Clean House with Toddlers


I had a reader ask how to clean house with a toddler around. Even the most organized gets frustrated during this time period. This is what I wrote:

Life with a toddler of that age is messy and chaotic. You most likely won’t have a completely clean house unless you sacrifice lots of time with your child.

You can lesson the messy by:

1) Doing things together. They like to imitate and play. When you focus more on them they are less apt to create destruction. But it has to be actual presence. They can tell if you are faking attention.

2) Every hour or so, practice cleaning up whatever project and toys were gotten out with your child/children. Once they get in the habit, they might even start doing it themselves. Most kids actually like order. Give lots of encouragement and use music/songs to make it fun.

3) Have a quiet time if they no longer nap where they go in their room to quietly play while you read/relax/pray (not clean). The amount of time depends on the child. But, goes longer as you practice.

4) Keep toys in their bedroom or a play room. Not all over the house. If they takes toys to the living room, etc. They need to put them back when they are done playing. You don’t want all their toys out everywhere. So only a few toys out at a time.

5) Get help. Whether a housekeeper. Or your husband watching the kid(s) for 30 min in the evening. Or having the kids go to your sister’s house or a friends for an hour and you trading.

6) Rotate toys. If you have lots of toys, put half up so they can’t get them. And swap them out every month. Less toys to pick up and the toys get a "new" feeling to them. Keep their favorites out though or there may be a meltdown.

7) Clean as you go. Whenever you go into another room take something with that needs to be put there. Clean the shower when you shower, clean the bathroom as your child bathes. Wipe up spills as you see them happen before they harden.

8) Watch your expectations. Your house will never be totally clean with toddlers. And that’s ok.

Do you have any ideas that would help her?


  • Spot on! I love all your tips.

    I have one more 🙂 If you’re a J like me and the idea of a messy house freaks you out, keep one room off-limits and keep it as tidy and organised as you like.

    That room for me was my study but of late, they come and “craft” with me or we do quiet play here.

    I have a tub of “study” toys that just get played with here so it’s all very special when they come in.

    I love all your toy tips especially with mine turning 3 today. We’re already inundated with new stuff and we’ve only had 4 sets of people give them gifts. The party is only next weekend……….. 🙂

  • Mary says:

    My daughter is 13 years old now, when she was younger I rotated her toys so they were not all out at once that cut down on the volume of clutter. When she was about 3 or so we stayed at a nice hotel. It left an impression on her. I bought us matching aprons and we pretended that we worked in that hotel as we cleaned our house. We told each other stories about who would be staying in the rooms that we were cleaning. For fun we also pretended that we worked in the restaurant and made food for our pretend guests and cleaned up the kitchen as we planned a banquet for a wedding, etc.. We also called each other by pretend names. I have nice memories from those times. I didn’t get all of my house work done but I got some of it done. She did her best to help too. On a few occasions I asked my husband to take her our for 2 hours or so on Sat. morning so I could do some essentials like bathrooms.

  • Beth says:

    Thanks for the tips from those of you closer to that age. It’s been awhile for me 🙂

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