Housework with Two Under Two: How Do I Keep my House Clean with Young Children?
Doing housework has never been my strong point. I don’t naturally clean my environment as I walk through the house and seem to have missed that “mom gene” where you naturally add order to your surroundings without thinking about it. When I don’t think about it, the house gets dirty…really, really fast! Once I do look around and think it’s about time to tidy up, my next thought is how? I work from home. My little ones are both under two, and sitting with them while they crawl and run around me as I work on my computer is actually easier than trying to figure out how to sweep and mop, cook, do laundry, and clean the bathrooms with them.
Full disclosure – for this blog I’m pulling heavily from the advice of some experienced moms who have been there and done that. So thank you Charity, Lindsay, and Megan for giving expert advice on today’s topic, how do I keep my house clean with young children?
This Phase will End
This stage where housework feels so difficult is just that – a phase that is short in the broad scheme of things. Your oldest will only be under the age of four for so long! Even my foggy mom brain can still do subtraction. Keeping a house clean with young children will soon become keeping a house clean with older children who are much easier to clean with.
Lindsay, mom of eight, encourages moms of toddlers to be realistic about what you really need to get done. A home that a toddler lives in does not need to be spotless. Trying to keep it spotless is one sure way to drive yourself to the brink of insanity! Don’t stress when a job simply needs to wait. Trying to accomplish too many jobs especially if they are unnecessary often results in misery for mom and children! Megan has learned that being a mom might mean lowering your previous standards for clean a bit. As moms we are responsible for meeting physical and emotional needs of our little ones often with little sleep and while serving so many meals and snacks. There is grace for you and your house.
Categorize Your Housework
Lindsay suggests assigning chores to categories. The actual jobs in each category depend on the layout of your house, but here are some examples.
- With Toddlers
- These are tasks your toddler can help with like taking out the trash, unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, or picking up. The “help” will make it take longer but kids love being a part of it!
- Contained Time
- Things you can do while your little ones are contained in some way like a playpen, high chair, walker, etc. These chores are quick but are best done without toddler help. For example, in just a few minutes you can sweep the floor, put dishes away, load the dishwasher, wipe off tables and counters, or clean a small bathroom.
- These are the tasks you need to do while the babies are asleep or out with someone else. The jobs in this category are the ones that take a little longer like bigger bathrooms or mopping a large area.
Little Chunks at a Time
Charity has found that doing a little bit of housework at a time is more successful that trying to do it all at once! If you get to go to the bathroom without a child banging on the door, you can do a quick refresh in two minutes. The same can work for the floors. Grab the swiffer and do what you can even it it’s just a minute or two! Like Megan has learned, expect to be interrupted in housework as in so many other areas of motherhood! This is a low stress way to keep up with the work. The only real disadvantage is that everything is not clean at the same time. Aimee shares in her article, how this baby steps approach can be so effective in conquering the goals we have in motherhood whether in housework or so many other areas!
Don’t Make it Worse
If you think of housekeeping in terms of hours per week, some habits increase the total number of hours spent weekly and some decrease them. For example, letting the dishes get crusty and hard in the sink increases total dish-cleaning minutes this week, letting the poop stains set into the clothes increases the total laundry-cleaning minutes, and getting frustrated and letting my son empty the kitchen tupperware while I read the news….yep it increases the total amount of time spent picking up and washing licked tupperware. These examples come readily to mind because I’ve done them all….multiple times!
This is a principal, not a rule. I got five moving boxes unpacked when I let my son scatter a hundred pieces of tissue paper all over the house while my six month old was entertained by all his excitement. Since he didn’t tear it up, the time it took me to pick up the paper was still a really good exchange for unpacking five boxes!
Include your Toddlers When you Can
Toddlers thrive on quality time, so as often as you can include them. Certainly, it won’t be as efficient, but you will be making progress albeit slowly! In this article Megan shares some practical tips on how she makes this work. Megan has found that switching to natural cleaning products from Norwex made it much easier for her to include the kids in cleaning. Without the traditional cleaning chemicals she now feels safe letting the little ones “help.”
Get Some Help
Aimee is a big believer in realizing that, although we moms are amazing superheroes…the bottom line is that we simply cannot do it all. At some point something will have to give! When Aimee started to work again, albeit part-time and had three little girls 4 and under she decided that she was pretty desperate for a once a week, deep-cleaning housekeeper. She got creative, put an ad on Craigslist and found a housekeeper (at a great, custom rate). She didn’t have to pay through the nose, her house was spotless…you know — at least for a few days a week and there was a peace that came with just letting go of needing to do it all. If it’s at all possible, budget-wise…she recommends this to all moms of little kiddos who also have to work — even if it’s just once a month help.
Megan shares that for some families hiring a once-a-week housekeeper, switching babysitting with another mom or asking grandma, sisters, aunts or friends for an hour or two of uninterrupted housework time can be a very helpful solution during this phase. (Remember it is just a phase!) Some families also find that hiring a “mother’s helper” for a couple of hours at a time is really helpful. You may be able to find a mature 12-15 year old that does not charge high rates looking for experience with children. She can play with the kids while you whip out some bathrooms and mopping!
Mommy Medicine is a group of moms that love sharing tricks, tips and strategies with our fellow moms. So send us your mommy questions you would like to see as the subject of a blog. We would love to hear from you! Subscribe here to receive posts straight to your inbox!
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (10/16/2018) Joel Bez (Flickr)