We talk a lot about baby proofing our houses to make them safe for our little ones – because it’s important and all precautions should be taken. But what about kid-proofing our houses to make cleaning easier? Sure – it’s not a safety factor but it is a sanity factor. With three kids and pets, I started to feel like all I ever did was clean. Until I decided to change the rules of how messes get made and cleaned up around my house. These non-negotiable household rules have made things run much more smoothly and I’m no longer frustrated and yelling like a maniac about the constant messes I have to clean up.
I absolutely hate doing laundry. Getting all the clothes, sorting them, folding, putting away, it never ends. To get out of having to do mountains of laundry, I gave each of my kids a laundry hamper with an improvised basketball hoop on top. Now, they get to shoot their dirty clothes into the hamper. My older kids are responsible for getting their clothes into the wash and then after I’ve done the folding, they put them away. My time doing laundry has been cut virtually in half.
The rule in my house is that no kid is allowed to have more toys than they have a place to put them. That means that before every birthday, Christmas, and other gift-giving holidays, we grab a few old toys that no one plays with anymore and we put them in the donation pile. To make sure that we all keep to this rule in order to avoid an avalanche of toys in our house, each child is allowed one toy tote in their room.
This may sound bonkers, but I recently painted my fridge with chalkboard paint and I attached a small basket to the side of the fridge that is kept filled with chalk and an eraser. The amount of paper, pens, lost markers, and stray crayons marring up my furniture is now gone. My kids can doodle to their heart’s content and then it takes me less than a minute to wipe it off my fridge.
In our house, kid toys are simply not allowed in the living room. Sure, they can play with toys in there all they want, but no toy will remain there. At the end of each afternoon, my kids are expected to put their own toys back in their toy boxes in their bedrooms or I confiscate them in toy jail. It may sound harsh but having a living room where I can relax in the evening without tripping over LEGOs is heavenly. Also, it teaches my kids to put their things away and to have respect for our family space.
Before I got organized and started creating menus for meals and snacks, our grocery bill rivaled our mortgage and we had a ton of food waste. We also ate a lot of “kid food” in various shades of orange that generally came out of boxes. Now, we eat what’s on mom’s menu. My kitchen is less cluttered with snack boxes, my kids eat healthier foods, and our costs are way down. When my kids protest that they hate cauliflower rice then they can either go hungry or have a peanut butter sandwich.
Creating this set of household rules has meant that my husband and I don’t have to feel like we live in a kid-centric amusement park of snack packs and building blocks.
More Parenting Tips:
- How and Why You Should Stop Yelling At Your Kids
- 7 Real Life Ways to Save For Your Child’s College Fund
- How to Know When to Fight Your Kid’s Battles