I hear it all the time. Moms throw their hands up in exasperation as they look around their house. Toys are everywhere. Legos littering the floor, broken crayons abandoned on the coffee table, puzzle pieces in every corner. They think, “Well, a messy home is a happy home,” and give up on cleaning the mess invading their living space.
It’s understandable. If I walked into a room that was a total wreck I wouldn’t want to clean it either. But the thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe having a messy home doesn’t bother you, but it certainly bothers me. I don’t expect my house to look perfect at all times, after all I have two young children, but I do like to be as organized and tidy as possible. I get anxious living in messy spaces for days at a time. And from what I hear from other moms, they get anxious too.
There are several different tips I like to divulge when a stressed out mom asks how to keep her home tidy. My favorite one is: baskets! Baskets all over the house to throw stuff in. Another tip is to have organizational systems in place – a place for everything and everything in its place.
But the real secret to keeping a clean home is simple: teach your children to clean up after themselves. Listen, I know it’s not easy getting a toddler to understand the concept of cleaning up. Toddlers are much more inclined to ravage and destroy. Parents, however, have to remain consistent. I try my best to keep my children accountable. If they take out a puzzle and no longer want to play with it, they have to put it away before moving on to another activity. If they want to make a big mess in their room and pull out every toy they have, that’s fine with me. But before going to sleep at night they have to put it all away.
Having my kids clean up after themselves drastically reduces my own stress and it teaches them responsibility. I have my own chores to keep up with: laundry, cooking, vacuuming, and more. My kids have to learn that when they live in a house they need to contribute in whichever way they can. Right now that means putting their toys away when they’re done playing with them.
That’s really all it takes. Teach your kids to clean up after themselves. It may take weeks or years before they fully get it. But one day you’re going to be at home while your child is playing with Legos on the floor. You’re going to announce that dinner is almost ready and as you’re placing their plate on the table, you’re going to turn around and notice that your kid put all their Legos away before running to the table. It will be one of your proudest moments in parenting and you’ll be thanking your lucky stars later when you’re freely walking around your living room without the risk of stabbing your toe on a rogue Lego.