How to keep the house clean with kids – mums share secrets

Keeping your house clean and tidy is already time consuming enough.

But with children?

That makes it pretty much impossible sometimes.

So I asked influential mums who blog about their lives, children and families for a tip on spring cleaning and how to keep their house clean with children.

And here are what they have to say – 20 insanely actionable tips to help you get back into control.

Either just starting reading, or clicking on their names will take you to their particular part.

Logo of young toddler

When your children are toddlers

We all know keeping our house clean when toddlers are crawling about is difficult.

and takes a lot of time.

They can’t understand.

They can’t communicate back to us yet.

… and they won’t listen.

But maybe we don’t have to clean up after them.

As one wise Dutch Philosopher once said more than 500 years ago…

Prevention is better than cure

-Desiderius Erasmus (1466 – 1536)

But how?

Erika Shupe – Large Families on PurposeProfile picture of Erika Shupe

Mother of five daughters and four sons

Stay de-cluttered, then organization is not such a mystery.

Everything you keep must have a “home”.

A place where it lives spaciously in your house.

Shelf containing baskets and all neatly labelled

Tip #1 – Everything you keep must have a “home”.

Peta-Jo Whitney – Peta JoProfile picture of Peta-Jo Whitney

Mother of two

Have a place for everything and teach kids to put things in their place.

Sometimes it’s easier to do it yourself, but it isn’t in the long run.

Tip #2 – Have a place for everything and teach kids to put things in their place.

Beth MacDonald – BabymacProfile picture of Beth MacDonald

Mother of two girls

I would just say to not have too much stuff.

Try and limit the amount of toys and keep on top of cleaning it up every day.

The less “stuff”, the easier it is to clean it up.

Tip #3 – The less “stuff”, the easier it is to clean it up.

Heather Armstrong – DooceProfile picture of Heather Armstrong

Mother of two

My number one tip to keeping my home clean with kids is always cleaning up one mess before getting into the next one.

Tip #4 – Always clean up one mess before getting into the next one.

Renee Bergeron – Little Earthling BlogProfile picture of Renee Bergeron

Mother of nine biological and five adopted children

I learned this lesson when my firstborn was just a toddler.

She had too many toys and would be overwhelmed by the choices and I was overwhelmed by clean up time.

So I removed all but three or four toys. I was a bit nervous that she would become bored and fussy. Instead she sat down with one toy and played with it for about 20 minutes.

Baby playing toys by herselfI have continued with this method as our family has grown.

In my opinion if your kids can’t clean up all of their toys within ten minutes or so it time to clear some out.

Set your children up to be successful.

Even if you don’t have room to store excess toys, I would still choose a few manageable toys over an abundance of toys that is overwhelming to everyone.

Tip #5 – Remove all but three or four toys

Preventing food fights during meal times

Anyone who’s had a toddler will testify that it’s almost impossible to keep the house clean after a meal.

But Allie is able to find a way to at least prevent food fights happening.

Allie Gaunt – One Handed CooksProfile picture of Allie Gaunt

Mother of one son

From a young age I teach my kids to place any food they don’t want in a bowl at the side of their plate.

This stops them throwing any food they don’t want on to the floor.

I also like to teach the sign “Finished” when the little ones are too young to talk.

They sign “Finished” when they have had enough and I can clear the plates before the food fights begin.

It’s a great way to keep mealtimes positive and to build trust and to respect hunger and fullness cues.

Baby signalling finished eating

Tip #6 – Teach your childen to sign for “Finished” to stop them throwing food.

But something is bound to happen…

Angela Roy – Mommy PRProfile picture of Angela Roy

Mother of two daughters

Always have a container of Lysol Wipes handy.

They are easier & quicker to grab in a pinch.

container of disinfecting wipes

Tip #7 – Buy a container of Lysol or disinfecting wipes in case emergency

Logo of young school girl

When your children can communicate

When your children old enough to communicate and understand, it is time for them to step up to the plate.

It is time for them to help keep the house clean..

Give them tasks.

Set a timetable.

Below are some ideas to get them to do just that.

Scarlet Paolicchi – Family Focus BlogProfile picture of Scarlet Paolicchi

Mother of two

Teach your children the importance of organization and make sure they know where things go.

If you can get your kids to put things away after they use them, cleaning is so much easier.

Make sure you have your children become more responsible for helping with the cleaning as they get older.

Tip #8 – Teach your children to put things away after they use them.

Lisa King – The KingsProfile picture of Lisa King

Barnardos Mother of the Year 2015 Tasmania. Mother of 3 boys

My boys are at an age where they can take on a bit of responsibility themselves, and because I’m a single Mum now, I’ve had to stop doing everything myself or else I will go insane.

I used to stress about how clean my house was (or wasn’t!) but now I’m just happy if it’s tidied every day during the week, and then we do a bigger clean on the weekends.

My boys have jobs that they have to do every day to help around the home.

Sometimes it’s hard to not to everything myself because I want it done right.

I have learnt that most of the time it’s better to just let them do it, because it means I’m not cleaning all day, and they’re learning how to be responsible.

Young boy making bedDuring the week they have to keep their beds made every day (because for me having beds made makes me feel like at least half the house is tidy!), things are picked up off their floors, as well as other jobs which they’re responsible for (e.g. Setting or clearing the table, washing up, taking out the rubbish).

Then on the weekends they have bigger jobs they do such as cleaning a bathroom, cleaning toilets, dusting in their bedrooms, vacuuming and mopping floors.

If they do these jobs without me nagging and without complaining, they earn their pocket money. If the jobs aren’t done they lose pocket money as well as ‘screen time’ which means most of the time the jobs are done, and everyone is happy :)

Tip #9 – Start small. Enforce making their beds everyday.

Adrienne Falkena – A big little familyProfile picture of Adrienne Falkena

Mother of 4 daughters and 3 boys

Always assign the job to the youngest capable child. The older ones will always be asked to do more, but this helps spread the tasks.

My three year old is responsible, for the most part, with taking care of his own things and coming to me for whatever help I can use.

Child helping with house cleaning My four year old picks up the hallway and straightens the toy box. She cares for her own things and straightens the milk crates each child keeps their shoes in.

My six year old takes care of her own things and keeps the living room tidy and the laundry room neat.

My eight year old mops the living room, cares for his own things, and feeds and waters the dogs.

My ten year old cares for her own things and helps the four year old with hers, cleans and mops the bathroom.

My twelve year old cleans and mops the kitchen and cares for her things and helps the three year old with his.

The buddy system helps little ones know who to ask for help when I am unable to help them myself.

Tip #10 – Assign jobs to the youngest capable child.

Sherry Hayes – Large Family MotheringProfile picture of Sherry Hayes

Mother of fifteen children

I think one of the best tips is to have cleaning times throughout the day when everyone pitches in.

Such as in the morning when everyone is first waking up, around lunchtime, just before Dad gets home, and just before bedtime.

3 children helping clean dishesA large family can be a huge mess-making monster.

But it is also a huge cleaning machine.

We just need to harness our human energy all-at-once in order to make it work.

Tip #11 – Set a time for all the children to clean together collectively.

And if you still have trouble? Give them an incentive.

Kids love games.

When you are able to turn a tedious and time-consuming event into a game, you know you’ve hit the jackpot.

Here’s how Jolene was able to relieve her stress by creating a game for her children.

Jolene Humphry – Mum Media GroupProfile picture of Jolene Humphry

Parenting editor and lead blogger

My best piece of advice with regards to parenting relates to taking the stress out of getting kids to clean their room.

I only discovered it by chance recently after being sent a stop clock and it has been life changing for me as a parent!

Saturday mornings were nothing short of chaos in my house.

Despite promising to take them somewhere nice after (and only after) they’d cleaned their rooms, my requests were always met with squabbling fighting sulking tears basically.

children doing dishes togetherOne weekend I decided to try a different tact.

Taking the stop clock I set it to 10 minutes and told them to do as much as they could until the alarm sounded and then we’d go to the park for an hour.

Amazingly they all accepted the challenge without quibble.

Instead of feeling overwhelmed with the task they could see the time counting down (and therefore knew that there was an end in sight to the ordeal that is cleaning your room).

Instead of stressing over what hadn’t been cleaned up I just ran the same drill the next morning and to my amazement it worked again.

Now it has become a race to see who does the best job in those 10 minutes on a Saturday morning and I’ve managed to turn a task that was as stressful for me as it was dreaded by them into a real positive.

It’s been a complete game-changer for my family.

Tip #12 – Set a stop clock for 10 minutes, and make it a game.

But why does that work?

Well, it turns out there’s actually a lot of science behind gamification.

One way to get your children to do something is to make it pleasurable. When a challenge is set, and achievements can be seen, it tends to drive engagement forward.

What Jolene has managed to do was create challenges for her children in a way that made it fun.

I’m sure you’ll also be able to come up with other games.

Logo of mother being overwhelmed with house work

Keep your house clean one bite at a time

Procrastination is something that hits all of us.

When you start leaving things to do “another day”, they eventually pile up. Psychologically, it becomes a battle to try and convince yourself to start on this huge task.

In order to have a clean house, below are four mothers who all agree that it should be tackled in small bite-sized chunks.

How should you split it up?

Here’s what they have to say…

Nae Peters – Adventures at home with MumProfile picture of Nae Peters

Mother of a son and a daughter

My tip would be to do a little each day, don’t wait until you’re overwhelmed.

If you do something each day it makes it a lot easier and manageable.

Tip #13 – Clean a little each day.

Annaleis Topham – Teapots and TractorsProfile picture of Annaleis Topham

Mother of three

My best tip would be to work on one room at a time.

I use a basket I put everything in that doesn’t belong in there (usually toys) so I don’t get distracted when I go to put them away.

Then take the basket to each room putting things away and adding things from that room that don’t belong.

Tip #14 – Put everything that doesn’t belong in the room into a basket.

Sonia Stackhouse – Life Love & HiccupsProfile picture of Sonia Stackhouse

Mother of eight boys

I don’t suppose locking them out of the house until bedtime is morally correct huh?

My tip would be tidy a room each day.

It is unlikely you are ever going to have a whole house tidy again until the kids move out so you may as well enjoy at least one room at a time and pretend the rest of the house is as neat as that one room.

Pretending is merely exercising the imagination and exercise is good so – win / win.

Tip #15 – Tidy a room every day.

Toni Lee – Something GorgeousProfile picture of Toni Lee

One thing to remember is always to do a quick clean up each night before I go to bed.

I make sure everything is back in it’s place, the kitchen is clean and floor swept.

I think it’s always nice to at least wake up to a clean/neat home.

Tip #16 – Do a quick clean each night before going to bed.

How to keep your house clean when you fall behind?

Of course, life happens.

Not everything goes according to plan.

What can you do when you’re really far behind?

Rosemarie Groner – The Busy BudgeterProfile picture of Rosemarie Groner

Wife. Mother. Blogger. Budget Guru. Lover of all brownies

My best cleaning tip is actually for when chaos hits.

When the house gets away from you and you’re so behind on everything that you don’t know where to start.

This trick is almost fail proof.

Set a 15 minute timer in the worst room of your home. The room you absolutely dread dealing with.

15 minute timer to clean houseClean it for 15 minutes and try to make the most impact possible.

If you want to stop after that, go ahead and stop. You did awesome on that first step!

If you’re still motivated (you almost always are after such a successful first step), then tackle the next worst room in your house for another 15 min.

Continue until you feel more in control or until you’ve done 15 min. In every room. For the things that you couldn’t get done in the 15 minutes?

Let it go. That’s for another day.

You just did amazing.

Tip #17 – Tell yourself – “Do no more than 15 minutes”

Trae Flett – Where’s my Glow?Profile picture of Trae Flett

Mother, writer, procrastinator, lover of shiny things

The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” is so true.

Surround yourself with supportive people that can cheer you on during the bad days and high five you on the good days.

It doesn’t have to be family.

It can be friends, a mothers’ group, interest groups, a neighbour, whoever you feel can encourage you to be the best parent you can be.

And maybe share a wine with you when the kids are asleep.

Tip #18 – Surround yourself with supportive people

But what is most important?

Lastly, when all else fails…

Just ask yourself.

What is more important?

A clean house..


Spending time with your children?

Brooke Caputo – Does This Couch Make Me Look Fat?Profile picture of Brooke Caputo

Mother of four

Lower your expectations, and you’ll never be disappointed.

Don’t worry about the mess, your kids won’t remember it when they’re older.

But they WILL remember you spending time with them.

Tip #19 – Lower your expectations.

Tat Apostolova – Mum In SearchProfile picture of Tat Apostolova

Mother of three

Accept that you home will not be as clean and tidy as it was before kids.

You’ll have a much happier time if you’re present with your kids than if you worry about every little item that’s not where it’s supposed to be.

Tip #20 – Accept that you home will not be as clean and tidy as it was before kids.

With thanks to all the mothers that responded with their helpful tips, you can visit their blog by clicking on the link next to their name.

Please leave a comment if any of the above helped at all for you.

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