A friend recently expressed her frustration at the state of her home these days. Having a one-year-old who recently began walking and has also been clingy with her lately, she feels it is dirty and she never manages to get it clean, or it doesn’t stay that way. It’s been a few years, but I vividly remember this time. Keeping a clean home may or may not be one of your values. It was one of mine, and I certainly struggled.
Since we somehow managed and I felt I was able to get some sense of order, I’ll share some of our tips with you.
First, ignore the clutter. Move it to one side of the room if that helps you. It helped me. Clutter during the baby and early toddler stage is inevitable since there is just so much STUFF. Second, if you can, focus on cleaning when your child is not awake or not home. Mom’s Day Out programs are great for this purpose, or a regular day at grandma’s or aunt’s house. Just get that heavy cleaning out of the way so you can focus on the day-to-day fun of having a little one. Which leads me to the third tip, which is to stay on top of it. Go ahead and expect to tidy up daily, several times a day. Get over the dislike of cleaning – we all have it – and get it out of the way so that you can manage your home. Your children will become accustomed to having to wait a few minutes while mom sweeps under the table and wipes it off after lunch, and throws a load in the washer before walking out the door. It will soon become second nature, part of your day, and things will not become dirty and overwhelming.
Finally, and this is the one I with which I have a love/hate relationship: let your child help. Encourage him to help, when possible (not when you have an appointment and you’re getting ready and getting the kiddo fed). Expect a mess but teach your child early on how to be a part of the management of the home you all live in! When they are older they will expect to do these things, automatically, and you can avoid the “bring your dish to the counter/put it in the dishwasher” fight when they’re in middle and high school. It will also help them as adults, because when we learn early that maintaining a clean home can be easy and part of everyday life, it seems like far less of a stressor and more of an expectation. You’ll feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when you’re organized and your house is in order regularly….meaning when free time arrives, and it will at some point, you will have more time to enjoy other things!