As a parent, cleaning up your children's messes can eat up a huge chunk of your day. From babies to teens, the young people in our lives make so much mess, clutter and even gut-churning grossness, it's no wonder it feels like there's no time to binge TV, let alone sleep.
The key to cleaning up is to keep it quick and easy. In the past, a sparkling house was considered important, but when you're raising a family, you want to spend time with them before they grow up and fly the nest. Keeping clean-up simple helps you spend more time on who matters.
10 Use Bins
Bins are a big blessing for families, especially given all the fun styles and sizes they come in today. You can assign anything in your house to its appropriate bin, which can encourage toddlers and young children to clean up after themselves. If they know Lego go into the blue bin, cleanup is less overwhelming for them.
One of the best uses for a bin is keeping it next to the stairs. Throughout the day, you can toss in things that need to go up or downstairs as you work and play, then just take the one trip to deliver it all where it goes after the kids are in bed. Easy! Keep extra bins on hand for rapid-fire house cleanups when unexpected company is arriving.
9 Use Hacks For Tricky, Sticky Messes
You already know to use a ball of craft dough to pick up other pieces of dough with it, but if you have dry pieces, try scraping them with a credit card. If they're on the floor, you can often just sweep or vacuum them up. The same goes for rice and quinoa messes: as difficult as it is to wait, just let your toddler's mess dry before sweeping it up. Then it won't smash into surfaces and get stuck.
While glitter isn't necessarily sticky, it's always a headache. But if you use a lint roller, you can clean it up much more easily. Sweep up the worst of it first!
8 Clean Up Spills Immediately
On the other hand, if your mess is of a liquid nature, get it up fast with paper towels. Add some dish soap to a damp wash cloth and scrub the remaining mess out in minutes. If there's an odor behind, use a combination of half-water, half-vinegar and bit of baking soda to get it out. Urine stains can be trickier, but enzyme sprays made for pets work well in eliminating odors.
To get a urine stain out of a mattress, mix 8 ounces of peroxide, 3 tablespoons of baking soda and a small amount of dish soap in a bottle, then spray it on the stains. Add your favorite non-staining essential oil for a pleasant scent, but test a small spot first to make sure it doesn't stain.
7 Get Rid Of Unwanted Art
Many a parent is familiar with the shock of crayon on the wall, but some water with lemon essential oil will get it off. Provide your child a space to "draw on the walls" with some butcher paper arranged at their height if they truly want to continue this artful practice.
If your child loves to put stickers on everything, use a hairdryer on the stickers to get them to loosen up and easily come off. Rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball will help clean up marker mess, while hairspray is great to use on ballpoint pen ink. Once dry, wipe it clear!
6 Create A Space For Everything
Create a space for everything to cut back on clutter. A paper station with slots or files for homework, bills to pay, mail to answer and important documents keeps paperwork organized. Try a "one touch" rule: after you touch it, it has to go in its designated space and not in a pile somewhere.
Ensuring that each family member has their own space for everything from a coat hanger in the closet to a shoe rack helps keep order and allows you to easily see who needs to pick up their coat and hang it up. Colors are great for coding these too. Keep a rule that if it doesn't fit, you get rid of it. This works great for over-flowing toy bins; kids can select something to donate if they get something new.
5 Get Them To Pitch In
Granted, getting your kids to pitch in isn't going to be quick or easy at first, but it's our job as parents to teach them this skill. Teaching kids to clean up after themselves will save you time in the long run. No, it won't be perfect, and even teenagers will still have trouble with it when they forget, but even if they help a little, it will cut down on what you have to do on your own.
If you have a partner, make sure they are putting in cleanup time, too. Everyone who lives in the home should work to make it a safe, clean space to enjoy. You partner isn't "helping you out," but doing their part as a member of your household.
4 Use Chore Charts
If everyone in the house understands which jobs there are to do and what is expected of them each day, it will make cleanup time much faster. It will also make the division of labor easier, since nobody is stuck doing the toilet every single day.
That said, if there's a chore someone prefers, allow swapping of jobs as long as it doesn't cause an issue and things still get done. Creating the initial chart might take a bit of time, but if you make a reusable one with a wipe-off board or a chore wall with pockets to put your family's time punch cards in each week, it will be easy to just rotate the names.
3 Get The Car Clean
One of the grossest spots for any parent is the car, especially if you have babies or toddlers who eat and leave their gooey, slimy, even vomit-y mess everywhere. The vacuum is your best friend when it comes to the car.
Soap and water will take care of most of a car seat mess. Stick a stubborn buckle upside-down in a cup of water and swish it around to help dislodge caked-up nastiness. Open up your car after cleaning to let it air out, and add a few drops of essential oil for a fresh scent if you like.
2 Make It A Game
Kids love to play games, see who can finish first or do something the fastest. When you need to get something clean fast, announce that there's a dance competition or a race that involves tidying up the house. Many kids will jump at the chance to race around, even if it's while picking up toys.
Putting music on almost always helps, as does seeing Mom do silly dance moves! Sweeten the deal by offering prizes like choosing a board game or a craft to do later with the child who is fastest, gets the job done most neatly or has the most helpful attitude. Now you're making memories and cleaning!
1 Use The Dishwasher
That dishwasher is great for many other uses besides dishes. Use it to sanitize your child's toys, especially after a hearty drool session. It works on Lego for older kids too. You can also put your kids' baseball caps, sports gear and rubber shoes in the dishwasher!
Be sure to wash all of these items separately from your dishes. Clean your dishwasher out afterward with a damp cloth and some vinegar. Clean it thoroughly with by pouring a cup of vinegar, a cup of baking soda and a few drops of lemon essential oil in the dishwasher, then running it on a light cycle.