As all parents with small children know, they can make an enormous mess for someone so little. If you happen to have twins like I do, or multiple littles, you have personally observed the disasters they are capable of causing. If you don’t constantly pick up after them all day long, by the end of the day your house can end up looking like a tornado hit. I did this one day just for fun, and mostly because I was on strike (not that it made any difference to my twinsies) and the results were pretty crazy.
I thought to myself that the solution was clearly to get rid of more toys. Less toys would be less things to strew all over the house right? Wrong! After a major toy extermination, they simply attacked my cupboards and bedroom closet next.
So then I acknowledged that the answer was simply to have less stuff in my house in general. Thus began my decluttering campaign. The stuff I did keep, I organized, so that things like the family sized box of Q-Tips is now up on the top shelf of the linen closet (have you ever picked up 397,645,000 Q-tips off the bathroom floor?I have..because I was too cheap to just sweep them up and throw them out!).
The cupboards I don’t want the girls to get into, I put baby locks on, and we also added some to a few bathroom drawers. I then made boundaries about not opening dresser drawers in our master bedroom, or the pantry or linen closet doors. If they do trespass into those off limit areas..at least it’s less stuff now to pick up after.
But seriously, the secret is less stuff, and to have a place for everything, so that if someone is coming over and you only have 10 minutes to tidy up, you can run through the house and throw all the toys in their toy boxes/shelves, and quickly put everything back where it goes. Note that I said TIDY, not CLEAN. There is a difference. My house has not been completely clean since my twins were born, or maybe even before that..
If you have babies, you are too tired to clean, and if you have toddlers, you are basically fighting a loosing battle. I have parts of my house clean at any given time..but never the whole things. If you have attained to this level of motherhood, you are either lying or you are a supermom from another planet. Is it EVER possible to have your ENTIRE house perfectly tidy AND perfectly cleaned when you have more than one small person living in it? I don’t think so..unless you have a nanny and a house cleaner. But if it’s just you or even you and your spouse..Nope, don’t believe you.
So to recap how to have that company ready tidy home in less than 20 minutes when you have toddlers or small children:
Have less stuff in general. You don’t need it anyway. Or so says KonMari.
Minimalism is all the rage…and there are some very helpful benefits of that lifestyle. It has definitely been a life saver for me, even though I am someone who is very nostalgic and I tend to keep everything. However, after having the girls, I realized that there was a lot to be said for having less stuff, and I truly did a decluttering campaign which probably saved my sanity more than I’ll know. I kept everything I wanted to keep and got rid of the rest. I had to ask myself, “how much stuff did I want to have to tidy up each day”, and the answer was, “as little as possible please!”.
Organize the stuff you do have so that everything has a place in each room and is easy to put away.
In our living room we have one toy basket that has the doll toys for the doll houses that are also in the living room. These are the only toys in there, so to tidy up I just have to quickly throw all the doll house items back in the basket (a little help from the kids is always nice). Each room has a basket or shelf for certain toys and usually those toys stay in that room, or if they are moved around, it’s not too hard to quickly put them back where they go at the end of the day.
Put dangerous items like cotton balls, Q-tips and Cheerios up on top shelves.
Even toys like puzzles with a million pieces can be in this category. Anything with A LOT of parts, like Lego, can have it’s home up high out of reach. When your kiddos want to play with them, they can ask to get them down. When they are done, put them back up there!
Put away one toy/activity before starting another one.
This is something that I am working on, and it does get easier as children get older. Get them to put away something before starting another game/activity/project. Playing with play-dough? Put it away before running off and getting out all the play kitchen toys. Unless of course the kitchen toys are needed for making play-dough cookies..but you get the idea. I like my kids to be creative in combining different kinds of toys and using their little imaginations as much as possible, but they can learn to put away the puzzle before starting the Lego. This is still a work in progress for us as it requires some parenting..which means some effort is required.
Have some boundaries of areas/things that are not for playing with. Ever.
You are the parent and you are in charge, so it’s okay for your toddler to know that there are just some places they don’t need to go, and some things that are just off limits and that’s okay. This teaches them the valuable life lesson of respecting other people’s property. My children don’t need to go into certain drawers of our room or run around with our underwear on their heads (this happened a few times when they were first learning to walk around and get into things).
So there you have it. Do you have any tips or tricks to keeping your house organized and tidy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!