So, its undoubtedly my most commonly asked question – just how DO you keep your house so tidy with two young children? It’s been impossible to answer before because where would I begin? Instagram is great for giving short and snappy answers to simple questions but it has always been in the back of my mind that one day I could answer this frequently asked question in a detailed and honest blog post. I’ll share my top ten tips to keep on top of it all and make sure that your house is always inviting and clean.
Firstly, I’ll start off by saying there is no magic answer or secret. It’s hard work keeping on top of household chores, cleaning, washing, ironing, vacuuming, cooking, organising…. the list is endless. If you’re not someone who is naturally tidy then it will always seem to be on top of you and it will take a real lifestyle change to make that shift. Being motivated is key! I cannot relax in the evening knowing my sink is full of dirty dishes and my goal is always to have my home looking clutter free and clean by 7pm. I’m a busy mum. With a Shopkin obsessed six-year-old (Sofia) and Lego crazy three-year-old (Leo) I constantly feel as though I’m tidying up and that I don’t have a moment to myself. So, when the kids go to bed its finally my time to relax and have some well-deserved ‘me time’. For me there is nothing more decadent that being snuggled up on the sofa with my husband, uninterrupted and watching some Netflix! I don’t want to waste that time in the evening cleaning and tidying and that’s my motivation to stay on top of things during the day.
Also, I’m very fortunate that my husband, like me, loves a tidy home. We certainly weren’t always this way – if only you saw our first flat when we were teenagers! We used to sleep in orange patterned sofa bed in our living room. Oh, and there was a delightful red swirly carpet! But having children made me nest and strive to always have a clean, spacious and comfortable home and I guess that’s rubbed off on him! We’re a real partnership and in the evenings, when the house seems to be at its most chaotic, one of us tends to bath the children whilst the other has a blitz of the messy, post -meal time kitchen and toy filled living room so that when it comes to the kid’s bedtime, we can relax. In our home, we often don’t get to have a conversation during the day without the kids squabbling over the iPad, asking for food or shouting, ‘Mummy come and see what we’ve done!’ So, the evenings are very important to us to make time for each other and reflect on the day.
I have certain chores that I do daily, without fail. Bigger jobs can often wait until the weekend such as scrubbing the bathrooms (my worst job), cleaning the windows and washing the bedding, to name a few. I’d also like to add that weekends are family time for us. I try and get these jobs done early in the morning so that the rest of the day is free. Particularly Sundays, there’s nothing better than going out a big forest walk with our muddy wellies and a flask of hot tomato soup in tow, to then coming home to a cosy, tidy home and a roast ham Sunday feast! It’s my very favourite time of the week. Leo can polish off an adult sized portion and it’s such a joy to watch him eat! Anyway, I digress. I’ve prioritised what I think is key to a tidy home, which I think equals a tidy mind.
1.) Always go to bed with a tidy kitchen. If my entire house was messy and in need of some TLC I would always start with the kitchen. The kitchen is the heart of our home where we tend to gravitate towards from meal times (we save the dining room for special occasions) to homework tasks. I also load the dishwasher at night ready to quickly to put away in the morning. I wipe down my worktops, clean my hob (it’s always dirty after dinner) and most importantly I have it clutter free. Everything should have its place in your home. Make your kitchen a place that invites you to cook a delicious meal for the family and try not to clutter it with letters on work surfaces and the kid’s homework strewn across the table! Put your bread away out of sight in the breadbin and have your worktops spacious and easy to wipe down. For me, having my kitchen floor sparkling is a must. As I have white floors my kitchen doesn’t feel clean until they’re done and the floors are always the last thing I do. It’s a joy to wake up to a bright and clean kitchen and will encourage you to clean away the breakfast mess to maintain it throughout the day! Also, before I go to bed I fill my sink with boiling water and a touch of Zoflora. The fresh, sharp aroma fills the whole house! Their new lemon zest scent is perfect for this!
2.) Make your bed as soon as get up in the morning. It may feel like a chore at first but it becomes second nature once you get into the routine of it. How much more inviting will your bed look after a long day at the office with fluffed pillows and a puffy duvet? Make sure your clothes go straight into the wash hamper and avoid any temptation to throw clothes on the floor or pile up on top of your dressing chair! Your bedroom is the one room you should be able to relax and switch off from your daily stress. You deserve it! Create a calming and beautiful haven to retreat to at the end of a long day is a must.
3.) Vacuum daily! You may not need to do this is if you don’t have children but I vacuum at least once a day. I also have thick carpets and my Shark NV800UKT (the best vacuum on Earth) has such a strong suction that it pulls up the pile making them look bouncy as well as clean. If you do this daily, the vacuuming will be become less of a chore if you don’t let the mess build up! And who doesn’t love some vacuum tracks? To me it says luxury!
4.) Have a place for the toys and never allow clutter to build! My children both have clever toy solutions from The Great Little Trading Company. Their furniture can be expensive but in my view, it is worth it. They have storage to fit any bedroom and have an abundance of pretty solutions to make it look aesthetically pleasing! Also, don’t buy until they have an offer. They always have an offer on the go and if you open a new account you will be offered an introductory code! You can also buy cheaper alternatives in IKEA. I store my children’s toys in compact foldable boxes which can easily be carried around the house dependent on where they want to play. I always encourage them to help tidy things away when they get bored and this is easy to do even with toddlers when things are getting chucked into a box! My daughter will often do this without being asked as she’s older and used to helping. Of course, it’s important to allow them to play and be messy children too, but it’s always a good routine to get into of helping with the tidying up in the end. If you don’t have room in the children’s bedrooms you could invest in a stylish ottoman to keep in your living room or hallway. No-one will know the brightly coloured plastic contents lurking inside. You could even pop some pillows on the top of it in the evenings to make it into a stylish little bench.
5.) Organise what you need the night before. I always leave the kids uniforms and outfits laid out the night before right down to their underwear and matching accessories! Mornings for me are the most stressful time of the day and not having to scramble through their wardrobes helps massively! I also organise their school/nursery bags and prepare their snacks ready to grab in the morning. I have a family planner on our kitchen wall with all our important dates, homework and P.E reminders so we’re never in a panic about things we’ve forgotten (This is when I usually create mess!) I also have a mail storage box and notice boards where I can quickly put letters and reminders. This has made a huge difference to our lives in terms of being organised and not leaving the house is a whirlwind of chaos each morning.
6.) Do your laundry daily. With two young children with a love of spaghetti bolognese and a husband who does a physical job, our laundry basket is always full. I’d also like to add that both the kids know to put their clothes straight inside at night! Laundry can very quickly build up in the hamper and I find that although it’s never empty (life’s goal) it is at least manageable if you keep on top of it daily. I like to put a wash on in the evening as I hate hanging clothes up inside the house and I could count on two hands how many times I’ve gotten to hang it outside this summer! So, I hang the washing up before bed so that it doesn’t annoy me during the day and it usually always dry in the morning ready to be ironed or folded away.
7.) Do those little jobs that are needing done straight away. This may seem simple but if you leave all those little things until later they will mount up and become a burden. For example, if your work tops need a polish, do it now! Don’t wait. It’s amazingly satisfying how much time this will save in the evenings, like I said less time cleaning, more time for Netflix! It’s helpful to have those commonly used items accessible. Duplicate your favourites so that you don’t run out. Zoflora, toilet bleach, anti-bacterial wipes and glass cleaner are essentials. I like to store them on all levels of the house to I’m not constantly running back and forth.
8.) Don’t neglect the small details. Plump your cushions at night before bed, fold away your blankets and straighten out your curtains. I even put the remote control out of sight! Your whole mood will be better when you wake up to a home that you want to spend time in and look forward to coming back to in the evenings.
9.) Get rid of things that you don’t need. From the catalogue you had sent through but haven’t had time to look at, to the neglected children’s toys they no longer play with. If you don’t need it, it’s not being used and is generally bugging you as it doesn’t have a home then it’s time to get rid. Sell it on eBay, recycle it or take it to a charity shop. A clutter free home is the aim and will make tidying and cleaning a much easier and quicker job.
10.) Plan your daily clean and tidy up at a time that works best for your family. After I drop Sofia at school, I take my Leo out straight after. He has the most energy to burn in the morning after his breakfast. We go to the park, playgroup, soft play and I try to tire him out for lunch time. When we arrive home, he likes to relax on the sofa and watch some Peppa Pig. Whilst her cheeky piggy antics keep him entertained I quickly do as much as I can! Perhaps when your little one naps you’ll have the opportunity too. Although, when my children were babies I wanted nothing more than a well-deserved rest and a cup of hot tea that I could finish during nap time! My children really miss each other during the day so come home time from school they usually go off to play upstairs for a while and this gives me another chance for a quick blitz without having the kid’s arms wrapped around my feet and to prepare dinner. Note, I usually have a fifteen minute window before the squabbling begins!
Every family has different schedules and dynamics and your routine will be unique to your own circumstances, do what works for you! Try not to find excuses not to get things done. The more you get into the routine of maintaining your tidy home, the easier it will become. Reward yourself when it’s all finished in the evening with something you enjoy. For me, it’s an ice-cold glass of prosecco! Ah I can taste it already! Happy cleaning everyone and good luck.