Firstly, let me say from the get go, I don’t think a tidy house is the be all and end all! In fact, my house is usually pretty shocking in the tidy stakes. Neither my husband nor I are very good at it, and we have quite low standards when it comes to what we consider “tidy”! However, I love the IDEA of a tidy home and have started following some tips from the wonderful Lynne Harbison (of My Home Space….highly recommend following her on social media where she has a great group) and through her I’m learning how clutter in the home can lead to relationship discord and general stress which I realise is completely true!
She has an amazing free e-book all about her system for maintaining order in your home with fantastic advice. In the meantime, I’m going to share how I very loosely keep on top of things with a 2 year old about the place!
Tidy when you have small children will mean something different than it did before those little people arrived in your life. Pre-kids = every surface clear and nothing on the floor. Post-kids = A few baskets filled with visible toys in various rooms, books in a low, eye level bookshelf and surfaces clear of most things but today’s clutter of whatever is in use that day is acceptable. At times throughout the day, the house will be in “FULL PLAY MODE” with paints, toys, craft items
YOUR CHILD/REN ARE NOT YOUR ENEMY!
When your 9 month old (or whatever age they start crawling) discovers the joy opening drawers and pulling down knickknacks from shelves, they are not doing it to annoy you!
I had to adapt my home to create safe things for Charlie to “discover” and throw around…and put away some breakable home decorations for a while. Once I accepted it was only temporary and it was Charlie’s home just as much as mine, I was able to find peace with this change!
On this note:
DOWNSIZE THE KNICKKNACKS
Just take them away for a few months until your developing child loses interest in anything breakable! Plus it’s soothing…you are likely to have more toys around, especially at a low level, maybe in some new cute baskets, so your house won’t look empty without your usual decorative touches. To be honest even though Charlie is now older and is starting to understand what can and can’t be touched, his gross motor skills still need refining and he careens into most things when just walking around the house, so I’m keeping smashable things away a little longer!
I HATE the idea of a daily sweep, it feels like a lot after a busy day of parenting or working (most likely both!). But, I decided to time myself doing it and it honestly took only about 11 minutes. I scooped up the toys that were out, cleared up dinner stuff and wiped down the kitchen. That’s it. Two or three days of toys and clutter will start taking 20 or 30 minutes, but if you do it every day, it really is only a 10 minute job.
Lynne from My Home Space says that "even a 5 minute sweep in the evening can make a difference."
This leads to the next point which is:
EVERYTHING HAS A PLACE AND EVERYTHING IN IT’S PLACE
If you’re doing your evening sweep, and don’t have a location for toys, or paperwork, or kitchen equipment, there really is no point. It doesn’t have to be “instagram worthy” pretty, it just needs to be functional (also something I struggle with). I have baskets for toys, and a toddler sized bookshelf, a shoe cupboard (shoes being kicked off in the hallway is a bugbear!). Having places you can throw things into quickly and close the door behind it makes for calm and content evenings!
Life isn’t about cleaning and tidying, but I hope these little tips help maintain a little bit of calm in your household when you have babies and toddlers! Let me know if you have any other tips or if this has helped you in any way.