As this series comes to a close, it is time to focus on two important factors that influence the amount of time and energy needed to maintain a clean, organized home. These two factors are children and pets. While both factors are extremely desirable, it’s true they add to the housekeeping equation. There are, however, ways to help make the care of children and pets more manageable. Here are some ideas to try:
Children: The biggest issue for children of all ages (toddlers through teens) is mess. By their very nature, it seems children instinctively drop items whenever and wherever they are through with them. Sometimes referred to as the disease of “dropitis,” this habit greatly magnifies the job of home maintenance. As bad habits can be modified or even changed to good habits, here are several tips to try:
- Have dresser drawers and hangers at a level appropriate for the height of the child to use easily.
- Keep paper towels near sinks to allow children (and adults) to immediately wipe away any mess they make such as toothpaste droppings or spilled juice.
- Keep broom and dustpan handy (small set for little helpers) for quick sweep up.
- Have all person clear their dishes at least to the kitchen sink. Older children can put their dishes in the dishwasher or help with washing dishes.
- For families with young children who have many small toys, it is tempting to use a toy box to “throw” toys into. However, using low shelves on which bins are placed to hold like items such as Legos, small cars, balls, Barbie dolls, and dinosaurs works so much better. Children learn quickly how to sort toys into the proper bin. For preschoolers, bins can be labeled with a picture of what item should be placed there while word labels can be used for children once they can read. Encourage children to take one bin at a time and return the bin and its items when they are through playing with them. Of course, sometimes more than one bin is needed for an activity such as building a farm for the play farm animals.
- It may be difficult to believe, but most young children and even some teens enjoy helping keep their home clean. Have simple, age-appropriate tasks for each family member. As all ages like to be praised for a job well done, small rewards are a good idea to build self-esteem and help motivate children—especially teenagers.
Pets: While pets can’t actually help with housework or pick up their mess, there are steps the humans in their life can take to make having a pet easier to factor into home maintenance.
- Keep your pet clean and brushed. Even pets who never go outside pick up dust and indoor debris in their fur. Too, loose hair flies everywhere and makes the floor, carpet, and furniture maintenance much more difficult and time-consuming.
- Put disposable or washable mats under water and food bowls.
- Have a basket or attractive box for keeping pet toys
- If the pet goes outside, keep old towels near where they enter to immediately wipe paws and coats, especially in wet weather.
- Wash pet bedding regularly
- Allowing pets on furniture and in beds adds to home maintenance, but sometimes it is worth it.
We all want to enjoy our home and enjoy our children and pets. Often, just a few simple steps will help keep maintenance at a minimum and give us more time to enjoy them both.