If you are a mom, I know you have wondered if it is even possible to keep your house clean when you have kids.
This is one instance in which the popular saying, “you can have it all, just not at the same time,” comes into play.
Your house will not be clean all of the time, but the short answer is yes. You can keep your house clean when you have kids.
I have discovered some secrets over the years that will help you, and this is coming from someone who HATES to clean.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a clean house. I just don’t actually like to clean it, and I can let a mess go on far longer than my husband can.
Related post: Should a Husband Help with Housework?
A messy house messes with you though. Literally. You don’t even know it’s happening, but it’s true.
Studies have linked a cluttered home to worsening mood and depression. I have experienced this, and you probably have too.
Moms have enough to worry about (mostly things we cannot control) without adding extra anxiety over something we can absolutely control.
How to keep your house clean when you have kids
Kids make messes. I know this. But there are ways to keep your house clean when you have kids without adding more work for yourself.
Below I’m going to share some practical tips that will help you tidy up and make you the queen of your home once again.
Some of these tips are action steps, while others are strategies that will set the tone of your home giving your kids a healthy dose of structure.
Let’s get started!
1 // Set realistic expectations
First, you need to develop a realistic set of expectations for the cleanliness of your home. Often this means you need to lower your expectations for a job well done.
Done is better than perfect. Your house will not be spotless all of the time, and that is okay.
This doesn’t mean that you have to give up all of your expectations, but they do need to be realistic. Otherwise, you are setting yourself up for disappointment before you begin.
Examples of reasonable expectations may include not leaving the house messy before bed or everyone pitching in and doing their part.
Whatever the expectations are, make them known. You have to communicate with your kids what your expectations are for keeping the house clean if you want to get results.
You will likely have to repeat yourself more than once. It is a learning process for them and for you. As time goes on, they will get it and you will need to instruct far less often.
2 // Invest in toy storage
Toys seem to be the biggest hurdle to keeping your house clean when you have kids. Do whatever it takes to hide them.
Baskets and bins are your best friends if you have young kids with a lot of toys. Don’t even worry about organizing them.
The process will drive you crazy, and your system will never last. Kids are made to destroy your organizational systems.
They like to make messes. That is how they learn. It’s time to get over that and make it as easy as possible to clean up when the time comes.
Put baskets in the closets or add a storage unit with fabric bins in the cubbies to the play area. Once the toys are put away it’s out of sight, out of mind.
If you spend money on one thing to help you keep your house clean, start with toy storage.
3 // Clean up after play time
Make it a habit to clean up after playtime, whether that happens one time a day or multiple times a day. Clean up every single time.
When your babies are young, you will do most of the cleanup. As they get older, you can enlist their help. Your kids can start helping you clean up a lot sooner than you might think.
Start this habit young, so they get used to it and eventually it becomes second nature to them.
4 // Declutter ruthlessly… and often
It is so easy to accumulate a massive amount of toys without realizing. Toys have a way of multiplying and without the proper systems in place, they quickly begin to take over your space.
All of a sudden you feel like you are drowning in a situation that is beyond your control. It seems overwhelming to try and tackle the toy situation, so you give up altogether.
If I could give you one piece of advice on how to keep your house clean when you have kids, it would be to declutter ruthlessly and regularly.
The bottom line is… when you have less, there is less to clean up.
This is beneficial for kids as well. Kids feel overwhelmed when they have too many options.
Have you ever wondered why your kid has so many toys, yet never wants to play with them?
Studies show that an abundance of toys reduces the quality of playtime and focus in regard to toddlers especially.
Giving toys up is difficult for children, but each time we do this in our home our kids spend hours playing in their room once we’re finished.
I recommend going through the toys in your home once every few months, or at the very least near big holidays such as Christmas and birthdays.
5 // Develop regular cleaning habits
Regular cleaning habits will help you keep your house clean more often than not. A habit is something you do over and over again without thinking much about it.
The following habits would be beneficial to adopt on the daily if you are trying to keep your house clean:
- Wipe down countertops
- Complete one load of laundry
- Run the dishwasher
- Tidy up clutter
- Sweep the floors
Create a weekly cleaning schedule for repetitive cleaning tasks to help you keep your house clean on a regular basis.
6 // Establish rules that help keep your home tidy
In addition to setting clear and realistic expectations, you must establish rules that help you keep a tidy home.
Make your kids aware of the rules early and often. Consistency is key to creating longlasting habits or changing existing ones.
They will need a constant reminder in the beginning, but soon you will find that they do the right thing all on their own.
Some rules we use in our home include:
- Make your bed each morning
- Take your dirty dishes to the sink
- Put your dirty laundry in the hamper
- Clean up after yourself when you make a mess
Our kids know the rules and they know what is expected of them. At this point, they rarely need prompting.
7 // Teach your kids to help with household chores
Stop trying to do everything on your own. Prepare your kids for adulthood by teaching them to help out around the house.
When our kids leave our home, they will know how to cook, clean, and do their own laundry. This will serve them well when they are living on their own.
If you start this when they are young, they will be eager to help. Make it fun and teach them the value of each task.
8 // Give the kids their own responsibilities
My kids are responsible for making their beds, cleaning their rooms, putting their laundry away, and cleaning up after themselves in the common areas of our home.
My natural inclination is to to it all myself, which I quickly found is impossible with three kids.
Not only does giving them their own responsibilities build character in them as people, but it is also necessary for my own sanity.
I have learned over the years to ask for help from my children in keeping our house clean. It has been a tremendous benefit for me and for them.
Kids can start helping out around the house much earlier than you might think. Click here for a list of age-appropriate chores.
9 // Allow the kids to manage their own space
Once you give your kids their own responsibilities, allow them the freedom to manage their own space.
Resist the temptation to control how they do things like make the bed and organize their toys.
Set clear expectations for what a clean room means, so they have a guideline to follow. After they finish, you can check to make sure the expectation is met.
For example, I had to teach my kids that shoving things under the bed is not an acceptable way to clean the room.
This is a learning process. Allowing them the opportunity to do it on their own and be corrected is how they learn.
On the other hand, as long as their toys are placed in a bin and out of plain site I count it as a job well done.
I do not dictate how the toys are organized because I am not the one playing with them. This was something I had to overcome and we are all much happier now that I have.
10 // Offer rewards for a job well done
Congratulate your kids when they finish cleaning and let them know how much you appreciate your help.
Sometimes it’s as simple as a hug and a heartfelt thank you. Other times you might reward them with ice cream or popcorn and a movie.
Do this for yourself too. It’s much easier to kick back and relax in a home that’s clean and tidy.
Now, it’s your turn
A clean house is not as impossible as it seems when you have kids. Start teaching them to help out when they are young to make it easier as they grow.
You may have some bad habits to break if your kids are older and have not yet been required to pitch in. As with anything, it takes time for new habits to form.
Remember the following when asking yourself how to keep your house clean when you have kids:
- Set realistic expectations
- Invest in toy storage
- Clean up after play time
- Declutter ruthlessly… and often
- Develop regular cleaning habits
- Establish rules that help keep your home tidy
- Teach your kids to help with household chores
- Give the kids their own responsibilities
- Allow the kids to manage their own space
- Offer rewards for a job well done
Stop placing the weight of the world on your shoulders and telling yourself you have to do it all, so your kids can enjoy their childhood. Your kids want a happy mom who is not stressed out all the time.
Teaching them to help out gives them valuable skills they will need as an adult and takes some of the pressure off of you – it’s a win-win!