How to tidy with a toddler (or baby!)
“Cleaning with a little person in the house is like raking leaves in a hurricane.”
For tiny people, babies sure do make a lot of mess when they come into your home. From toys to nappies to highchairs, swing chairs and bouncy chairs, your home is suddenly filled with items that take up a lot of space. Time is at a premium because suddenly you’re working off your baby’s schedule and even if you have a routine, things often don’t go to plan. As they grow into toddlers it doesn’t get much easier, now they can walk and climb and pick up everything! So, what do you do? Do you give in to the chaos and live in a heavenly mess? Or do you stress and panic, running around trying to keep everything perfect? Neither option sounds very appealing, so maybe there’s a happy medium.
“Having kids is like continually cleaning up after a party that I didn’t attend.”
Let it go
The first thing you need to do is to accept that your house will not be perfect. And quite frankly it shouldn’t be. You have a baby, there are much better ways to spend your time than constantly cleaning. The sooner you relax and accept that toys will be on the floor and crayon will be on a wall (even if you don’t actually own any crayons – it just magically appears there), the better for everyone. The big stuff, the highchairs, changing tables and spinners etc, are only needed for a short time, so don’t get stressed when they ruin the aesthetic of your kitchen, the paraphernalia gets smaller as your children get bigger.
“Cleaning is easy, it’s just putting stuff in less obvious places”
Get stuff done while they sleep
Clean while the baby sleeps, unless you’re exhausted, then have a nap, the cleaning can wait. But if you have some energy and the baby is down for a nap, then get a bit done. Stick the monitor on your belt so you’re not stopping every two minutes to make sure everything is ok. If your baby is small enough, then strap on your carrier and take them around with you. Try and use this time to do the jobs you can’t do when the baby is awake. And don’t be scared of noise, you’d be amazed how easily your baby sleeps through the white noise of the hoover.
“Your house should be clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to be happy”
Play as you work
When they are little you can get lots done by chatting to your baby while you work. Folding clothes, loading the dishwasher, even the ironing can all be done while the baby is in its highchair or bouncy chair. As long as you’re paying them attention with a chat or a story, they’ll be happy. For toddlers it’s often easier to let them help, yes, the job will probably take twice as long, but they’ll be delighted to be involved.
“The house was clean yesterday, sorry you missed it.”
Have a catch-all basket
A basket at the end of the stairs or in the corner of a room can be a lifesaver. You can drop errant toys, bibs, towels or whatever other debris is dropped about the house into it and then when the baby goes to bed it’s all in one place and you can easily put it away.
“I have discovered the secret to a clean house, never allow your husband or children into it”
Set a timer
Cleaning shouldn’t take over your day, you also need time to recharge and have a moment to yourself. If your baby usually goes down for an hour nap, set a 30-minute timer and try to get as much as you can done. Then reward yourself with a cup of tea and some well-earned me-time. We’ve got some ideas for how to spend your 10 minutes of me-time here.
“Remember men would prefer a woman with a dirty mind to a clean house” - Kathy Lette
Feeling overwhelmed? Can’t get motivated?
Invite someone over. Nothing will get you moving faster than knowing that someone else will see your house. I’m sorry, I know it’s tough, but sometimes you’ve got to be cruel to be kind.