When people come over to our house they all say the same thing: how do you keep your house so neat with a baby?! Which is funny to me because I constantly feel like we have toooo much stuff, BUT relatively speaking, it is on the lighter side when it comes to baby toys/gadgets. Our approach is pretty Marie Kondo – I want our daughter to see all of her toys, play with what brings her joy and give each of them a home so they’re easy to find/put back. We certainly collect all sorts of crap and it’s easier said than done, but when we stick to a handful of basic rules, it’s a game-changer.
Here’s how we keep our house tidy with a toddler:
1. We don’t buy a lot of toys
Rule numbero uno: we don’t buy her a ton of toys. Limiting what you bring into your home is the key to not having too much stuff. It will still collect though, trust me! Grandparents, birthdays, etc. help the piles grow. But beyond not wanting stuff, the more important part about not buying her a ton of toys is that we’re teaching her gratitude and appreciation for everything she has.
2. Babies love everyday objects
Just because something is marketed and sold as a toy doesn’t mean a child will love it anymore. What I found early on is that Leo loves to play with items that aren’t “toys” – she loves cups, bottles, anything in mom’s bag, spoons, pamphlets, etc. I let our daughter keep all that I just mentioned in her toy area as she plays with them just like she would an actual toy and she loves them just as much.
3. We edit and sort often
From the newborn stage to age 3 there is tremendous growth and interests/needs change frequently. What I’ve found is that Leo loves working on a skill until she’s mastered it then she moves on. For example, her most recent obsession was screwing bottle caps on and off. She worked on this for a few days and once she mastered it, she found a new skill to conquer. Her attention to bottles dissipated which meant it was time to get rid of the excess bottles hanging around. I edit and sort often, then clean and store each item by age for her sibling(s).
4. Give everything a home
I found that giving her toys a home makes it easier for her to play – just like an organized closet makes it easier to get dressed. Putting toys in categorized baskets or setting up Montessori style shelves is not only better for her playing experience but it also keeps things tidy. We have baskets in most rooms and in her room along with the living room (the two places she plays most) we have organized shelves in which she knows where things go. After we play with one activity, I encourage her to put it back where we got it.
Teaching our daughter to love books from birth is something we’ve made a priority. We started reading bedtime books as a teeny tiny baby and to help encourage her to enjoy them, we’ve created book areas in every single room. A stack of 5-10 books takes up very little space but gives her something to do when she’s on the hunt for what’s next. The key is putting the books somewhere where she can safely and easily reach them.
What are your secrets to keeping a clean house with kids?