Brushing teeth is another daily activity that can cause messes, such as toothpaste stuck to the sink or smudges on the counters, show your child how to wipe up the sink quickly after every use for a consistently clean space. Leave no room for excuses; keep a sponge under the sink beside some cleaner for easy access.
Clean Up the Clutter
At the end of the school year kids come home with piles of schoolwork, you don’t want to simply throw all of this hard work out—not only can that be hurtful to sensitive children but it takes away your opportunity to reminisce over these things in the future. Saving art projects and other work your child proudly completes can make for an awesome gift in the future, something fun to look back on when they grow up. Save work without the clutter by investing in plastic bins that can be stored in the closet, under their bed, or even out in the garage. Teach your children to place all of their favorite work in here so that it doesn’t end up all over your house, and then mistakenly thrown away.
Cleaning Up After Artsy Children
Kids are supposed to color on paper but at some point or other, parents might discover a crayon mural drawn on their walls. For easy clean up of these messes you can use concentrated dishwashing soap to remove the crayon. When artwork is completed on paper, set a designated time it will hang out on display before relocating it to the designated box for your child’s favorite artwork.
Quality Cleaning Time
Combine family time with cleaning, simply set a time of the week for your family to gather together around the table to chat and clean. Give each family member a chore, such as polishing the silverware or folding laundry, and as everyone works on his or her own task they can share about their week. This means quality time for your family while also getting important cleaning tasks taken care of.
Teach Shortcuts & Safety
Show your kids fun ways to clean up messes, for instance a tangle of cobwebs can be easily detonated with the force of a blow dryer. Show older children how to use electrics to help get cleaning done more swiftly, taking this time to also teach them the importance of electrical safety.
Introduce Kids To The Dustbuster
When you enter the kitchen you don’t want to know exactly what your kids have eaten just by looking at the mess left behind. Let your kids know that they must return the kitchen back to its original clean order after every snack; this includes picking up their crumbs. Dustbusters are small portable vacuums that are easy to use, lightweight for little hands, and can help kids quickly pick up their crumbs, leaving behind a mess-free kitchen after every snack.
Make No Room For Excuses
Give each child their own set of cleaning supplies and organizing tools so that there are never any excuses for a messy room or bathroom. Office supply stores have endless options for desk organizers, let your kid pick out which one appeals to them to ensure they actually use it. Kids that are not organized lose a lot of stuff, which can impact their grades in school—help them stay organized with trays labeled Homework, or Tests, to keep them on track. Kids in the third grade and older should be responsible enough to keep track of their schoolwork on their own.
Be firm and don’t let them have playtime if they do not utilize their cleaning supplies and organizational tools.
Rewarding Chore Charts
Make a homemade chore chart or buy a premade chart, either way these charts are proven effective for teaching children the importance of completing their chores. Write the child’s name with the chores they are expected to do, and then use stickers to mark off their good work. If they earn enough sticker stars perhaps they can also earn a certain pre-arranged reward, furthering their motivation to keep up with their chores.
Save Big Chores For Family Cleaning Day
Pick one day a week for each family member to take on a different large cleaning task, such as cleaning windows or mopping the floors. Delegate tasks and then work on them at the same time, when the whole family is doing chores together kids tend to complain less. Use this time as a teaching opportunity, for instance show your children how to clean windows without leaving behind streaks using a cotton cleaning cloth and cleaner—either a commercial cleaner or a 100% safe and natural homemade solution of vinegar and water. For kids that are too young to be given their own specific chores, allow them to help their older siblings or parents out with a multi-person task such as flipping mattresses or cleaning the blinds.