Need some tips for how to keep your house tidy when you have children? We round up the best ideas on keeping a neat nest for the whole family
How to keep your house tidy when you have children - is that even possible? If you have small children, it’s likely that they have a lot of things that accompany them, from baby paraphernalia to toys and clothes they’ve grown out of or yet to grow in to, books, drawings and all the little things from parties and the plastic eggs you panic buy while stuck in a supermarket queue.
It doesn't stop when they get older, when it all morphs into school bags, PE kits and sports equipment. And it doesn’t just stay in their bedroom, does it?
Everyone’s different and while it’s up to you and your family to keep your house in whatever state you like - from immaculately tidy to slightly more lived-in - mess might have an effect on you mentally and a cleaner house might make everyone feel calmer, happier and less chaotic.
Here are some tips to help you keep your house tidy when you have children:
Make it a job for the whole family: Make sure all tidying and cleaning jobs are divided equally between the adults in the house - this is never just a job for woman. Get the children involved, too - from an early age they can start helping to put their toys away, or hanging their coat on a low peg. If they attend nursery or school they will be doing this anyway as most learning environments will have a daily ‘tidy up time.’
De-clutter regularly: The less you have, the easier it is to keep orderly. It’s easy to accumulate a lot of piles of paper, broken toys and things the children have grown out of. Doing regular ‘sweeps’ means it’s less of a big job than leaving it for once a year. Here's a handy list of 101 things to get rid of right now. Make sure you donate old baby toys, clothes and equipment to a specialist baby charity such as First Days.
Work around the children: While it may seem impossible to keep anywhere tidy while the children follow you around, untidying, work out what works best. Can all the adults do one big tidy in the evening post-bedtime? Do a quick dash round with the vacuum during nap time? If time is limited, try speed cleaning, where you all follow a set of rules and actions to make house cleaning quick and efficient. Watch speed cleaning videos on YouTube to get a good idea.
Try out Marie Kondo: Have you seen Marie Kondo’s Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo? While at first glance it might seem like Marie Kondo doesn't have a lot to offer people with children, in her new TV In the show she goes into family houses and teaches her KonMarie method of tidying, where, to put it simply, you tidy by category not room, starting with clothes, get everything out and ask each specific object ‘sparks joy’ in you (if not, you thank it for its service and donate it). You then have a designated space for every item, and clothes are folded and placed standing up in drawers. While the programme has as many critics as fans, it has helped a lot of people and it’s a useful way or organising everything, if it works for you.
Have a place for everything: Make sure everything has a specific home and things are put back after they’ve been used, for example shoes go in the shoe basket, school bags go under the stairs.
Rotate the toys: When it comes to children, there’s evidence that they respond better when there’s less toys in view, which makes for more creative play. Don’t get everything out, but focus on a couple of toys they can play with which are regularly rotated. Having less out will mean there’s less to tidy away.
Invest in better storage: We know it sounds counter-productive to buy things when you’re attempting to declutter (and Marie Kondo isn’t a fan of storage!). But having decent storage, especially for things like toys and shoes, will make it easier to tidy everything away at the end of the day when you want to relax post-bedtime with no mess. Try IKEA, HEMA and Tiger for cheap but stylish storage solutions.