Cheerios between couch cushions. Toys all over. Yup. Your house is officially a baby-gone-wild zone. Try these tips to keep your house clean.
Keeping your house clean with a baby on-the-go
It's happening! Your baby is nearly (or maybe officially) mobile. And with that new found mobility come a few new concerns — like keeping the dust-bunnies at bay (and out of his mouth!) Naturally you want a clean home — but new priorities can make that spotless standard a little less achievable. Here are some tips to help you keep things neat and tidy with a baby on the go.
Stopping the fingerprints, footprints and sticky stuff before they happen can save a lot on clean-up duty. Consider these simple mess-stopping tips in your home to minimize the messes before they even start.
Create kid-friendly zones. Your lovable little mess-maker doesn't need the full run of the house. Put him on a limited roaming plan! Create a few spots in the house for unbridled play discovery and mess-making. Choose convenient areas that are easy for you to keep clean and clutter-free.
Adopt a "shoes at the door" Policy. Whether your baby is scooting, slithering or crawling, he's going to be spending a lot of time on the floor. It'll stay dramatically cleaner if you adopt a "no shoes inside" policy. Ask everyone who enters your home to leave 'em at the door. You'll save on the amount of dirt, dust and germs that get tracked in every day.
Set up food-free zones. By limiting food and drinks to the kitchen and dining area, you're preventing messes...no soggy crackers to scrape off the couch. Ixnay the sticky fingerprints on your good stuff! Of course, the tough part is you'll need to teach by example on this one, Mom.
Eliminate the clutter. Clear any clutter from your coffee table and other surfaces within baby's reach. Move your breakables to higher shelves or to another room he can't access. If you have collections, consider packing them away for a few years. You won't miss dusting them anyway.
Clear the air. An electronic air cleaner with a HEPA filter can reduce the amount of dust in your home, which is a plus for both your health and your housekeeping. As a bonus, in baby's room it blocks out household sounds and provides some soothing "white noise" to help him tumble into dreamland.
Quick clean-up tricks
Multi-tasking moms become experts at finding faster, easier ways to do things. Here are a few mom-tested tricks.
Highchair helper. Place a few sheets of newspaper directly under the highchair before mealtimes. When the inevitable cracker dropping, pea spitting, and noodle tossing happen, no worries. Just crumple up the whole mess and throw it away.
Whisk away dirt. Keep a small whiskbroom and dustpan in the kitchen for quick cleanups of stray crumbs and coffee beans. Once you've swept away the visible debris, dampen a few paper towels and run them quickly around the floor with your foot. This quick habit reduces the need for mopping and hands-and-knees cleaning.
Change sheets in a flash. You want your baby's crib sheets to be crisp and fresh — but changing those fitted sheets is a chore that can be tough on an achy back. So put on three or four layers of clean fitted sheets. When the bed needs changing, just pull off the top sheet to reveal a new one underneath.
Tools of the trade
A few must-have tools will simplify your cleaning routine and save you time for what really matters — quality time with your little one.
Wipe out messes. Baby wipes are something moms keep buying and using long after their kids are out of diapers. They're perfect for little clean-ups all over the house. Keep a package in the kitchen for cleaning baby's face and fingers after a meal, then use 'em on the high chair itself. They're great for sticky spots on floors, removing fingerprints from cupboards and swabbing up the crumbs that land in the silverware drawer.
Spray away. In the bathtub where you bathe your baby, a handheld showerhead with a hose extension is ideal for gentle bathing. After bath time, it's great for rinsing out the tub. And when you do give it a thorough scrubbing, it's the perfect way to rinse away the cleanser.
Stash it in style. Decorative baskets and other containers allow you to stash away toys at the end of the day, so you can get them off the floor and out of sight — powerfully reclaiming your adult space. There's no rule that says your toy container must be a bright plastic eyesore that screams, "Our baby has taken over our lives!" So go ahead and use a container that complements your decor.
Multiple sets. Keep multiple sets of your favorite cleaning tools so they're easily on hand when and where the messes happen. Consider essentials like paper towels, a hand-held vac, dustpan and sweeper. Keep your duplicates strategically placed in the kitchen, the playroom, and the living room, so you're ready for anything.
It's clean o'clock
Babies thrive on a schedule and a predictable routine — and when it comes to cleaning, you might, too. Consider devising a regular system that allows you to work smarter, not harder.
Andrea, mom of 10-month-old Lexie, has found a routine that works for her: "As soon as I put her down for her morning nap, I set a timer and clean for 20 minutes. I make myself stop when the timer goes off. Then at night, as soon as she's down, I do another 10 minutes. This way, it forces me to be ultra-efficient. I get a lot done and have time for other 'me' things like phoning a friend, reading my book club book, or taking a nap myself."
On the other hand, the occasional marathon cleaning session can be highly therapeutic. If you need some uninterrupted time with Mr. Clean™, arrange to have baby stay with a friend or family member for several hours. Why not exchange the favor with a girlfriend?
A reasonably clean house is simply one part of keeping your entire family happy and healthy. But give yourself permission to lighten up your mother's standards if necessary during this busy time. Keep in mind that if there's a mess to be made or dust bunny to be tasted, babies will find a way to do it!
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