It’s New Year’s resolution time. Aside from losing weight and saving money, many moms want a cleaner house. As you know, that’s not so easy with small children…and toys galore! Here are some tips for keeping your house looking nice.
Tip 1: Invest in Cute Storage
First, you need to invest in some cute storage bins to put in every main living area. I have two large, square wicker baskets with lids and one round wicker basket in the living room upstairs. In the playroom, I have six storage bins of different types. Some are toy chests. Others are large baskets. In the girls’ room, there is another large toy chest. You need all of these handy for pick-up-clean-up time. During that time, everyone grabs toys and puts them in the nearest bin.
Tip 2: Re-purpose Lower Storage Areas for Toys
Do you have a large hutch in your dining room? The bottom cabinets of the hutch can be used for games, puzzles, coloring books, and Play-Doh containers. Do you have a large entertainment center with low cabinets or shelves? Relocate the DVDs and Blue-Ray disks onto higher shelves or cabinets to clear out lower-level storage for toys. When you shove toys inside and shut the door, no one can see them.
Tip 3: Reserve a Playroom Space
I know this is not always possible; however, if you can, designate a playroom. Put the majority of the toys and all of the large toys in this room or space. For us, we have a large, open area in our finished basement. This is the playroom. It is all toys. The girls have their games, puzzles, coloring books, Play-Doh, and some dolls upstairs in other storage areas; however, 75% of all they own is downstairs. One friend of mine has two designated playrooms in her house. She has one downstairs and one upstairs. Another friend has two of her children sleep in the same room just to reserve one bedroom as a playroom. For a short time in your life, an office space can also become a playroom. (Kids aren’t kids forever! If you are sad about the loss of house space, you will regain the room in time.)
Tip 4: Purge
Toys accumulate quickly. Some toys are junk toys from kids’ meals. Other toys are broken. Kids grow out toys too. To minimize pile-up, I recommend purging. I purge toys two or three times per year. I donate unwanted toys, and I put grown-out-of toys into storage bins. Those go in the attic or under the stairs. I do not recommend doing this with the kids at home. Instead, wait for your kids to have an overnight stay at grandma and grandpa’s house. Then, you will avoid continual arguing and potential crying throughout the entire evening. If you don’t say anything, the whole process will be out of sight, out of mind.
Tip 5: Pick-Up-Clean-Up Nightly Routine
Part of our nightly routine before bed is pick-up-clean-up time. The girls may choose to do this before or after PJ’s. Everyone helps. Sometimes we sing the pick-up-clean-up song from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. (Daniel Tiger has many great songs for dealing with life and responsibility. We love him!) Here is where your cute storage bins and low storage areas will come in handy. We all just grab toys and put them into the nearest storage area. If your child can walk, he or she can participate in pick-up-clean-up time.
The whole process probably only takes 5 minutes or so with everyone helping. If a child chooses not to help, then their toy gets put up for a week. They aren’t allowed to play with them. After helping with pick-up-clean-up for the rest of the week, the toy can be played with again. (So far, we haven’t even had to do this. The mere mention of the consequence has been enough to encourage participation.)
On the weekends, we still do pick-up-clean-up before bed, but we also do one if we leave to go somewhere for the day. Some days, we may hang around the house in the morning. Of course, toys come out. If we are going to be gone for several hours in the afternoon or evening, we pick-up-clean up before we leave too.
Tip 6: Start Each Day Fresh
If you do pick-up-clean-up before bed, you will start the next day fresh. The house is picked up and looks nice. It will stay that way all day until you get home from work and the kids get home from daycare, grandma’s house, or school. Coming home to a clean house is a great feeling. (Of course, the kids destroy that peace within a few minutes of being home, but hey, it was good while it lasted!)
Share with us! Do you have any tips for keeping your house picked up?