Keeping Your Family Home Clean And Tidy (ish): The Low Maintenance Way

Another day, another adventure. My children run in to the house yet again covered in mud. They kick off their boots in the hall and run to the kitchen to grab something to eat and drink, carrying it back to the lounge and sitting down in front of the TV. I follow the trail of crumbs and drips and take a big sigh. It doesn’t matter how much I nag my children to be careful or tidy up after themselves, I still seem to spend a lot of time cleaning. 

A cup of tea being held with children playing in the background in a low maintenance to clean and tidy house
Spend less time cleaning and you might occasionally get time for a hot cup of tea!

And despite all the time I spend cleaning and tidying up my house can easily become an absolute state. I have 3 children, a cat and a partner who all make mess faster than I can clean. Of course at times they tidy up too (well not the cat), but the amount of encouragement my children require to do anything and the time it takes them means it is often easier to do it myself. Through trial and error I have worked out how to make my house easier to tidy and get clean so here are my 10 tips for an easy life.

Low Maintenance Ways To Keep A Family Home Looking Clean and Tidy (ish)


1. Have Easy To Clean Flooring


Floor that can be wiped clean is a must with children. Yes you will suddenly realise just how much dust and crumbs can be produced in a single day if you switch carpet for wood or tiles, but the ability to clean up stains will more than make up for it. Where you do want carpet choose a pile that is easy to clean eg a nylon based one.

2. Choose Your Materials Carefully


We have dark laminated wooden flooring which we inherited from the previous owners. It is so easy to keep clean, but it frequently gets scratched by my children dragging things around. The woodstain is only in the top layer so the scratches are often obvious revealing lighter wood below. I would recommend a lighter wood or solid wood flooring as both will look better for longer and the solid wood can always be re-sanded in the future to get it looking fresh again.

Furniture will also look better for longer if made from wood too. Soft wood like pine might get dents, but these still look better than many of the white mdf/ chipboard/ composite products we have that are chipped quickly and wont repaint easily. 

3. Sofas With Removable Covers


The stain proofing on our sofas makes a big difference to how they have lasted, but being able to remove the covers to wash them will help you be more relaxed about those sticky fingers and snotty noses, especially if they are machine washable. If you choose a good quality sofa you might also be able to buy new covers for it if you decide you want a fresh look (or the damage is beyond repair).

4. Out Of Reach Shelving


There appears to be a rule with the children in my house that if you can see something you should touch it, especially if it doesn’t belong to you. The best way to keep anything you want on display safe is to put it on a shelf attached to the wall that the children can’t reach.

5. Have Lots Of Storage


If you can hide things away then they don’t look as messy. It’s a simple rule that I live by along with: the easier it is to tidy, the more likely it is children will do it. Having boxes children can just chuck their toys into after playing as well as cupboards and drawers you can hide mess in is a lot easier to keep tidy than shelving. Yes it’s lovely for children to have their toys on display, but keeping the shelves looking tidy is a never ending job.

6. Have Less


It’s obvious, but the less toys and things you have the less tidying up you will need to do. We aren’t very good at this one and my children always want more toys, so the solution for us is toy rotation. I regularly grab a load of the less popular toys and stick them in the loft, bringing down some new (forgotten about) toys instead.

7. Buy Secondhand


There are some things you know aren’t going to last long, whether that’s a cot which will only be used for a few years or a toy box that will get battered as toys are dragged in and out. Save money on these where possible by getting them second hand and you’ll also avoid the guilt when taking them to the tip knowing that they might have had a short life, but they were used well.

8. Get Your Children Cleaning


My children hate to tidy up after themselves and every single night we have an argument about the pre-bedtime tidy up, but there are some things they do without too much encouragement from an early age. At 18 months my children have been able to put their clothes in the washing basket on their own and from 4 I ask them to clear their stuff off the table after eating. They also seem to love cleaning when they are in the right mood so I regularly ask them if they want to vacuum, sweep up or help with the washing. Surprisingly my middle one loves to put the clothes away with me and see’s it as a game.

I don’t call these chores and I think it’s an important message not to reward them for helping around the house: where they have contributed to the mess then it is partially their responsibility for cleaning it up.

Oh and it should go without saying that any adults in the house should get involved too doesn't it?

9. Lower Your Standards


When people ask me how I manage with 3 children I tend to say “I have lowered my standards” and it is absolutely true. Does it really matter if the house is spotless? No. The house needs to be hygienic and safe, but I want my children to enjoy playing without having to nag them every 5 minutes. I like to ensure our living room is pleasant at the end of each day so that if I actually get 5 minutes to relax I can do it in a tidy space, but the girls bedroom? I honestly don’t care about the mess as long as I can get to their beds in the dark without breaking my neck.

10. Clean A Little Each Day


It sometimes feels like no one notices the cleaning I do around the house, but they definitely notice how bad it gets if I’m too ill to do it for a week. The Organised Mum Method (TOMM) of cleaning your home gives you checklists to do each day, but to be honest it encourages far more cleaning than I have time for. However I do apply a similar principle: a little bit of cleaning each day helps the house stay in a better condition and every couple of weeks I find time to blitz one of the rooms in the house.

If you don’t want to spend all your time cleaning and you want your children to be more focussed on enjoying themselves than the mess the key is making your house easy to tidy, accepting a little bit of mess, getting everyone involved and doing a little each day.

***Disclosure: this is a collaborative post***

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