I’ve always refused to believe that having kids would mean that my house would always be a wreck. To be sure, kids are messy. Add to that the never-ending exhaustion of parenthood, and who has the time for cleaning?
The first few weeks after we brought Aiden home, really the last thing on my mind was what my house looked like. I was struggling with breastfeeding and trying to recover physically and mentally from what I would call a somewhat traumatic birth experience.
But eventually, I gained back a bit of my stamina. Did things go back to the way they were before baby? Not in the slightest. But even over a year later, I’ve never felt that the baby gear or toys have completely taken over my house. Here are a few ways I’ve been able to keep our house-more or less- tidy with a baby.
Minimal Amount of Toys
This, by far, is the biggest reason why we don’t have a huge mess of toys scattered all over our house. My son has a modest amount of toys. You could call us minimalists when it comes to the amount of baby stuff we have. Hardly any of his toys were things that we bought for him and we’ve been really selective about what we’ve kept.
We keep a few toys in his closet in his room. Most of these are toys that are not age appropriate at this time but will be enjoyed by him as he gets older. His other toys, we store in baskets. The one in his room is filled with stuffed animals and plush toys. The other one, in our living room, is filled with toys he plays with regularly-blocks, balls, musical toys and instruments, rattles, linking toys. A few other toys are stored on a low shelf in his room next to his board books so he can reach them.
Babies don’t need to have a room filled to the brim with toys, and that can actually be too overstimulating. We have found our son to be easily entertained even without having many toys. We regularly let him play with wooden spoons from the kitchen, plastic cups or bowls, toilet paper rolls, and measuring cups. Babies don’t care! It’s all fun to them.
Keeping Things Out of Reach
Since babies are so good at making everything a toy, we’ve tried to not have anything within his reach that can be broken or knocked over. I feel this has more than one advantage. For one thing, baby proofing everything has ensured he can’t hurt himself, and for another, it keeps our living area fairly clean looking all the time. There is little he can get into to create large messes. I’m sure this will change as he gets older and can open up cabinets and drawers, but we’ll address that when we get there.
Taking Advantage of Naps
Something I’ve done since my son was born is taken advantage of the time he’s sleeping to do a quick sweep of the living area. Clearing toys from the floor, clearing and wiping down the table and high chair, and picking up scattered toys. It takes me less than 5 minutes to do this.
His naps are long enough that I can usually fit in another big chore if needed. Laundry, cleaning the kitchen, wiping down the bathrooms, sweeping, dusting. I do all of these things while he’s asleep.
There are days I’d rather take a nap too and other days where the only time I can eat or shower is during nap-time. But it’s nice to know that I can rely on nap-time if I do need to fit some cleaning in. If all else fails and I’m too exhausted or overwhelmed, I just wait until the weekend so my husband and I can tag team.
Get Out of the House
When you’re home all day, the messes are more likely to pile up faster. For the first several months after having a baby, we only had one car and Jordan needed it for work. During that time, not only did I feel like a prisoner in my own home, but I felt like I was cleaning more often than I wanted to.
Getting out of the house definitely helped us deal with less mess but also helped “declutter” my mind in a way. Fresh air does wonders.
Let Go of the Need for Perfection
These are some ways we’ve been able to manage to keep things tidy in our home as our family grows. It will be interesting to see what works as times goes on. But when we are dealing with a particularly hectic day or week and the house falls into chaos, (and it easily can), I try to remember that this season of life is so fleeting and so special. I’d rather spend time enjoying this time than chasing after him cleaning. What’s a mess in the grand scheme of it all when your kid is learning to crawl, play, walk, and talk? Our little humans are well worth the days where maybe our houses are little less tidy than we’d like them to be.
How have you managed to keep things tidy with kids? What are your biggest struggles?