My son, Cole, is 18 months old now and it has taken me about that long to figure out how to clean the house with him around.  Before Cole, I would start cleaning our house and  would be done about an hour or two later and it stayed that way for weeks. Now it is very different.  I have learned a couple of tricks to really help make it a fun and stress free time for us.
Clean when it’s needed:
I don’t clean every Saturday.  When you are a mom to little ones, it’s very hard to stay on a cleaning schedule.  I clean when I feel like my house needs to be cleaned and might clean some rooms more than others depending on how often we use that room.
Don’t clean for other people, clean for yourself:
This one is hard for some people to hear…you know who you are.  The kind who find out someone is coming that night and frantically get all of the cleaning supplies out and clean the entire house in 15 minutes.  I have realized in my wise old age of 27 that no one cares.  (And if they do, they might need to get a life…)  People know you have a baby or toddler and they should be understanding if you aren’t Martha Stewart all of the time.  When people stop by, I just make sure that the rooms they are going to see are picked up, clean the guest bathroom a little, and close and lock some doors!!  🙂
Plan a day or two to clean when you don’t have any other plans:
My husband has a crazy weird schedule so I never know from week to week when I’m going to clean my house.  I look at our schedule every week or two and pick a day that’s pretty empty of obligations.  I decide that’s my cleaning day and when I wake up that morning, I eat breakfast and get started.  If you lolly gag around, it won’t get done.  Our house is pretty average size so it takes one day of hard work.  If you have a huge house, it might take two days.
Pick up the night before:
Every night before my “cleaning day” I pick up the house really well.  I put all of the toys away, do the dishes, etc.  This makes you feel really refreshed in the morning and ready to work.  I hate it when I have to pick up the entire house and then clean.  I’m worn out before I even get started.
Which one would you rather wake up to?  The sad thing is that really was my kitchen one night…Cole doesn’t think anything should remain in the cabinets…ever…
Decide if it’s a “Good” or “Good Enough” cleaning day:
If you read Good Housekeeping you know they always tell you the “good” and the “good enough” way to do everything.  Decide that morning if you are going to clean your house really well or just good enough to get by.  Most of the time I do the “good enough” cleaning which is basically dusting, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, and mopping.  Sometimes I decide to do the “good” cleaning which adds other chores like cleaning the windows, baseboards, blinds, etc.  Every once in a while I do these chores too but it’s not needed every time.  It all depends on my motivation that day or if I have time.
Clean one room completely before moving on to the next one:
Before I was a mom, I would vacuum the entire house or dust the entire house at once.  Now I take everything I am going to need in a bag and clean my entire guest bedroom from top to bottom before moving on.  The reason I do this is because I want to keep my son in one room playing and not constantly moving from room to room.  It might take a little longer but you will have a happier baby.
Today is not laundry day or “organizing my closets” day:
When you are having your cleaning day, don’t do laundry.  Even if it is stacked all the way to the ceiling.  Why?  Because you will never get your house cleaned if you are constantly stopping to fold and hang up clothes.  Just save that for another day.  I always see things that could be organized or cleaned out when I’m just cleaning house.  Make a list of these areas, and do them one day while your little one is napping.  If you clean out, you will just make a huge mess and never finish your jobs for that day.
Use safer cleaning products:
There are so many toxic products out there for cleaning and most of them are bathroom or kitchen cleaners.  Make sure all of the cleaning supplies are out of your little ones reach.  I also use a mixture from Pinterest that is made from vinegar and dish soap which is a little safer.  I use that in the bathroom all the time in a kitchen sponge scrubber and it works great.
Clean the bathrooms during nap time or snack time:
I always wait until my little guy is taking a nap to clean the bathrooms.  There are lots of reasons why I do this but the main ones are that he loves trying to touch the inside of the toilet 🙂 and the cleaners could be hazardous to him.  I either wait until nap time or put him in his high chair with some graham crackers and books and clean for just a few minutes.  This works like a charm.  I also do this when I mop sometimes because I have a steamer mop that gets very hot and he REALLY wants to touch it.
Make it FUN:
Cleaning day can actually be a fun day…I know I need to go get my head checked.  I kinda look forward to it because I try to make it fun for me and fun for Cole.  I crank up my iTunes, Pandora, or put in one of my favorite silly movies (the new Hairspray is the BEST cleaning day movie ever!)  I dance around and act silly and play with Cole all day long.  We take breaks every once in a while and I don’t get in a big hurry.  If you don’t finish everything, finish up the next day or when they go to bed.  Cole loves to block the vacuum cleaner all the time and I let him because he dies laughing and that makes me smile.  If you have a new baby, vacuum around them often so they aren’t scared of it.
So what are your cleaning with a toddler tips?   I would love your comments about what works for you and what doesn’t.