I’m off having fun with my family this week, so I’m welcoming Jessie from Vanderbilt Wife today. (Note: Jessie is no longer blogging at Vanderbilt Wife.)
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 former blogger in Chattanooga, Tennessee.