The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Parenting and housekeeping are challenging in their own right, and when you put them together, finding a balance can be tricky. When we have kids, we quickly learn how to parent by fire, but many of us continue to struggle with keeping a clean house. And it’s not just a matter of juggling our two roles—we’re also dealing with much more stuff to clean more often.
Resist the urge to grab your cleaning supplies and a trash can and get to work.
Instead, stop and reevaluate your approach. Health hazards aside, if your child doesn’t mind a dirty room, is it really causing harm? We’re not advocating letting your child live in filth, but with some compromise, you and your child can find a balance. You’ll have a less dirty kid’s room, and you get to keep your sanity. You’ll want to start with a clean slate, so invest in a professional one-time cleaning and get ready to make life easier.
See if this sounds familiar. You’re standing in your child’s bedroom doorway, shaking your head in wonder, disgust, or both. There’s a half bag of chips open on the dresser, dirty clothes piled in a corner, and toys all over the place. You wonder how your child can stand the clutter and dirt, but chances are they don’t even notice. But you do notice, and it’s driving you crazy.
Do you want to keep cleaning up your child’s room only to turn around and do it again in a couple of days? We didn’t think so. Fortunately, there are solutions! When you lower your expectations, get your child involved, and set them up for success, cleaning automatically becomes more manageable.
Redefine What Clean Means
If you’re a white glove kind of housekeeper, you should probably throw those gloves away when you have kids. Think about it—parents have less time for housekeeping, decreased energy, and a never-ending number of messes to clean! Even the most organized and energetic people have difficulty tidying up after children. And while there’s not much you can do to stop the chaos, with a fresh take on cleaning, you can make life easier.
For your sanity, focus on the truly icky stuff when cleaning—moldy food under the bed and germ-infested laundry. Then, perhaps the most difficult part, learn to let the rest go sometimes! The sooner you accept that a little dirt and clutter isn’t the end of the world, the sooner you can find a comfortable balance of home cleanliness.
With your highest expectations shelved, you can now take a more practical approach to the chore. Kids mean messes, but they also mean an extra set of hands to help you clean up! Look at the cleaning project as a chance to bond with your child while you clean the room together.
Start the purge by cranking up some upbeat music to make cleaning the room more fun. You’ll probably have to help your child be objective during this process, but the goal is to get rid of as much clutter as possible. Decluttering means purging unnecessary clothes, toys, and whatever else you find. You and your child should make one pile for the garbage and one for donating.
It’s important that you let your child take the lead when possible, so they won’t resent you tossing their stuff. You can prod them in the right direction if you need to—just remember your new definition of clean! Remind your child and yourself that less stuff means less cleaning and clutter.
Create Better Storage
To keep your child’s room from reverting back to its dirty ways, take stock of storage options. If picking up after themselves and putting things where they belong is even a bit of a hassle, you can probably count on an increasingly dirty room. Set your child up for success by adding or making the most of the storage areas. At the very least, ensure your child can get to drawers, closet rods, and shelves easily to keep things in their place.
A toy box works well for storage when kids are young, but older children may need more specific storage areas. Think sports equipment, school supplies, and hobby gear. If possible, include your child in this process as you did for decluttering. As you did with the decluttering process, get your child involved with the reorganization. Look at bins and containers with lids, under-bed rolling storage, and other options to make the most of the space.
Do a Daily Sweep
No, not the kind where you use a broom. We’re talking about the kind where you use your eyes. Make it a habit to do a daily sweep of your child’s room to keep things under control. Hopefully, your family’s more relaxed attitude toward clean rooms and having less stuff to clean has made your child a team player. But just in case, spending five minutes or so picking up at the end of the day with your child goes a long way.
Of course, we know you may have more than one child’s room to clean, and we’re sure you have plenty of other housekeeping responsibilities. The daily sweep is an excellent way to keep your whole house cleaner longer, and you get to skip those weekend cleaning marathons. If you want to get even farther ahead of the house cleaning game, add a clean-as-you-go approach to your kitchen routine.
Now that you know how to keep a child’s room cleaner longer, you don’t have to choose between a clean room and having kids! Remember your new attitude towards dirt and dust, and don’t forget to keep your child involved. Who knows. If this whole team cleaning approach works in your child’s room, maybe they can help out with the rest of the house.