House Cleaning with Kids

Updated on February 05, 2014
A.F. asks from Bellmore, NY
19 answers

I have one child, almost five years old. Currently, I work full-time as an aide. The great thing is I do not bring any work home. Since my daughter is a very early riser, I start doing laundry on weekends by 7 am. I also try to get in vacuuming and mopping. Then I'll change sheets. I feel like I exhaust myself but that is also now due to pregnancy. Alyssa usually wants my attention to play with her, so I try to do as much as I can early as I don't have the energy later in the day to do it. In April, I will have the baby and I know I won't have the energy in the beginning to clean. I'd just like to know how other parents' organize a flexible schedule to clean. I feel very unproductive weekends if I don't at least vacuum. It needs to be done more but by the time I make dinner, do dishes & bathe Alyssa, I'm done. I also want to have more fun with Alyssa but I feel like I need to clean first or I won't get to it later. Thanks for the advice.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for the advice. I saw a few comments about my husband and how much he helps. Dave has a demanding overnight job and he has been going back and forth to NJ weekends lately working on a rental property he is desperate to sell. He really does help when he can. Dave takes care of our daughter on Mondays, the day she doesn't attend daycare. He always repairs things and mows the lawn or shovels the snow. So he does not usually vacuum, mop or dust. He was a huge help for Thanksgiving in terms of

cooking. I know my mom will help with Alyssa when the baby is born when she can but it won't be everyday. We cannot afford to hire a cleaning service. However, if I ever go back to full-time teaching I hope to at least once a month. I will definitely think about ways I can get Alyssa to help me clean too. She wants to clean my shower doors but that's in the tub and for fun. I guess it's time to involve Alyssa in helping me clean.

The only thing I disagreed with is being able to get things done if Alyssa had a play date. The parent would have to come to my house and stay with their child because they're only 4 going on 5. And if the parent didn't know me, I'm sure she would stay. So I would not be cleaning then.

I also do try to make a list of which day I can clean what but then I get frustrated when it isn't accomplished. I also need to find ways to clean quicker and more efficiently. Thanks again!

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answers from New London on

In my opinion, and this is going by what I have experienced, I clean through the entire week while still getting in time with them and then the weekend is my "time off". It is my time to be with my kids and kind of just relax a tad for the exceptions of: dishes, laundry, and cleaning mopping after meals. Also I ask everyone to use the same dishes throughout the day (as long as they are not sick). It drives me crazy when I see cup after cup or plate after plate being used when all you have to do is rinse them off and set them aside then reuse them. It saves some major time

Also sometimes you just gotta know when to say screw it with cleaning. It isn't more important then time with family

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I fly lady. Also, my kids are responsible for their stuff. They keep the playroom and their bedroom clean. :-). My oldest would wash the floors for me, but she uses too much water.

Also, you might doing laundry more often, I throw in a loud almost every morning when I get up, and then move it to the dryer before I leave. If I don't do it in the morning, I do it at dinner time, moving it after dinner. I then have the kids help me put it away in the morning, it takes us 5 minutes. I find doing a little everyday keeps everything done.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

Cleaning the house with kids is kind of like eating Oreos while you brush your teeth.
Take my advice--the chores will wait--you child needs your attention and time more than a floor needs mopped.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I agree with the idea that some cleaning can wait.

You know, when my son was five, I taught him how to vacuum. It was a lot of work at first, but then it got easier-- he started getting better at it and this is a job I do pay him for. He likes to earn money for toys.

There's another hint from a book called "All of a Kind Family" by Sidney Taylor... in it, the mother needs the kids to dust well, so she hides a small amount of buttons for the kids to find as they dust. If they have dusted well, they will find all the buttons. You could try that, or even hide a penny or two in there as well.

But do make sure your big girl gets some good one-on-one time with you. And make sure your significant other helps too. Or have someone come in once every other week just to do floors... there are options and you want to make life liveable for everyone. Many women I had worked for hired out that work (I am too cheap and would rather do it myself, but I only have one who is six.)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I think your standards might be a little high.

If you walked into my house at any time, you would think it was fairly clean. However I don't feel the need to make a weekly check list of things I *have* to clean. I clean things when they seem like they need it.

I don't even have little kids any more, and I still won't force myself to clean X at a certain time or day every week.

I think you need to let go a little and realize the dirt will always be there.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I like what "OneandDone" said. I agree.
On my deathbed, my goal is to say "You know.....I should have cleaned
One day my kids won't need me or have time for me.
They will be busy living their lives so the chores can wait a bit.
I do what is necessary & tackle the rest when I have time & energy.
So I always throw in laundry very early in the morning, throw dishes in
dishwasher night before then turn it on once everyone wakes up, wipe
down all counters (kitchen & bathroooms), tidy up putting things away.
Then a couple times of week when hubby is home to be with the kids I do
all the bigger projects (deep cleaning the bathrooms, major dusting,
more intense vacuuming), mopping etc.
I do everything myself so I figure I get to set the schedule.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Have her help you clean.
You'll be spending time together and getting some work done.
At that age our son loved to help me vacuum, change his bed and fold laundry.
It's good for kids to be involved in the cleaning process instead of watching you be the servant of the household.
As they get older they can help with dishes (putting into dishwasher and putting clean dishes away), do their own laundry.
By the time they are teens they should be cleaning the bathrooms and the rest of the house (and garage and cars and yard work) too.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

2 strategies- 1. we cut corners.
We have robots. The scooba and the neato. One mops, the other vaccums. I run them a few times a week while we are out of the house. They do a decent job. Fringe benefits of having cleaner floors is that it keeps everything relatively cleaner as there is less dust kicking about and settling.

We use a crockpot and we cook 3x what we would eat for any meal. So it will be chilli for dinner, chilli left overs for lunch, and chilli in the freezer for some day on which hubs/ i don't feel like cooking.

2. we encourage independence and participation.
My 3 year old is thrilled to load unload the dishwasher, set the table, clear the table, and do "special cleaning." I spray, he wipes. He likes to take out the trash and the recyclables. He makes his bed and helps to make ours. He also likes to "wash" dishes, but it's largely water play. He puts folded laundry away.

DS gets a bath nightly, but its just 2-10 minutes of playing in the tub. He srubs his own face, ears and neck. We shampoo his hair once a week and call it done.

F. B.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

At least some of the time, she should be helping you clean. It's a great way to spend time together and cleaning and cooking are life skills ALL children should learn, both girls and boys. My kids LIKED helping me when they were little. You should take advantage of that before she gets much older!
Dad should be helping too, where is he all weekend?
Your daughter needs to see you as a mom, not a playmate. She needs to know how to entertain herself, and use her imagination. If she doesn't have playmates in the neighborhood let her invite a school friend over. I was ALWAYS able to get more done when my kids had friends over. They were happy, occupied and out of my hair.
It's wonderful to have fun with your kids, but I think fun comes AFTER chores are done. Does this mean you have to have a perfect house, or that you are never flexible in your schedule? No, it just means that children need to learn that part of being a family is pitching in and cleaning up before going out to play. A dirty, messy home is depressing, unhealthy and chaotic IMO. I REALLY hope your husband is doing his part too, especially since you are working and pregnant.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I gave myself permission to lower my standards after baby number two.

I clean what needs to be cleaned when I can and keep the laundry up by doing it frequently. Everyone helps me with laundry - my three year and one year old sort socks and scatter the clothes; my husband and I fold and put away. If I keep things reasonably tidy, then it never gets to the pit stage. Every night my kids put away their toys and they know to put their dirty clothes in the hamper. We use one bathroom (our master) so I have fewer bathrooms to clean. Otherwise, my spare time is spent with my family without guilt. I will not be judged by how clean my house is or isn't. Also I won't get to the end of the line and wish I spent less time with my family. Good luck.

P.S. OnePerfectOne, absolutely brillant and spot on. :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

Let it go. Do it when you can. Your a Mom not a housekeeper. Good luck and give yourself a break!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My kids help. They are 6, 8, and 10. They do a lot, but they have to. In order for us all to have family time and time to do their activities, we all have to help. It's all pretty easy for them, but the quick stuff they do saves me a lot of time.

All 3 of them were running the vacuum when they were 3 or's fun! So let Alyssa do that. Alyssa can help unload the dishwasher, let her put the silverware away and even put the other things on the counter. She can help with laundry - teach her to start the washer, move the clothes to the dryer, and get them in a basket. Then you can fold. At 5, my kids were putting away anything that goes in a drawer, plus the towels.

So my point is to find things she can do and have her help.

My husband also works long hours and far away (4 hour commute daily), but that doesn't get him out of helping with the house and kids. By the time we both connect at home in the evenings, I've also worked a 9 hour day, taken the kids wherever they needed to go, most likely done some light cleaning and started dinner. Did I forget the homework help part? So my husband definitely has to help.

The other thing is to let the house go a little - it's fine. If you want to play with your kid, then play with her. No one is going to judge you for spending time with you kid and the house being a little messy.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Here's how I dealt with that delima: I hired help after every baby.
I also arranged for my mother to stay one month with me to help not only with the daily tasks of cooking and cleaning, but also to take care of my older child and entertain her until we got past the hump.
I lost my housekeeper after the birth of my second baby and move to a larger house. By this time baby was 2 mo. old and I decided to see how I could get along taking care of two kids and doing my own cleaning (3000 s.f. house)- man, that was a messy experiment. My house suffered. If you cannot afford a housekeeper for a once or twice monthly cleaning, then one of two things will suffer, your time with your kids, or the cleanliness of your house. If you live in a small space, then maybe just maybe you can keep up with it. I could not.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Peoria on

I find it easiest to break up chores on different days. I change sheets on Thursdays, bathrooms on Fridays, dust and vacuum Saturdays. I usually do each of these in the morning so I can hang with the family later in the day. I started a Saturday chore list for my boys too since that is the day that takes the longest (they are older than yours though). Since your daughter is five, keep it simple. ..she can empty trash cans, help fold some laundry (think wash cloths and towels), wipe down baseboards, dust tables, pick up toys/books off the floor, help put on bedsheets, maybe even make the bed with your help too. Try to incorporate her into your cleaning routine as often as you can. It helps build self-esteem and it teaches responsibility. Give lots of praise and go easy on the critiquing. She will love the recognition and feeling like a big girl. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Does Alyssa help with chores? She's certainly old enough to have a few of her own. Here is a NYT article with a good list of age appropriate chores for kids.

Also, I try to spread the chores out so they're not all one day. Does your husband help? If we do slack off, we spend a Saturday doing laundry while one of us cleans the bathrooms, one does the kitchen, when that's done I usually do the living room but he does all of the vacuuming and mopping. (that's just how we split the chores.) Usually I try to do a wipe down every other night of the kitchen then the bathrooms. If I'm really on top of things, I'll throw a load of laundry in before I go to work and then in the dryer when I get home, so there's not a big pile for Saturday. My daughter is in charge of picking up her own toys and making her bed. She also likes to help me strip it for washing sheets, but she's not quite good enough to get it all off herself yet. :)

My daughter just turned 7, and I don't remember having to ever entertain her as much as you do Alyssa. I mean, obviously when she was an infant, I did, but I could wear her while I did chores. At some point, she needs to learn to entertain herself or she's going to really resent her new baby brother or sister. My 7 year old is very excited about her new brother coming in May/June, and keeps telling me all the things she's going to be in charge of with him. I keep telling her she doesn't have to take care of him, that's my job, her job is just to love him. She's decided her official job will be to teach him to read and help keep him out of trouble. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

You set up a daily schedule so that you don't get overwhelmed. Break it down by morning and afternoon chores. The crockpot becomes your friend.

Get your child to help setting the table and loading the dishwasher. Have her help you dust the walls and tables.

Put in a time for play with your daughter. Have her learn how to play by herself in her room with her dolls and such.

A clean home does not have to be sterilized daily. When you have the second baby there will be adjustments and you will find your happy spot. I have been there wanting to have house beautiful only to have an acceptable house. Soon this will return to beautiful once all your children are in school. No kid cares what the house looks like so long as they are loved and happy.

the other S.



answers from Boston on

Prioritize dishes, laundry and meals and seek help or let some slide.



answers from San Francisco on

I have found that if you fill the child's "attention tank" first, you get a lot more time to do what you need to do while the child entertains themselves. So I would switch it up to giving her about an hour or so of your time first and then start cleaning. You could put a load of laundry in first so that it will be ready for the dryer after your hour or so with Alyssa. You should be able to clean the bathroom and vacuum before Alyssa wants/needs your attention again. For me, if I can only get to the bathrooms, vacuum and do laundry over the weekend I'm fine. The dust on the furniture is not going anywhere without me! Ask hubby to change the sheets when he gets up and you could include Alyssa in cooking so you get quality time with her while also accomplishing a necessary task.



answers from Dallas on

Sometimes you can let the housework go a little. No one will be injured if the windows get cleaned every 2 weeks. Try to use a slow cooker for meals. Less work and clean up.

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