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One of the most frequent questions I get is, “How do you keep such a clean house with so many kids?”
I can’t take full credit. The truth is, I’ve always been a person who doesn’t like a lot of clutter and mess. When we were little, I can remember my sis having the junkiest of all rooms, and mine was usually pretty tidy. Later, I picked up good daily habits from my mom and other women in my life to who took time to share tips with me.
With so many people in our house (10 to be exact), we really don’t have a choice in some of these daily tasks to keep the house clean. If we didn’t have a daily routine, we would be walking all over stuff, with no clean clothes to wear, and no dishes to eat off of or cook with.
How do we keep the house clean with so many people in it?
First big secret: it’s not THAT clean. We more or less give the appearance of clean. Meaning, we:
- We put stuff away. Most everyday before rest time, which happens daily between 1:00 & 1:30, we pick up toys and books and just generally straighten up the house. Every night before bed, we pick up again, making sure that all (okay, most) things find their way back to their places. I can’t tell you what a different this one thing makes, and it takes 15 minutes–tops. Trust me, we know because we set the timer. Otherwise, wayward preschool kids and toddlers become even more wayward.
A place for everything, everything in its place. ~ Benjamin Franklin
- We purge continually. The other big thing is that over the years, we have purged and purged and purged some more. Recently, a friend and I laughed about my forgetting that she had bought a piece of furniture from us years ago. My response to her was, “Girl, I’ve sold so much furniture since then!”And it’s the truth. The more children we have brought into our home, the less excess furniture we have. The whole less is more thing…it’s true. Because we have less furniture, we have less clutter and more open spaces. Plus, living in a smaller than average home with a much bigger than average family only allows for so much; eventually, something has to go!Cleaning is easier because there are less surfaces to worry about getting dusty or cluttered.
Daily routines are KEY to keeping a clean house
Some things we do daily, other than pick up toys, so that I don’t lose my mind. I like it neat, even if it’s not actually clean-clean.
You understand the difference, right? Neat to me is this: counters cleared and wiped, dishes washed and put away, floor swept and/or vacuumed, table wiped, bathrooms presentable. Most of the time I don’t care what it looks like under the counter and in cabinets, just so long as it isn’t visible.
The truth is, we only deep clean occasionally. You know, for birthday parties, holidays, and company. It’s that eat off the floor kind of clean. [Except, don’t do that in my house.] Floors mopped. Windows and glass doors hand print free (do you even know how long that lasts with 5 children under 10?). Bathrooms disinfected and spotless. Furniture dusted. This heavy duty, actual cleaning happens a lot less frequently than our daily pick up.
8 Easy Steps to Keep the House Clean with a lot of Kids:
Here it is–my secrets about how to really keep the house clean with more than a few kids. This is what we do daily to help us maintain a clean house and keep this Mama happy.
- Make beds. One minute is what it takes me to make my bed, and it makes the whole room feel cleaner. (Okay, so it does take the kids more like 2-5 minutes to make their beds.) All the kids also make their beds daily.I should say though that my little ones do not prefer a top sheet, so that helps with the time it takes to make the bed, and they don’t use comforters or bed spreads, just their favorite blanket. It’s folded neatly at the foot of the bed. They straighten their pillow, arrange their “stuffies,” and fold their blanket at the foot of the bed. So easy, so quick!
- Wash dishes or load the dishwasher. We haven’t always had the best luck with dishwashers, but now that we’ve finally replaced it again (insert eye roll), we just add dishes to it all day and start it at night. However, if you don’t have a dishwasher, I suggest washing dishes at least twice a day, provided you are home all day and that you have several little people you are home with. For us, it was usually after breakfast and after supper.
- Dry and put up dishes. Now with the dishwasher, I unload the dishwasher while I am cooking breakfast, but before, we dried and put up dishes at night, allowing them to air dry during the day. I like for the sink and counters to be tidy before I go to bed just because. And I get to start completely fresh the next day, which makes me feel a little better.
- Fold laundry promptly. As soon as it comes off the line (actually while I’m out there usually) or out of the dryer, I try to fold. Less wrinkles = no ironing. Also, my kids help by doing their own laundry, so it’s a team effort.
- Wipe table after each meal. We kind of have to do that since we have school at our dining room table, but still, it makes the room feel cleaner. We also don’t have to worry about sitting down to sticky messes at other times even when we aren’t doing schoolwork.
- Sweep kitchen once a day. That’s our goal, anyway. Some days we miss, but usually not too much because 10 sets of feet in and out all day long drag in a ton of sand.**Since I originally wrote this post, we have taken up all carpet in our house and put down hard flooring throughout. Because sweeping the entire house multiple times a day was for the birds, we invested in a Shark cordless vacuum. (More than a year later, we still love the Shark! Hands down most used tool in our house.)
- Vacuum/sweep dining room nightly. We vacuum the dining room or sweep it, however the mood strikes, every night. Again, cordless Shark to the rescue! I honestly considered a more expensive brand, but we have been nothing but pleased with Shark’s version. And it gets used a lot, like multiple times a day!
- Quick pick-up. We pick up everything off of the floor (whole house) every night. We set a timer for 10-15 minutes and typically, all join forces, and the whole process is done. Seriously.
Working Together With the Kids is How We Keep the House Clean
By myself, I couldn’t even keep the house even looking tidy. There’s too many people with too much going on in our house for me to do everything for everyone. We have to work together. We are a team in everything we do, and when we don’t work together as a team, things don’t go as well.
Involve your children to help you clean up the house. My philosophy is that we all live here, we all make messes, and we all work together to get the house clean again. Make the house a place you all enjoy. You’ll be teaching your children responsibility and keeping your house clean at the same time!
If you are discouraged with how your house looks, try these easy ways to make it look neat. Choose one or two and focus on them until they become habit, then try a couple more. Before long, you’ll have good cleaning habits that make your house (if nothing else) look clean!
Great post, sister. Our routines are pretty similar. Yes, yes, and yes to getting rid of the clutter. Clutter makes me crazier than normal – can’t take it! 😉
Brina Lynn says
“Crazier than normal” haha, yes!! Gotta have routines to keep me sane. 🙂
The most basic way of keeping things clean is to have everyone remove their shoes at the door. Even if you have wooden floors, still insist on shoes coming off.
Hoovering etc keeps the floors clean and cuts down on dust.
Dusting is a pain that has to be endured.
Do simple basics and life is much easier and cleaner
Brina Lynn says
Hi, Alex! Yes, those are great tips! Simple and basic, I agree. 🙂 We don’t remove shoes at the door just because that would be 18 shoes in a small entry, but maybe I should consider a hack to help with that.
Thanks for stopping by!
Stacey Pardoe says
This is a very practical post! Great thoughts! Thanks so much for sharing your ideas!
Brina Lynn says
I’m so glad you found it helpful, Stacey!
Oh you have a whole football team to help! That’s so wonderful. I only have a 3 year old so most of the cleaning is still left to me and some days i’m just like “not having any of it”. Some day it’ll always be a clean house which means the kids have all grown up and we’re old and alone 🙁
Brina Lynn says
Yuni, you made me chuckle! I suppose I do have a ball team to help, but they also make ball team-sized messes. 😉
However, I remember what it was like when I had two in diapers with no help. That’s when I decided that clean-clean just wasn’t worth it. You are so right; we only have them for a short time. Our houses can be truly clean again when they are grown!