10 Ways to Combat Messiness When You Have Little-Bitties – A Guest Post

I’m off having fun with my family this week, so I’m welcoming Jessie from Vanderbilt Wife today. 

Hi, I’m Jessie. And I am a slob. It’s good to have somewhere to confess that, isn’t it? Unfortunately, my husband is a slob, too, which makes it extra hard to keep a tight ship around here. Add a 60-year-old, bug-infested house on top of that … and we’ve got problems. Right here in Scenic City.

And additionally? I have a two-and-a-half year old daughter and a five-month-old son. We are right in the throes of toddlerhood with no end in sight, considering we might like to add a few more babies to the mix. While they are certainly adorable, having little kids sure adds a lot of STUFF to one’s home.


In a prime example of do what I say, not what I do, here are 10 quick tips to keep toddler and baby paraphernalia from taking over your home.

1. Leave. My house was a lot less messy when I worked full-time, even with a baby. Because if you aren’t home, you can’t make a mess! Schedule outings. This will also help wear your kids out so you can have a nice, long naptime during which to work!

2. Rotate Toys. I have my daughter’s toys split into four cardboard boxes numbered 1 to 4. After she goes to bed on Sunday night, I switch out one box of toys for another (so she is only playing with 1/4 of her toys at a time). She very rarely misses a toy she doesn’t have out, and it keeps the mess slightly under control.

3. Find Storage. My life got better when my mom bought us one of these storage cube units from Target. We have five cloth buckets and one empty space that holds puzzles or large toys. Libbie can put things away in the buckets randomly. Or, if you’re super-organized, you could label each bucket to hold certain toys.

4. Be a Minimalist. Do you really need a swing, a bouncy seat, a jumperoo, a playgym, and an exersaucer? Especially if your baby is only 6 weeks old? If your child isn’t big enough to play with a certain toy, consider lending it to a friend until he is. (Our Rainforest Jumperoo has been passed around for four kids in three families!) If you plan in advance, you could even split the cost of the item and then agree to resell it at a consignment sale and divvy up the profit.

5. Only Eat at the Table. My toddler can be found by the trail of crumbs she leaves. Eating at the table at least keeps them in one location. (A definitely example of do as I say …) Also prevents finding a three-week-old apple rotting under the couch.

6. Pass on Your Baby Clothes. This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. I thought I would keep ALL my daughter’s clothes just in case we had another girl, someday. But when we found out David was a boy, I had to reassess. It was silly to keep clothes in tubs taking up room in my house for 5+ years “just in case.” Except for a few sentimental items, I’ve given away or sold most of her clothes. Yes, they are cute … but there will still be cute clothes if I have another girl.

7. Buy a Vacuum with Some Great Attachments. You will need them for sucking up crumbs and cleaning the couch. Trust me.

8. Have a Central Toy Location. We don’t have a playroom, but I love the idea! I have heard from many friends that a playroom keeps toys from being dragged all over the house. We try to keep the toys in Libbie’s bedroom or our living room … but it’s not terribly effective.

9. Breastfeed. I think breastfeeding is not only beneficial, it’s the lazy woman’s choice! No bottles to wash and sterilize. No formula to have to remember to buy. If you can get away with not pumping, that saves work too. (I say this somewhat facetiously … yes, I know breastfeeding can be difficult. I still think nursing in the middle of the night is a whole lot easier than making a bottle.)

10. Relax. My mom tells me quite often, “Someday, your house will be clean. And you will be sad that there is no one to make it dirty.” Yesterday, I was in the middle of unloading the dishwasher when my daughter asked me to read to her. “No” was on the tip of my tongue when I thought, Why NOT? The dishwasher can wait. We had wonderful snuggle time and read a whole stack of books.

Jessie is a freelance writer and editor, a stay-at-home mom, and a blogger in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She writes about faith, motherhood, food, and being an abysmal housekeeper at Vanderbilt Wife. You can find her on Twitter, too, @vanderbiltwife.


  1. Ohhhhh, I loved this! Thank you for sharing. I’m a slob myself but I work really hard on deslobification.


  2. THANK YOU. I should know all of this as a mother of 4 but I slip and take the dishwasher’s needs over my kids sometimes. Great tips, love the boxes labelled 1 to 4. My problem is three at home 5 year old boy/girl twins and a 2 year old. Very different types of toys. But I think I can make it work.

  3. Jessie,
    I love that several of these things include wisdom from your mom :) So glad I have helped if even a little. This is a great article by the way.

  4. Oh goodness. Yes my house currently looks like a tornado has blown through. It’s not pretty.

    For years, I beat myself up mentally that our house was so ‘lived in.’ But we LIVE HERE. Every day, all day, 3 meals a day. It’s not fair to compare myself to families who are gone most of the day and never cook in their kitchen. Of course their homes are spotless – no one is there to make a mess! I wish I had learned to cross that guilt off of my list with my first baby…not my fourth. ;)

    Excellent list! And Libbie looks so much like you – beautiful!


  5. Melissa says:

    The way I stay sane (full-time-working single mom with 3 kiddos age 6 is under) is having the kiddos spend a weekend at grandma’s once every month or two.

    The first day is spent catching up on chores or doing any big projects w/o kid interruptions (or them wrecking the rest of the house while I’m busy, say, reorganizing a closet). The second day is for sleeping in late, reading a book, taking a nap, soaking in the tub, and enjoying a clean(ish) house for at least one day before I go pick them up again. :) And the kids & grandma enjoy getting to visit with each other.

  6. Great post I Understand, My boys are four and four months old :
    Every time im trying to get chores done one or the other needs something from me. But I take it with a smile ……

  7. I have learned my lesson on clothes storage! I keep 2 nice pairs of dress clothes, 5 shirts and 5 shorts/pants from each size. It gives me a base for the next child and is not overwhelming to store. I also only need to add a few items to suppliment. I only keep shoes that look like new. I give away or sell the rest. I decided this when my now 3 year old was just over a year. I had almost 3 tubs of baby clothes and I just thought…WHY?!

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