Honestly. David is 20 months old. This means I have had almost two years to figure out how to keep my house clean with this little munchkin, and somehow I’ve only just barely started to master it. The bummer is that just when I feel like I’ve figured this whole thing out life is going to throw another twist my way with a new baby in just a few weeks. Hopefully I’ve got this thing down enough, that we don’t revert back to cluttered messy houses!
Anyway, without further ado, here are my best tips for keeping a clean house with a toddler:
- Don’t stress the little messes. Toddlers are messy. Period. Let your toddler get messy. Let the house get messy. I speed clean twice a day. Once before my husband comes home & once after David goes to bed. If I pulled out a wet wipe/paper towel every time David made a mess it’d take up my whole day & drive me crazy. Obviously if there’s some crazy spill, address it immediately, but little messes can wait.
- Teach your toddler to clean up after themselves. If David has trash I tell him to throw it away & he does. He loves it. He’s at that helping stage. He even insists on throwing his dirty diaper away for me. If he spills his water, I hand him a paper towel to wipe it up himself & he actually thanks me for doing it! He wipes up his mess & then throws it away. Less work for me! (He is still 1, so sometimes he doesn’t do the best wipe-up job, but he is learning & getting better every day & spilling less & less).
- Have a toy bin. I have a bin for David’s toys. I just throw them all in there. I don’t organize it because my toddler doesn’t care if his toys are organized. He’s just going to dump them all over the ground when he wakes up the next day anyway.
- Establish cleaning priorities. I take care of any trash first (which is usually minimal) then I do the dishes & take care of any clutter before my husband comes home. Dirty dishes & cluttered kitchen counter tops make the whole house seem dirty. Usually while I do the dishes, David gets into everything else. But that’s life. I don’t even think about it. As long as he’s doing his thing and letting me get those dishes done it’s fine. Then I just toss all the toys he took out in his toy bin & call it good.
- Give your husband a job. Why should I be the only one who cleans? Scott vacuums our house everyday when he gets off work. It’s his job. He knows it & it’s one less thing for me to do. It’s become a routine. David actually expects it & goes to get the vacuum for dad right after he comes home. Make sure his job is clearly defined; vaguely asking for “help” never gets me much.
- When you do laundry, fold it immediately. Laundry seems to be never ending in our house. I don’t mind throwing clothes in the wash, but for some reason putting them away is just the worst for me. I just have to remind myself to muscle through it & get it done otherwise it could literally sit in the dryer for up to a week before I do anything with it.
A lot of people suggest cleaning as you go. And I agree with this to a point. If I’m making a meal, I will put away the ingredients as I use them. If my son & I are working on a specific activity I will quickly put the supplies away when we are finished. But I can’t do it with everything. It just doesn’t work for us. Most likely, if I put something away when David is done with it, he will immediately want it again. It’s frustrating. So like I mentioned in the first bullet point, I just leave it all out & speed clean right before my husband comes home from work & then again before bedtime. It takes seconds to throw toys in a bin & put them away.
If you are really pressed for time, you can also create a mail bin or a clutter basket to throw miscellaneous items in when you don’t have time to put them in their proper spots. Just make sure you get to it by the end of the night otherwise it will just pile up =)
Good luck & happy cleaning!