By Nicole Fabian-Weber
Toddlers are a particularly messy bunch. It seems that something happens around the age of 2, and anything and everything that stains makes its way to your little one's hands ... and then eventually to your walls or couch.
Being that I'm a neat freak for life, this isn't something I'm a huge fan of. My daughter is 3 right now and appears to be at the height of messiness. I swear, I tidy up the house and then, boom! A second later, it's as if a bomb filled with toys and crumbs went off in my living room. I have picked up a few sneaky tips along the way, though. And even though they haven't completely eradicated the mess, they certainly have made a difference. Here, six sneaky ways to keep your house clean when you've got a toddler.
There's a reason markers and crayons and a million other things come in a "washable" variety -- because toddlers love drawing on things that aren't paper. My daughter often receives little coloring books and crayons from people, and the crayons aren't washable. Do I give them to her? Nope. Not unless we're outside. I have a gigantic stack of crayons and markers in a closet for her for when she's a bit bigger. For now, it's all washable, all the time.
Confession: When it comes to home decor, I love light colors -- especially white. But sadly, white and toddlers don't mix. Since my daughter became mobile, I've become a fan of grays and patterns when it comes to things like sofas, rugs, and throw pillows. They may not be my favorite, but they do a heckuva job masking spilled milk and ice pop stains.
If you've got a toddler, you've definitely got toys lying around the house -- and that's fine! Toddlers should play with toys! But, if you want a quick, easy cleanup, invest in a few cute baskets for those toys. It's much quicker than meticulously putting everything back in designated boxes and shelves ... and much cuter than having a big ol' pile of toys in the corner.
Image ©iStock.com/Jodi Jacobson
I know this may sound crazy -- especially to busy moms -- but, I swear, it's worth it. No need to go crazy with cleaning your home, but a quick wipe down and tidy-up sometime in the afternoon makes the evening cleanup much easier. Also, if you're like me, you think better when your place is clean, so it's nice to have (a few moments of) a clean house at midday.
There are so many different parenting philosophies to subscribe to, but one that seems to really work for my family is the "less is more" theory when it comes to toys. Mean parents that we are, we rarely buy our kids toys – instead, we rotate them. Every few weeks, when my daughter is asleep, I'll take a few of the toys she plays with in our living room and kitchen and put them in the basement, and then, bring up some new ones. She's always excited to find "new" things waiting for her when she wakes up. And fewer toys = less mess. Win-win.
It isn't realistic to spend a crazy amount of money on your children's toys - kids are expensive enough! But spending a little bit extra on well-made, beautiful toys goes a long way. Not only will you have the toys for years to come (your kids can give them to their kids), a pretty doll or thoughtfully-made wooden toy is much nicer to look at than something that's plastic, on the verge of breaking, and creating further clutter (or ultimately garbage) for you to have to deal with!
What are your tricks for keeping the house clean with a toddler around?
Nicole Fabian-Weber is the mama to a sweet toddler girl and baby boy. She lives outside of NYC and writes for The Stir and numerous other online publications. Right now, she’s probably fantasizing about sleep.