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How To Play With Your Kids and Still have a Clean House
I remember about a year ago sitting across from my friend at her kitchen table. I looked around her house. Everything was perfect and clean. There was no clutter, no mess shoved away in a corner, and no dust bunnies hidden under her couch. There weren’t even dishes in her sink. Everywhere you looked it was clean. Every thing had a place and a specific spot. And I remember desperately wishing that my house could be that clean also. “How do you do it?” I finally blurted out. “How do you keep your house SO clean with kids.” She kind of chuckled knowingly and started off with this explanation; “well my kids are a bit older. Today my youngest climbed up got herself her own glass and got some water. She no longer needed me and as happy as I was to see her do that for herself; it also made me sad. She is growing up and isn’t a baby anymore. You’re still in the trenches. But, have you heard give time to get time?” She looked at me knowingly. “No… I haven’t” I replied kind of confused. But after her explanation it made sense. In order to gain time from your littles needing you every second of the day you have to be able to give them some time before hand. A lot of it boils down to that ten minute rule. Did you miss that post?? You can check it out here!!
But the real question came, how do you give each child individual time when your husband is either away at work or you are pulling double duty as a single mom??
Sometimes, life is really hard with the balancing act of trying to be there available all day and night for your littles and still keep semblance of a clean house and organized life.
So, what’s the secret to a clean house and happy children??
If you don’t have the funds to hire a house cleaner if that’s the route you have considered taking (like I have on numerous occasions) then you’ll just have to get creative in the play and work department!! Oh, come on it will be fun!! I promise!!
So we will start here. Picture this for a moment, you walk into a house where you hear screaming and giggling, the children who you can’t see but can hear seem to be engaged in play and are having a great time. But here’s the catch the house is spotless. The toys are picked up, the floor is swept, and even the walls seem to be free of sticky fingerprints and washed. Now you are probably thinking there is no actual way that this can be!! But it has happened!! I have figured out how to have a clean house and engaged kids. The best part of it all you can do it at the same time!
So grab your broom, and let’s get cleaning
For some reason, my children really love the game of chase. They love when I chase them up the stairs trying to catch them and tickle them. So when this game started as I chased them up the stairs I realized I had about 30 second lee way times to pick up the toys that were scattered on the floor. Once the toys were picked up I realized I had a minute to sweep the floor before they would come back down. You see the farther you get from where you chase them the more time you have. So sweep out one corner then using the broom pretend to sweep them up. They will go running for the hills laughing all the way!! And you can finish your kitchen and living room and all other sweeping areas.
By doing this you can get toys picked up and the floor swept. Now on to vacuuming. Okay I’ll admit I actually have a Roomba that I love and would totally recommend. We have lovingly named ours Wally because the work and time saved by this little machine is priceless. I totally recommend scouring your local buy and sells to find one!! You can grab them for a quarter of the price and they are the best things to have around. But in all honesty I would also pay full price for one because of the amount I use it. In having the Roomba it can’t do stairs so I either grab the wand vacuum we have or the broom and sweep the dirt down the stairs. This is a great time to chase your littles again. It’s actually super fun to get into this. I either cackle like a mad witch or use the famous words, “I’ll get you my pretties and your little dog too!!” and chase them as you need to clean those stairs.
Now on to washing walls…
Can you believe that keeping your house so clean could be so easy?? And so fun?!
For washing walls I start off usually by where the girls are hiding and wipe them down. The girls will peek out and I will chase them back into hiding to continue wiping the sticky finger prints off the wall. So in a simple game of chase you can get toys picked up, walls washed, and your floor swept and vacuumed. So fun right??
Other play ideas for cleaning
Now a word of caution, in order to keep the novelty of the games you’ll have to have a couple stashed up your sleeve to pull out so that the children love the games and stay engaged long enough to do the work and get it done. Here are a few more that we have done:
- Hide and Go Seek– Start the game as normal and have the children go off and hide. If your littles are anything like mine you know exactly where they are because they are anything but quiet. Since, you know where they are you can go to the messiest room and pick up a couple of toys while you pretend to look for them. Now I wouldn’t clean the whole room up because your babes will probably lose interest and come looking for you but in a couple of rounds of hide and go seek, the toy and book clutter will have disappeared!
- Get your pitching’ arm ready– Sometimes, I want the girls to help me pick up the toys so that means I need to make a game of it because who actually really likes cleaning?! Well, I do but its just the pay off of the clean smells that make me love it as much as I do!! So most of our toys are in bins, so I will get the girls to try to throw their toys into the bins as they clean. this works especially well when it is just one bin of toys to clean up.
- Use those toes– Recently for school we have been learning about our bodies. Some of the lessons talk about what we would do without different parts of our bodies and so we have now employed a game to pick up all their toys with their toes. They have to grab the toy with their toes and take and put it in the bin it belongs to.
- Hot and Cold– when I was younger I remember a game that we loved to play with our babysitter’s daughter was Hot and Cold. She would hide a toy and then using hot or cold we would have to find the toy. Once we found it we would get a turn to hide it. This is a good game to put away those stuffies that always seem to explode all over the house. You could hide them and once they are found they need to be returned to their spot and another stuffy picked up, hidden and put away. Actually you could have the children hide in a room and you could hide all the stuffies. The extended game version could be how many stuffies they can find and put away before the timer rings.
- Pick Me Up– My friend had a plastic container that was filled with popsicle sticks. On each one they had sayings like pick up 10 toys, pick up 5 toys, pick up 7 toys, etc. I think this is such a fun idea that could be extended or used as a trade in system. So I was thinking that the amount of toys could be traded in for chocolate chips or marshmallows or whatever little
bribetreat they get for picking up the toys. The extension of this little game could be done by color, shape, size, or object. So I would add into this little container sayings such as pick up all the toys that are blue, pick up all the toys that are pink, pick up all the toys that are round, pick up all the toys that are square, pick up all the ducks, or pick up all the dinosaurs. I am sure you get the hint but this would be a fun way to work on classifying and categorizing too!!
- 10 Second Tidy– I don’t know if you are familiar with this show; but as a child I watched “The Big Comfy Couch” religiously. It was about a clown and her doll that learned many life lessons together through their play usually as she dug different toys out of her couch. At the end of the show, Loonette would stand on the couch, hands on her hips and say, “Who made this big mess?!” The camera would do a close up shot of her and she would respond “I did, didn’t I?! I guess I have to clean it up, it’s only fair! So, get ready for the ten second tidy”!! and then she would buzz around whipping and shoving toys back into her couch! Some days I will play the same card with my girls. I will stand somewhere with my hands on my hips and slyly say, “Who made this big mess?? Was it babykins?? Was it Curly Girl?? Was it Big Girl?? It was, wasn’t it!! Well get ready for the ten second tidy!!” And then I will hum the 10 second tidy song as we whip toys where they need to go. The girls giggle and we land on a pile on the floor or on the couch for a quick snuggle and cuddle after it is cleaned up.
Have Fun and Clean
Cleaning and tidying your house doesn’t have to be stressful with littles, and actually can be done with them around!! Realize it might take you all morning to get things done but the time you will have to yourself afterwards because you have cleaned your house and filled your babies’ love buckets at the same time will be two fold. By the end of the day, instead of having littles who are clamouring for my attention because I have been tidying and shooing them away, are off playing together happily!! It is all because we have spent all day together playing, learning, tidying, and having a great day building memories and fun! So play Hot and Cold, Chase your babes up the stairs, get those pitching’ arms ready and throw those toys or get ready for that ten second tidy!!
Because oh puh-lease!! You’ve got this momma!!