It’s no secret that raising children can be a messy business. And while we wouldn’t change a thing, kids have a unique ability to get into everything and create disorder and can sometimes feel like an uphill battle to maintain a tidy and organized home.
Keeping a clean house with kids can sometimes feel impossible, from the mess they make while playing to the constant spills and stains. No matter how much effort you put in or how much time you spend, your home never seems as clean as it once was. However, with some simple strategies and a bit of effort, you can create a clean and comfortable living space that works for everyone. Whether you live in an apartment in Seattle, WA, or a home in Stamford, CT, these tried and true cleaning routines, strategies to get the little ones to help out, and decluttering and organizing hacks will have your home looking clean and tidy in no time.
1. Find a home for everything
“Tasks completed daily between routine cleanings can be extremely helpful when it comes to maintaining your home,” shares Chris from Tidy Coop, a professional home cleaning service in Colorado Springs, CO and surrounding areas. “Having a dedicated place for things (ie: backpacks, shoes, toys, clothes) is a good idea to encourage family members to easily participate in keeping your home decluttered, so when it comes time to clean, you aren’t spending most of the time putting things away, rather than cleaning. Another strong tip is to have a specific area designated for homework. Not only can this help for a productive work environment, but it can also keep clutter to a minimum around the home.”
2. Pass the responsibility onto your little one(s)
“Every book, toy, and game should have a place and children should know where to put them each time,” states Pacita Pacheco of Keep It Green Maid Service in Houston, TX. “Storage and shelving should be at your child’s eye level and easily accessible for children to help with tidying up. I like to use labels with the name of the item or a picture to show and help younger children remember the correct place. An organized and tidy home is something both child and caregiver can appreciate.”
3. Make it a game for your little mess machines
“I can tell you from experience that a messy room can look extremely daunting and feel like it will take a really long time to clean up, especially for a child,” explains life and parenting coach Mel Peirce. “So when I had kids, I’d set a timer and we’d work to get the whole room cleaned up before the timer went off. The time varied by age going from 5 to 15 minutes. They knew that when the timer went off they were done — so they didn’t have to deal with the ‘this is going to take forever’ feeling, even though we almost always beat the timer. To make it more fun, you can put music on and work to pick up before the end of a song or two.”
4. Start noticing instead of telling
Mel Peirce shares, “kids tend to be more responsive and willing to help when they are solving a problem on their own instead of just being told what to do. So instead of telling them to pick up their toys, ‘notice’ that the toys aren’t in their home. If the bathroom is a mess after the finger painting project, ‘notice’ that there is paint all over the sink and cabinet. Then wait and give them time to think through it and figure out what needs to be done.”
5. Spend a few moments appreciating the clean room
Mel Peirce also recommends sitting with your child and talking about how good it feels to have everything picked up and put away. “This helps them gain the awareness of the benefits of cleaning up and associate it with a positive feeling, and if you do this consistently they will look forward to a quick snuggle with you after a clean up session.”
6. Establish a clear and simple system for cleaning
“Keeping a house clean with kids can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible,” says Eliteness Cleaning Maid Service servicing Atlanta, GA, Athens, GA, Macon, GA, and Orlando, FL. “Establishing a cleaning schedule, enlisting the help of the kids, and using organizational tools such as storage bins and labels can all make a big difference. It’s also important to prioritize and focus on the most important areas, such as the kitchen and bathrooms. Another useful tip is to set aside specific times of day for cleaning and tidying up, such as right after breakfast or before bed. Additionally, it can be helpful to keep cleaning supplies in easily accessible locations throughout the house, to make it easier to tackle messes as they happen. With a little effort and some smart strategies, parents, guardians, nannies, and other caregivers can maintain a clean and organized home that works for everyone.”
7. Establish a routine to get the kids involved
“Kids thrive on simple, repeatable routines; they like to know what to expect and are natural helpers,” says lifestyle blogger Michelle Krol, founder of A Rooted Home . “It helps to include them when designing household systems, such as choosing their chores or coming up with a daily schedule like Tuesday-Toilets, Wednesday-Wash, Thursday-Towels and so-on. It’s important to keep the chores age-appropriate and to discuss up front if there will be any rewards. I have probably tried all of the chore charts out there and found post-it notes to work best. I write down all of the chores for the week and they choose a chore, write their name on the post-it, and stick it to the bottom of the calendar hanging in our kitchen, keeping it visible for the whole family.”
“We understand how challenging it can be to keep a house clean with kids around,” says Krissy Staton, Founder of cleaning company Mom’s Mop servicing Cleveland, OH, and surrounding areas. She adds, “One of the most effective ways to maintain a clean home is to establish a regular cleaning routine. This can involve daily tasks such as wiping down kitchen counters and sweeping the floors, as well as weekly chores like vacuuming and mopping. Another strategy is to get your little ones involved in the cleaning process. You can assign age-appropriate tasks such as picking up toys or helping with the laundry. Not only will this teach them responsibility, but it will also help lighten your workload.”
8. Break up cleaning tasks and create “zones”
“Did you know that the part of the brain that helps us to organize our life and home (pre-frontal cortex) does not finish developing in most people until age 25? This means that our kids will not automatically know how to clean their room or keep their toys organized, and may need some support in this area from their parents,” explains Dr. Erin Avirett and Dr. Jordana Mortimer Child Psychologists at Mind & Child, an online parenting resource.
“To help teach kids these skills, we recommend parents set up highly structured and visual organizational systems,” adds Dr. Avirett and Dr. Mortimer. “It’s often helpful to set up labeled bins and zones that flow with the functionality of the home. For example, keep the sock bin near the shoe bin. Have the backpack zone near where your kids do their homework. Keep Legos near the table where they prefer to build. Keep a visual chart of the morning routine on the bathroom mirror. Your kids may need help setting up these systems, but, once set up, they are easy to follow.”
9. Save time by prepping the night before
“To make the most out of your cleaning day when you have kids, you need to make a plan of attack the night before by setting out the supplies you will need and decide which rooms you will tackle first,” suggests Spot Free Home Services, a cleaning service in Chandler, AZ. “This will save valuable time on the day of. Then, you can start with the areas that need the most attention and work your way down to smaller tasks in the mornings when your kids are preoccupied with their busy mornings or before they wake up. Having a cleaning day can benefit your mental and physical health, as well as your children’s too.”
Spot Free Home Services explains, “It can be a great way to relax, de-stress, and help you stay organized and tidy. However, it is vital to ensure that you do not overdo it and take the time to enjoy the process. And if you don’t have the time to clean your house, it’s always convenient to call professional cleaners to help you.”
10. Make cleaning fun
“Keeping a house clean with kids can be tough, but it’s important to try and keep things tidy so everyone can be happy and healthy,” shares Fresh Look Home Cleaning in Jacksonville, FL. “One idea is to make cleaning fun. You can turn it into a game or a race, like seeing who can put away their toys the fastest. If you make it exciting, you’ll be surprised at how much everyone will want to help out.”
“It’s also good to make a plan for when you’re going to clean, like doing a big clean every Saturday morning,” adds Fresh Look Home Cleaning. “This way, everyone knows what to expect and it won’t be such a big job. Finally, try to keep things organized. You can use baskets or bins to help keep everything in its place. When things have a home, it’s easier to find them and put them away.”
11. Find a designated space to call their own
“Keeping the house clean with Kids is a never-ending job,” states Michael Finlay Owner and Founder of This is Fatherhood, LLC. “One thing my wife and I do that helps both our sanity as well as theirs is to try to provide rooms and/or space that are specifically theirs and can be used as they wish. We let them play and have fun in common areas, and ask them to clean up when they are done. But, if they have specific toys and/or games that they are playing with and want to be able to leave them out, they need to go to their dedicated spaces.”
12. Use this as a learning opportunity
“Seeing things get sucked up from a carpet to a vacuum can be very amusing to a child,” states SaniClean Dry Carpet Cleaning in Seattle, WA. “You can utilize that amusement by teaching them how to properly vacuum. Most parenting advisers suggest the age of 10 for children to learn the life skill of vacuuming. You can purchase a cheaper, small, and lightweight canister vacuum to help them develop the skill, be amused by the things that get sucked up, and help you keep that carpet clean.”
13. Create a schedule to prevent procrastination
Procrastination can cause tasks to pile up and become overwhelming, so it’s important to stay on top of things and make sure you’re working on the most important tasks each day.
“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” recommends Eduardo Cabrera III, founder & owner of cleaning company Maids To Serve, servicing Washington, DC and surrounding areas. “Create schedules that will help you stay organized and Choose baby/kid safe cleaning products that work best for you and place them strategically.”
14. Focus on one area at a time
Cleaning can often feel like an overwhelming task, but there’s a simple strategy you can use to keep your home clean and tidy on a daily basis. “Clean until the selected area is clean,” suggests lifestyle and parenting blogger Tahnee Flack. “Doing this daily will stop build up, mess and dirt and make cleaning faster.”
For example, instead of trying to clean your entire living room at once, you can focus on cleaning one corner or one piece of furniture, such as the coffee table. By taking a targeted approach like this, you can make sure that each area is thoroughly cleaned and that nothing gets missed.
15. Rotate toys regularly
“The more stuff you have, the harder it is to clean,” says Michael Gordon, Vice President of Germicidal Maids House Cleaning, servicing San Clemente, CA and surrounding cities. “That’s why I recommend rotating toys. Have different sets of toys that you can switch out seasonally or whenever your child loses interest in the current set. By doing this, you will save money and keep your house far less cluttered.”
Not only does this keep your child engaged and minimize the mess, but it’s also a great opportunity to involve your children in keeping things tidy. You can teach them important organizational skills and show them how they can contribute to the family in meaningful ways. Encourage them to help you switch out the toys, and make it a fun activity that you can do together.
16. 3 secrets to earn more help around the house
Dollnita M. Winston, Parent Coach at Family Life Enhancement shares three effective ways to get your kids involved in the day-to-day chores:
Use bright colorful bins/containers for kids’ stuff and create a special place for them to be kept.
Make cleanup time a fun time, incorporate their favorite song to work by.
Put up a “visual aid” with their name on it and a surprise coupon for their favorite treat once their task is complete.
17. Invest in high-quality cleaning supplies
“Cleaning does not have to be a hard job, but it is much easier if you have the advantage of good quality cleaning supplies,” shares Gary Shif of New York Home Cleaning Service. “Investing in the right supplies will help get that job done in no time. Not only will you save energy by having premium-grade items at your disposal, but you’ll also save precious hours that can be used for something more enjoyable. Upgrade your cleaning arsenal with the right supplies, get on with being productive, and perhaps even having some fun.”
18. Teach your kids the importance of cleanliness
“Keeping a clean house with kids can be challenging for parents, but it’s not impossible,” says blogger Chandra at Blogemania. “Develop cleaning habits and teach your kids the importance of cleanliness. Encourage them to make their beds every morning, wipe down surfaces after meals, and put toys away when they’re finished playing. Third, set cleaning goals and make them achievable. For example, try to clean for 30 minutes each day or designate individual rooms for each family member to keep tidy. Fourth, foster teamwork by involving every family member in the cleaning process. Everyone can help in some way, no matter how small the task may be. Fifth, divide cleaning responsibilities among family members based on their abilities. Older children may be able to handle more difficult tasks, while younger children can help with simpler ones.”
19. Make it a priority to make the bed
“Teach your kids to make their beds first thing in the morning and you can never underestimate the impact it has,” states Cleaner Vibe. “Clutter can often overwhelm the minds of kids and distract them. Essentially, physical clutter can result in mental clutter. Clutter-free surroundings can also serve as a great motivating factor. For kids, when their room looks great, they feel a great sense of accomplishment and are more likely to go on and do great things.”
20. Make organization and responsibility fun
“Teach your kids to organize their toys properly by grouping similar items together, such as books with books, dolls with dolls, and cars with cars,” suggests Thomas M. Phillips of Specialized Janitorial Services in Chicago, IL. “After they finish playing with a toy, make it a habit for your kids to put the toy away in its designated spot. You can turn the task into a game between siblings to see who can clean up the fastest. You can also give your kids simple household chores and a schedule to follow. All of these tasks should be presented to children in a fun and engaging way, making it feel less like a chore and more like a game. This will help them develop good habits that will become second nature as they grow older.”
21. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Keeping a clean and organized home can be a daunting task. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, it can feel like there’s always something left to clean or organize. In these situations, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Hiring a professional cleaning service can be a great way to take some of the stress off of you and your family. Not only can a cleaning service help you keep your home clean and organized, but they can also free up your time and energy to focus on other important tasks or simply relax and spend time with your family. While it can be hard to let go of control and let someone else take care of your home, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to ask for help and that doing so can ultimately lead to a happier and healthier home environment.
22. Start with pretending to clean
“Remove hard expectations of them actually cleaning,” states Tidy Vibe, offering professional house cleaning services throughout Tacoma, WA and nearby communities. “Let your little ones pretend to wipe up counters, sweep the floor, as pretend play can lead to real cleaning skills and habits later on. It’s not a sprint but a marathon. Avoid linking cleaning tasks to monetary or other rewards, but enforce it as a normal daily routine we all contribute toward as members of the family. Aim for cleaning/organizing just enough so the space is both functional and comfortable for your family’s needs, instead of aiming for perfection. It’s a losing battle, trust us.”
Keeping a clean house with kids is definitely a challenge, but it’s not impossible. By establishing a routine, decluttering regularly, assigning chores, creating a designated messy area, emphasizing good habits, and getting your kids involved, you’ll be able to maintain a clean and organized home that works for everyone.