What it’s *really* like trying to clean with kids around

Dumping ALL the Legos in the middle of the living room floor after I just finished vacuuming. Check.

What it’s *really* like trying to clean with kids around

Okay, I’ll admit it—and everyone who knows me will confirm—I am a NEAT FREAK. So much so, that I find cleaning therapeutic. I know…not everyone can relate. ?

Sadly, my children do not share my love for cleaning. They more so enjoy jumping in piles of clean laundry that need to be folded, using five dishes for one meal or dripping glue all over the craft table. Even my husband grumbles that we ‘live in a museum’ on days when my need for cleaning reaches a *certain* threshold.

Though cleaning may or may not be your thing, I’m willing to bet you are painfully familiar with the concept of trying to clean while your kids make a game out of following you around from room-to-room undoing your hard work. This seems to happen at my house on a regular basis.


Smudges on freshly cleaned windows and mirrors? Check.

Spilling flour related to an impromptu kitchen experiment after the counters have just been cleaned with granite sealant? Yep.

Dumping ALL the Legos in the middle of the living room floor after I just finished vacuuming? “But moooooom, you’ve already vacuumed, so we can play here now!”

Knocking over a pile of perfectly folded laundry because they’re “helping.” Been there.

Asking (very nicely, of course) for them to not touch the cleaning solution spray bottles as you try to scrub the bathroom. 100%.

Or my personal favorite—wearing an outfit for *literally* 15 minutes around the house, then deciding it’s not the right “look” and throwing everything into the laundry bin. (Seriously?!)

I could honestly keep going for days.

Bottom line: Cleaning with kids can be maddening and can push even the strongest mama over the edge. (No wonder there are so many memes on the subject! ?)

Some days I get so frustrated, I question whether there is even a point. I often think that maybe I should just give up cleaning until my kids leave for college…

But eventually, I get a grip and take a deep breath. Because I know myself. I know that clutter makes me anxious and I know I’m happier when my house looks clean. (Yay for self-awareness!) So I often get into my daily zen space and spend 15 minutes tidying up after they go to bed. Sometimes this just works best.

But let me hit you with the real talk.

While I happen to enjoy cleaning, I also realize that I’m ‘mom,’ not ‘maid’ to my children. To keep my sanity (and also to prepare my girls for the real world where others will not be cleaning up after them), I have transferred ownership of various age-appropriate chores to my little ladies.

They are expected to make their beds in the morning, load and unload the dishwasher, help fold and put away their clean laundry, to name a few tasks. (They are six and nine.) They groan and grumble. And the eye rolls! They could win Oscars for best dramatic performance with those.

But when it all gets to be a bit much, I put on the Trolls soundtrack, and we dance while we fold laundry together. Voila! Instant fun and quality time with your kids. ?

And while everyone (reluctantly) participates in keeping our home reasonably clean, I must say—I really look forward to Wednesdays every other week when my amazing cleaning lady transforms our house into a clean, lavender-scented retreat. I get to revel in the joy of a spotless house for two blissful hours before my cute little Ambassadors of Mess arrive.

I’m not going to lie. I’ve had to work on striking a balance between my high standards for cleanliness and the rest of my families’ lower standards. Because my kids are exploring and creating and playing and, well...being kids.

Kids don’t seem to see messes—they see opportunities for fun!

They don’t always see piles of things—they see more things to take out!

They don’t necessarily see the tidiness as we do—they just see their home. The place where they feel safe and comfortable and happy to play in.

To this day, maintaining cleanliness for longer than just a few hours seems impossible with kids. But there are lots of things that seem impossible as moms, right? And yet, we power through and find a way to rise to the challenge to get the task done.

And hey, if all else fails, it’s also *totally* okay to watch an episode of Hoarders just to feel like your house is spotless in comparison! We won’t tell. ?

In This Article

    14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


    The one thing your family needs to practice gratitude

    And a tradition you'll want to keep for years.

    Gracious Gobbler

    I think I can speak for well, basically everyone on planet earth when I say things have been a bit stressful lately. Juggling virtual school, work and the weight of worry about all the things, it's increasingly difficult to take even a moment to be grateful and positive these days. It's far easier to fall into a grump cycle, nagging my kids for all the things they didn't do (after being asked nine times), snapping at their bickering and never really acknowledging the good stuff.

    But the truth is, gratitude and appreciation is the kind of medicine we need now more than ever—and not just because the season is upon us. For one thing, practicing gratitude is a scientifically proven way to boost our happiness, health and relationships. More importantly, we need to ensure we're cultivating it in our children even when things are challenging. Especially when things are challenging.

    I'm ready to crank the thankfulness up a few dozen notches and reboot our family's gratitude game so we can usher out 2020 on a fresh note. So, I've called in some reinforcements.

    Enter: the Gracious Gobbler.

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    Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

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