How to Clean House with Children
Cleaning house with children underfoot—especially young children who are very interested in whatever mommy is doing—can be frustrating for parents. Here are a few tips for cleaning your house while keeping your toddlers or preschoolers happy.
Multi-task in the Bathroom
I often clean my bathroom while my children are having a bath. This lets me keep an eye on them while they are playing in the tub, and keeps them happy and busy while I am cleaning the rest of the bathroom.
Put everything you will need (cleaning supplies for you, bathtub toys for them) in the bathroom before you get started.
You can either wash the floor before the children get out of the tub (use a floor mat to prevent slipping or let them play in the tub until the floor is dry) or get them out of the tub and then wash the floor. Clean the tub surround while the children play; once they are out of the tub, give the tub a quick wash.
Sweeping, Mopping and Vacuuming with Children
Toddlers and preschoolers like doing whatever mommy is doing, so encourage this while you are sweeping, mopping or vacuuming the floor. Toy brooms and vacuums are available for fairly cheap prices. Or let your child use the hand broom and dust-pan or the handheld vacuum. Encourage them to “clean” an area of the floor that you’ve already swept or to “vacuum” the couch while you vacuum the floor.
Washing Dishes with Toddlers
If you have two sinks, let your child stand on a chair beside you to “wash” some dishes in one sink with a few inches of warm water. Your child could either wash their toy dishes or unbreakable kitchen dishes, such as plastic bowls or wooden spoons. A slightly older child could rinse the dishes after you have washed them and then stack them in the dish drainer.
Chasing Dust Bunnies
Dusting is probably the easiest chore to get your children involved with. Give each child a dusting mitt or an old sock to dust the house by hand. Show your child how to run their mitt or sock over the shelves, furniture, etc. You can dust the higher areas while they dust lower areas. Challenge your child to see who can end up with the dirtiest sock and get excited about clean surfaces and dusty mitts.
Assign Chores for Children
Give your children age-appropriate chores. Even young children can do simple tasks such as dusting (above) or wiping baseboards. Put on some music to make the task more interesting or work nearby so you can encourage your children and talk about their tasks. Tone of voice helps while assigning tasks; saying, “Let’s clean house!” is more likely to motivate young children than saying “You have to do this!”
I was a neat freak before I had kids. I liked everything organized perfectly—no extra clutter on my desk, nothing unnecessary on the floor. Since having kids, I’ve had to relax my “neat freak” tendencies and accept that there will be toys on the floors and finger prints on my windows.
If you have children, accept the fact that your house will reflect that. Find a level of clean that you can maintain without losing your sanity. Involving your children in your cleaning, or finding ways to clean quickly while they are otherwise occupied, will keep your house looking its best. Sometimes, though, you need to ignore the finger prints on the wall or the dust on the bookshelf.
There’s a saying that “cleaning house while children are growing is like shoveling snow while it’s still snowing.” Sometimes doing a bit of snow shoveling at a time keeps it from being a huge job later, just as doing a bit of cleaning now keeps it from being a big job later. But remember that with children around, your house will never be absolutely perfectly clean. Let it go—someday the snow will stop falling and the children will be grown up.
Until then, hopefully these tips help.
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