Kids make life messy. It's a fact. And it is my belief (or excuse) that kids who are home all day instead of at school or daycare make life even messier because they're home all day, eating (or dropping) food, playing with (or throwing) toys, using the bathroom, etc. Although it's hard to keep up with the little cuties, it's also totally possible. Whether you leave the house or stay at home to work, you can avoid the embarrassment of having food all over your kitchen floor when your neighbor stops by to say hi.
Have a System
The first step to a clean and organized home is planning for a clean and organized home. It doesn't happen by accident. Everything should have its own place and everyone in the family should know those places. From toy boxes to shelving to filing cabinets, you can find handy ways to store your stuff and declutter your home. Clutter breeds chaos, and chaos breeds more clutter. It's a vicious cycle. End it now by making a small investment in storage bins and perhaps a laminator.
Train the Kids
Your kids may look all cute and helpless, but they aren't. Even toddlers can help clean up. Start them young by teaching them to put toys away when they are done with them. As they age, designate appropriate chores that each child can handle based on their age and maturity level. Getting the kids involved in keeping the house clean will help you immensely. Don't forget to encourage the behavior with high-fives and lots of praise so that your children actually want to clean.
Set a Schedule
Pick one room a day to give a good deep cleaning. You can focus on the kitchen on Monday, the bathrooms on Tuesday, and so forth. This way, your home will always be clean, despite any daily damage that can be picked up quickly at the end of the day. Plus, you won't feel overwhelmed, and just getting that one room cleaned will help you feel accomplished on even the most stressful of days.
Bring in a Mother's Helper
Once or twice a week have that nice teenager down the street stop by to play mother's helper. She entertains your little ones; you get the house all shiny. She doesn't cost as much as a house cleaner, and the kids have the benefit of one-on-one time with a "big kid." It's a win-win for everyone.
Do the Child Swap
If you're lucky enough to have a close friend who lives nearby, consider swapping kids a couple times a week for a few hours. She watches all the kids on Tuesday while you clean your house, and you watch all the kids on Thursday while she cleans her house. Plus, you may even be able to factor in a little "me time" while the kids are off playing. Imagine that!
Get a Dog
Just kidding. But seriously, a dog will keep your kitchen floor clean, as my husband and children keep reminding me. But adopting a pet is serious business.
Nothing is going to prevent our kids from making messes, but we can maintain our sanity by being prepared for such messes. And at the end of the day, knowing how we will handle the stress of a mess before the mess happens is the best way to maintain a happy, healthy, and organized home life.