Toddler twins in high chairs

Toddler Thursday: Toddlers and a Clean House? Choose Your Battles

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We are about 2 or 3 years out since the toddler years, but I remember those days very clearly. I’ve got twin boys and their older brother, who is two years older. In the early days, when the twins were babies and not walking, it was a bit easier to keep our household clean. My biggest worry was whether or not the main floor washroom and front hall were presentable for guests who came often. The rest of the house stayed pretty orderly and clean.

As my two year old became more independent and turned three and the babies turned into one year olds, crawling and cruising around, playing with more toys and progressing to solid foods, my priorities began to change. Feed three kids and wait to clean up the disastrous mess on the floor and the dishes and play with them to keep them entertained, or feed them, clean the mess, wash the dishes for 20 minutes and let the kids entertain themselves with their toys or a TV show? I often chose to hang out with the kids and let the mess wait. I’d get to the mess…eventually!

Messes build up fast, however, so I also tried to pick the spots I wanted to keep “mess free” or as mess free as possible, because my boys seem to leave a trail of stuff here and there, no matter how hard I try! I didn’t have the energy to be constantly cleaning every room of the house. There are three of them and only one of me!

So I chose my battles. I chose the rooms I was willing to see get a bit chaotic and messy, such as the TV room, which quickly became the toy room, because I could see it from our kitchen and know the little ones were safe, while I did take care of other business…like nursing my cold cup of coffee at a distance.

Aside from that mess under the highchairs and the piles of bottles and sipToddler twins in high chairspy cups in the sink waiting to be washed, the kitchen was a “mess free” zone. I kept it kid free and mess free if we were not having a meal. I was not the mother who allowed my kids into the cupboards and bottom of the stove to pull out pots and pans to clang on for hours on end. They had other noisy toys in the toy room just for that reason! I kept a baby gate up so there would be no toddling or crawling throughout that mess free zone. Pots and pans strewn across my kitchen floor would have been yet another mess to have to take care of and for any mother of twins or more, you know the minutes in the day seem to whiz by and before you know it it’s time for you to go to bed. I did not have time to be picking up these random messes in every room of my house.

Other ways I tried to contain the mess included:

interlocking mats
As found on

Using foam interlocking mats beneath the twins’ high chairs, which worked as a catchall and were easy to either sweep or pick up and shake off outside or in the sink and wash down. Sometimes I’d throw them in the tub and soap them up for a really good wash, then air dry. They were really helpful with avoiding constant mopping of the kitchen floor.

I chose to keep the pile of toys contained in decorativstorage boxe closet boxes, such as sweater boxes, which looked like they were just a decorative part of the room. I stacked them at the end of the couch, which was farthest from the toy room (aka TV room) entry and the least visible spot.

I am sure there are many other ways to keep a house orderly when you have little toddlers going two or three different directions all day long, but these were a few of my proven and favourite ways to go about it.

Moving forward in life, when toddlers grow to school-agers, I can’t say that containing the mess gets any easier and the messes will begin to move into other rooms, but you can always strategize, strategize, strategize new ways to fight the mess!

Yet there will always be the kind of day where you’re getting ready for work and come out of your closet area doing the “I just stepped on a Lego Storm Trooper head” painful dance that will remind you that you can’t always win the battle of the mess.

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Carolyn - Twintrospectives

Carolyn is the full time working, volunteering, keeping active, Canadian mom of 5 year old twin boys and a 7 year old boy. Carolyn was introduced to the world of parenting in a rush, with the sudden arrival of her 31 weeker firstborn. Two years later, her twin boys thought they’d show up their older brother and showed their little faces at 27 weeks and in just as much of a hurry as their big brother! In just shy of two years Carolyn experienced the NICU twice for three little ones. The biggest lesson she took away from their NICU experiences was a lesson in patience. Carolyn learned to slow down, breathe and focus on the things that mattered; her little boys, her husband, her family. Although her twins experienced many hurdles while working their way through the NICU and she took them to close to two hundred appointments in that first year, Carolyn took time to reach out to the “preemie” community, which spans the globe. The unusual experience of having preemies and multiples has opened up all kinds of unique opportunities Carolyn never knew existed until she started her family. Carolyn has joined organizations promoting premature birth awareness, multiple-births awareness, chairs Multiple Births Canada’s Preterm Birth Support Network, writes a monthly newsletter for the Network, blogs and guest blogs, all in the name of NICU, preterm birth and multiple birth awareness. You can check out her blog at Twintrospectives.

45 thoughts on “Toddler Thursday: Toddlers and a Clean House? Choose Your Battles”

  1. I’m a tidy/clea freak…or I was till I had my son. Now I’m surrounded by toys most days. I tidy them away during nap time in the afternoon and when he’s gone to bed. No point in trying when he’s up. As for cleaning, I sweep after meals and try and wipe round but I miss having a good deep clean every now and then, as sad as that sounds. The other day I dusted the TV cabinet with my cardigan! #twinkleytuesday
    Becky (EducatingR) recently posted I’ve got my Weight Loss MoJo back! (I think!)My Profile

  2. I have to say, I find it really hard living with the mess, so I have mainly gone with the dumping the mess in boxes strategy. I have a massive trunk in the kitchen which I literally dump everything back into after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and that mainly keeps everything in check. I don’t care what’s going on in that trunk -out of sight, out of mind haha! However my favourite strategy is just basically to be out of the house as much as possible! #twinklytuesday

  3. I totally agree with choosing your battles. Why spend the next ten years nagging and shouting and stressing over keeping the house immaculate. If we accept that things don’t stay nice with small children around, then we will lead a much less stressful life. Enjoy your kids while they are young and do the house up when they are a it older! Great post xx
    teacuptoria recently posted Teacup Family TravelsMy Profile

  4. I am like this, we have mess in the family room where it is sort of contained but so much in the living room! Luckily we have tiles in their so I’ve just become redundant to that fact that I’m going to spend alot of time hoovering and mopping up crumbs haha. Oh to be Mum.

    helen gandy recently posted Glossybox August 2015 – ReviewMy Profile

  5. I’m still struggling with this. I’ve always liked things organised, to know where things are and to be able to move across a room, without standing on or falling over a random object. However, this has all had to change now we have our four little girls and I do pick my battles these days. I’m much more relaxed, but I do have the odd day where enough is enough and I need to tidy, declutter, organise and clean everywhere within an inch of it’s life!! #TwinklyTuesday

  6. We do similar toy containment in my house (or at least most of the time), his room or the TV room is where I prefer toys are played. I try desperately to keep to the toy clutter out of my kitchen and dining room and to keep them clean and clutter free. Love the mats under the highchair idea, I wish that I had thought about that when my little-man was younger (would have saved me so much cleaning time!).
    Lara @ MommyKazam recently posted 8 Things Your Kids Need to HearMy Profile

  7. I’m exactly the same. The kids are only allowed toys in the living room and their bedroom otherwise I am constantly running and back and forth between rooms to tidy up behind them. I have stairgates everywhere! I also bought two sets of storage draws to keep their toys in as well as three large toy boxes and there are still toys everywhere. It’s ridiculous. I really must get round to having that clear out.
    Unhinged Mummy (aka Janine Woods) recently posted Positivity In Pictures #11My Profile

  8. I agree wholeheartedly. You have to pick your battles or everyone loses it! Having one or two rooms that are kept tidy is definitely the way to go. I always think if the downstairs is relatively tidy, the upstairs doesn’t matter so much. As Mum of a now 12 and 9 year old, I definitely think it gets easier to keep on top of the mess but family life is a pretty messy business all around really isn’t it?! #TwinklyTuesday

  9. This is such a great post. You definitely do need to choose your battles. Normally we limit Evie to making a mess in one or two rooms max. But it’s so much easier to do that with one baby. I can’t stand it if the whole house is a mess. But I am a complete neat freak so letting even one room get strewn with toys is a great achievement. I’m getting so much better since I had Evie and I am starting to care way less. Those matts are a genius idea though! As are the bags. :-) x
    Chloe recently posted BREAKFAST ON THE BEACHMy Profile

  10. Such a great post. We have just moved the majority of M’s toys into her room, and told her she can make as much mess as she wants in there. I was sick of having my living room covered in toys and constantly clearing up. Now it’s just her room which we do before bath time! I love the foam mat idea, something that seems so obvious to do..great tip! #twinklytuesday x
    Sophie @ Mum, M & More recently posted Degustabox; July 2015My Profile

  11. Oh i totally agree with you, sometimes im like why bother tidying as, as soon as he wakes itll be back to the state it was before! Such a great read and thanks for sharing! Suz x

  12. Now I have two little people I can see some mega messy days ahead of us. I can barely keep up with the toddler now that I’m also lugging around a baby. Who knows what’s going to happen to my (sort of) ordered home when they are both on the move! I have lots of baskets and decorated tubs about the place to throw toys into which makes me feel a bit organised. I love the idea of using the mats to catch food under high chairs. The carpet in our dining room is looking a bit sorry for itself! #twinklytuesday
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted A beach day in DevonMy Profile

  13. I love the idea of getting some of those mats and putting them down somewhere permanently, but we only have a small house and have to walk through both the living room & dining room to get to the kitchen or upstairs, I can’t really put them anywhere where they wouldn’t get walked over, except for in her bedroom where we don’t currently spend much time.
    I like the idea of putting a baby gate on the kitchen door, we may just do that when she starts crawling.

    Leanne Cornelius recently posted Chicago Town Pizzas – New ReleasesMy Profile

  14. I don’t have twins but my two girls certainly make so much mess it feels like I do! They are now nearly 4 and 5 and we have started asking them to pick up the toys on the playroom floor before dinner in the evenings. I wouldn’t say the room is now left tidy but it’s definitely an improvement! #TwinklyTuesday
    morna recently posted Child for sale My Profile

  15. There always seems to be a mess in our house whether is because of the kids or some craft I am currently working on that I don’t want to put away all my stuff to get back out again. I like these tips gave and will have to use some of them! #TwinklyTuesdays
    Kristen recently posted A Journey in Speech TherapyMy Profile

  16. This post sooo resonated with me! It’s good to know that I’m not the only one struggling with the mess and prioritising what to do about it – mess or play? My littlest has just turned one and has started crawling and cruising and pulling everything down, and he is leaving a trail of destruction and mess everywhere. Sometimes I’m just too tired to clean it up straight away, though, like you say, there are certain areas that just need to be kept clean and tidy. I love the mat idea – I have got two sets of those to put under a paddling pool. Might re-purpose them for this, as it sounds like fab plan! #TwinklyTuesday
    Isabella @ Fairies & Pirates recently posted Ouch!!! My Baby BitesMy Profile

  17. I agree that it’s a battle that’s never won. As much as I’m tidy, my daughter loves a messy. We are polar opposite on this. I console myself with no mess equals no fun. I do not see this changing any time soon! A swift slam of the bedroom door generally does the trick of hiding what lies beneath. #twinklytuesday
    Nicky Kentisbeer recently posted Crop Over 2015 – BarbadosMy Profile

  18. Elodie is wntwring the mess stage now. She crawls round emptying boxes and pulling everything off tables. Have to keep telling myself it won’t last too long! #TwinklyTuesday

  19. Those mats sound like a brilliant idea. It is so important to decide what mess you can cope with and what you can’t. Then you can prioritise. I like to keep the kitchen as clean as possible too. The rest of the mess seems more bearable if the kitchen is clean and tidy. Thank you for hosting #TwinklyTuesday. I am so sorry that it has taken me so long to comment. I have just moved house and have been without an. Internet connection. Hugs Mrs H xxxx
    Mrs H recently posted Vlog Club – My top five beauty productsMy Profile

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