How to Keep a Tidy House with Kids Around

how to keep a tidy house with children

The moment you have kids you’ll find yourself in the world of a special kind of clutter, one that will take up space on every surface and cover your floors in no time flat.

It certainly is a huge challenge when trying to keep a tidy house with kids around.

From toddler blocks to Legos you’re going to be dancing through the minefield of tiny toys unless you do something fast to get things under control. 

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You have a number of options available to you

  • have ground rules
  • have a dedicated place for everything
  • let your children take charge
  • invest in storage bins for toys
  • create easy to follow chore charts
  • limit the number of toys every child has
  • get tough

Where do you even begin? Here I am going to look at each step in more detail.

Recognize Everything Starts in the Ground Rules

Tell your kids they can’t play with something new without first putting away the old toys.

That helps you keep things from getting out of control right at the start. 

Imperfectly Perfect Mama has great tips on keeping a home organized with toddlers.

Have a Place for Everything

Every toy and craft supply should have some regular storage place, whether you’re using a fancy system of drawers and closet organizers or recycled shoeboxes.

The important thing is to make sure anything new that comes into the house has a designated place where it lives.

Try sticking to the practice of getting rid of something old before bringing in something new, to keep from running out of space.

Nurture and Thrive Blog has some great organizing tips. Plus she tells us how children thrive when they play in an organized well-ordered environment.

Put the Kids in Charge

By creating a clean-up routine with song or dance, the tidying routine becomes fun.

Include your child in this process though. Make them the ‘clean-up supervisor,’ in charge of ensuring everything is put away properly.

Kids love having authority, which makes this aspect of the game appealing. If you have multiple children, be sure to rotate who’s in charge, so everyone gets a turn.

She Knows has tips on making tidying up toys fun for children.

Storage Bins for Children’s Toys

Designate a box or basket with the child’s name on it for their stuff. Keep it somewhere central in the house, so both you and child have a place to store items during the day.

Make a practice of putting lost items in the basket, and have your child take their basket upstairs to their bedroom at the end of the day to empty it and put away the items stored within.

That keeps you from excessive clutter all over the house.

In the child’s bedroom, it is useful to have a set of storage bins, to organize all their toys. Make it a rule that all toys go back to the storage bins at the end of playtime.

how to keep a tidy home with children

Have a Set Number of Toys per Child

This number can be anything you want. Twenty, thirty or fourty it dosn’t matter. The important thing is that you have a set limit.

If you just let toys come into the house unchecked it will soon become cluttered. As you know you simply can’t organize clutter.

Discuss with your child what toys they are happy to let go of. Children grow out of previously loved toys surprisingly quickly.

Please don’t just get rid of toys when they are not looking very confusing and upsetting for your child.

Erin Spain has a 20 toy rule to declutter a playroom

Chore Charts

Chore charts can be very useful to motivate a child to do certain tasks on a daily basis.

They work by listing chores that need to be done by each child every day. Once completed a sticker is used to mark the chore as complete.

Once a whole week has been done the child receives some kind of reward. A treat, like a trip to a favorite park, pocket money, credit for their cell phone, more screen time. Use whatever works for your family.

Make the treat none cluttering, so try to avoid shopping if possible.

I like this chore chart that uses a cookie sheet and magnets by Craftaholics Anonymous

When All Else Fails, Get Tough

First of all, you really need to ask yourself if your cleaning regime is realistic for a child to do. Is what is being asked age-appropriate?

Do they have the necessary skills to complete the task, for example, a child simply may not understand what “tidy your room” actually means.

Occasionally a child who refuses to clean up sometimes needs a little tough love.

Items left out after being asked to pick up should be removed by the parent. The child doing extra chores to earn the toys back.

However be careful this doesn’t escalate into war, children can be very stubborn at times. Negotiation is always best.

Happiness is Here Blog tells us what happened when she stopped asking her kids to clean up.


The important thing when dealing with kid clutter is to remember your child needs to be part of the clean-up process.

Teaching children good habits now about how to take care of their things is going to serve them for their entire lives. 

One of the more surprising things about involving children in household chores is how much they love doing it.

For More Home Tidying Tips Check These Out!

how to keep a tidy home with kids