One thing I’ve learnt as a parent, is that it’s much harder to keep things nice when you have children. We’ve all been to the home of a child-free person, whose immaculate minimalistic home resembles nothing short of a show home. You enjoy the calm aesthetic as you admire their space, but you go home feeling a bit rubbish about your own house. Your own house looks lovely in the evenings, when the children are in bed, but as soon as the little cherubs wake up, there’s an obstacle course of toys across the rug and a scattering of biscuit crumbs grinding their way into the carpet. Sound familiar?
How to keep your home looking nice when you have young children
It’s taken a good few years of parenting for me to discover ways to make my home look more minimal and less cluttered. And of course, how to make an emergency pre-guest tidy up a bit quicker.
So here are a few tips on how to keep your home looking nice when you have young children…
Make sensible furniture choices
As nice as they look, glass dining tables, glass coffee tables, in fact glass anything is a no-no when you have small children. Aside from the fear of them falling through it or smashing it with that unusually heavy toy their uncle bought them, they will NEVER look clean! It takes a split second for those greasy sticky fingerprints to appear. Unless you want to spend your whole life polishing or buffing it, don’t go there. Don’t buy glass or chrome or anything shiny which shows the marks easily.
If you want to have a nice occasional table like the beautiful tables at Cox and Cox, there’s no reason why you can’t get it out for guests and put it away during the day.
Make sure all furniture is easy to wipe clean and low maintenance. If it’s an option, go scratch resistant or stain resistant.
Make sure soft furnishings are machine washable. Those curtains, cushion covers and rugs will stay nicer for longer if you can wash them properly.
Storage storage storage
If everything has a home, it can be put away. Extremely obvious right? But it’s surprising how many people just cram things in anywhere when they tidy up. Investing in sensible storage, so everything has it’s proper home is worth it’s weight in gold. We bought a unit with different sections in it, so that toys could be separated by category. For example, we have Paw Patrol in one part, Duplo in another, teaset in another and My Little Pony in a fourth section. It means the children can tidy up in a matter of seconds, as they know exactly where everything goes.
Assert ground rules
Our house became a million times nicer once we introduced the rule that the children are NOT allowed to eat anywhere other than the dining table. I will hopefully never have to scrub pasta sauce or milk out of the sofa again. It’s also nice if you put your hand down between the sofa cushions to find that coin that fell out of your pocket and don’t find a ton of crumbs which need daily hoovering.
Another rule to protect the furniture is, always use placemats and coasters under every cup, plate and bowl. They not only protect the table from scratches and cup rings, but also catch most of the food spillages.
Use tablecloths for anything messy.
No more monkeys jumping on the… Sofa.
You get the idea. These kinds of rules help keep things nice and teach the children how to keep things looking nice too.
Give the kids chores and responsibilities
By getting the children involved in housework, it means there’s less to do in a rush when you have visitors. You can even make it into a game. Little ones can wipe tables with a cloth and put toys away, bigger kids can vacuum the floor and make the windows shine. Teens should be able to use the washing machine themselves, plump the cushions or dust. If housework becomes teamwork, children generally learn to be tidier and more respectful. It also means you spend less time cleaning and more time out having fun together.
Don’t forget child safety. Heavy furniture should be screwed into to the wall, so that if children try to climb on it, it won’t fall down on top of them.
Put soft corners on any sharp edges and child locks on any cupboards which contain anything you don’t want the children getting to. You should also consider getting foam door stoppers to go over the edges of doors to prevent little fingers from getting trapped.
Avoid blinds with cords. There are terrifying statistics on the numbers of infant and child deaths caused by blind cords.
If you’re a new parent or parent to be, there’s a fab comprehensive guide to babyproofing your home on the Baby Center website.
This is not an exhaustive list, but a few tips to help keep the family home looking nice. Feel free to add any of your own tips in the comments below.