Your Top Tips for Keeping a Home Tidy with Kids

Well, we are just on a kid-content kick these weeks, and so I have to thank you for bearing with me. We have spent an immense amount of time in our homes over the past year, and between house projects and rearranging pillows, it’s easy to realize JUST how much it takes to keep a home tidy with little ones. You might scroll Instagram and think, “But wait…does she never have a dirty sink? Where is the clutter? How does she do it?” Heavens, I think it, too! And I’m sure y’all think that of me!

And as I search generations of mothers before me and with me for answers, I come across two loud camps. You have one end of the spectrum saying, “Live with the mess, honey. They are only little once.” And the other end of the spectrum declares, “Teach them young! You do them no favors giving them no boundaries. A clean home is a usable home.” And as I nod in agreement with each camp, I often wonder, “But where is the middle ground? I fall into the middle…”

I bake all the time with Maxi. Sprinkles get on the floor. There is spit up on the slipcover I need to wash tomorrow. We get paint on the table. We believe our children’s most important job is to play. And YET, if our home isn’t clean, I can’t work. We can’t function. Our family does not function. I have no margin for time to pick up during naps as I have to squeeze in a full workday whenever their little eyes are shut and they are snoozing. Quite frankly, my job probably makes more of a mess than my children do. {Have you seen a closet after a try-on haul?!} And in the midst of balancing both mindsets, I have come up with core rules. Rules that allow us to dip our toes in both ponds, all while trying to steward our home and resources well.

I wanted to share these rules with you all in case you wonder where the gray area is on Instagram as well. But before I shared, I had to ask the best resource I know: you all. I figured many of y’all had to have incredible tips I’d never dreamed of. With 600+ mamas responding, I compiled the top 10 tips that intertwined with my own. Take notes mamas, here are the top 10 tips for keeping your home tidy with little tots.

  1. 20-Minute Tidy: Something about the second kid has made me exhausted. Paul gets home and I could fall asleep at 6 p.m. My husband probably wishes he had $1 every single time my paranoid mind says, “Do you think I am sick? I’m so tired.” The girl that used to organize her closet at midnight or clean the bathroom drawers until 11 pm? I do NOT know her. I do not claim her. This girl is fast asleep by then. I’m still pumping at midnight and 4 am, so I desperately need my sleep. I say all of this because if you are too tired to clean at night I nod my head in agreement. What’s the secret to not waking up with a mess? Set the timer with your husband for 20 minutes and clean. Turn on some music, drink a glass of wine, and do it before you put your pajamas on. The first thing we do when we get the kids down is set the timer, pick up, and then we can fully enjoy our time together in the evenings. It goes by quickly and I notice if I don’t do the 20-minute tidy, I’m just sitting on the sofa scrolling on social media. I’d rather clean. 😉
  2. Baby Wipe Station: Keep baby wipes in different stations throughout your home that way you can easily clean up sticky fingers, muddy boots, and messy faces. I keep baby wipes where we walk in the house {through the laundry room}, by Harry’s high chair, and on the back patio. It may seem like a silly extra step, but I find it makes much less of a mess if I can wipe down tiny messes here and there.
  3. One Room Ready: This tip came from SO many mamas- you leave one room ready at all times! Many of you said you leave one bedroom and one “living space” ready at all times. For us, that is our master bedroom and our dining room. If you can leave one space ready for guests at a moment’s notice, you feel much less stressed. By leaving one space clean and clutter-free, I think it removes that overwhelm you might feel when balls, legos, and paint are strewn about the house.
  4. Beds Before Breakfast: Make the beds before you eat your breakfast! That may not be completely realistic if you wake up a lot earlier than your kids, but the concept applies of making their bed right when they make up before they eat their breakfast. The act of doing it helps little ones learn it as a reflex to getting out of bed. I will notice Maxi try to make her bed if I don’t do this, and I love that she is learning.
  5. Start Routines Young: One of my favorite quotes is, “If our children learn about consequences the first time from the Lord, we didn’t do our job.” Faith-based or not, I think that principle applies while raising human beings. It’s my job to teach my children {in age-appropriate steps, of course} that if they don’t clean their home, no one else will do it for them. It’s easier to learn at 12 than it is at 22. Babies see us clean. Toddlers help us pick up. Preschoolers can learn to sort. Elementary kids can do chores. Etc. Start routines to help them enjoy the process! Cleaning is a gift, we are blessed to have homes to clean! We can teach our children to do this with joy and gratitude by making fun routines while they are young. With Maxi, we belt out Frozen while we clean the living room. We jam to Spotify while we put dishes away. One of you shared a fantastic tip! You use a Polaroid camera, and tape photos to clear bins so your toddler can learn how to sort and what goes in each basket. So much more useful than the labels I use! You make it a fun game for them. You can also cycle toys {we do this!} by using certain baskets on the 1st and 3rd week of the month and cycle them in a closet, so your little ones aren’t overwhelmed with toys and cleaning. You make it a fun game to pick which toys and the baskets each week. It helps teach them that less is more.
  6. Less is More: From toys to Amazon orders, the older I get the LESS I want in the home. After Christmas and birthdays, I’m spending hours finding a home for items. I know this time of year you probably all relate, and it makes us recognize, we don’t need MOST of this stuff! Less stuff = less to clean. And while this is Chronicles of FRIVOLITY and I always have an itch for one more bracelet on my wrist, I try to remove a few things from my cart while ordering. If I’m ordering extra hangers for the kids, maybe I need 2 sets instead of 3. Remove one set from the cart and go through their closet an extra time to see what they have outgrown. The rooms I feel most peaceful in have the least amount of items, so I implement this small act whenever I can.
  7. Ask, “Can it go in a basket?” Before Buying: This was another tip from a brilliant mama on Instagram! She said she only buys things for her kids’ gifts if she KNOWS it comes with storage or she has storage for it. She said, “I have 3 kids, and refuse to spend the day after a birthday party purging and organizing. I only buy what we have storage for.” I should probably implement this with my Ulta purchases as well! ha.
  8. Never Sleep with a Dirty Sink: Some nights the 20-minute tidy may not happen. You’re catching up with work, you don’t feel great, you do date night. But the #1 thing y’all all agreed on with these tips? Never go to sleep with a dirty sink! Breakfast will come before you know it and you want clean dishes.
  9. Moving Rooms? Move the Mess: Kids or not, I think one of the easiest ways to keep a tidy home is to always move one item from the next. Walking into the kitchen? Bring your empty coffee mug. Never leave one door without taking an item that goes elsewhere with you.
  10. Family Function Roles: Have family power hour on the weekends! One of you said you do this and I am going to implement it! You said that on Saturday mornings for one hour every one has a role. Your preschooler may watch the baby, while mom and dad and big sister clean. Maybe your kids sort toys, while you fold laundry. Whatever it is, everyone has 1 role, you set the timer for an hour and you do it! Then when family power hour is over you go enjoy the weekend and you aren’t left with a huge mess on Sunday afternoon.

Real life is the best life. It’s made with cookie crumbs, and dirty coffee mugs, and puzzle pieces everywhere. But real life always demands that we teach our children to be good stewards of what we are entrusted with. Rock your baby and put off the laundry, *BUT* at some point the laundry can’t wait. At some point, your baby ends up in a 4t Auburn hoodie to go to the park because he has no clean sweaters. Oh, wait…I did that. Am I the only one that has done that?! There is a lot to learn in the gray area as we juggle work, little ones, and routines. I hope these rules/tips help you enjoy all that home life has to offer!

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4 Comments

  1. Ahh, these photos are so adorable! Great tips too! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

    Published 10 Feb 21Reply
  2. Ana Finck wrote:

    So many great ideas!

    Published 10 Feb 21Reply
  3. Maria wrote:

    Such helpful tips! I have a 1 1/2 year old and I try to give him my undivided attention while balancing the rest of the house. It’s not easy and I admire all mama’s! Thanks Katey! Love your blog and your IG page 🙂

    Published 10 Feb 21Reply
  4. Katey!! This post is EVERYTHING!!! Thank you so much. As a new mama, I need all of these tips and feel SO excited to implement them in my daily life. These tips are so helpful and easy enough I feel confident that I can actually put them into action.

    Thank you for sharing!!

    Love from VA!

    Published 12 Feb 21Reply