Mother and Baby

10 ways to speed clean the house after a play date

Section: Toddler

Having your toddler’s friends round may mean your house ends up looking like a hurricane has hit, but a few simple steps will make cleaning up afterwards feel like child’s play.

We've all been there with every toy emptied from their boxes, paint splatters on the walls and floors. It can be overwhelming to look at and you probably don't even know where to start, so we've got 10 tips on how to speed clean your house after your toddlers play date! 

Speed cleaning your house after a play date: 

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1) Use simple storage

Make the toy tidy-up simpler by having large baskets or containers that you can quickly chuck things into. Boxes with lids and wheels are useful as they can be pushed into the corner so they’re out of the way.
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2) Get your toddler involved

Many hands make light work so encourage your little one and her friends to put things away after they’ve finished playing with them. If it’s left until the end of the day, turn it into a game or race to tidy up as quickly as possible. And think about the language you use – research from the Journal of Child Development found that if you ask if your child wants to be ‘a helper’ rather asking her ‘to help’ it will make her more likely to take action.
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3) Restrict play to one room at a time

Rather than letting the children run riot throughout the house, try to keep them in one room for one activity, such as playing with toys, and then move them into the kitchen for painting or crafts. That way you can have a mini tidy-up between each session.
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4) Lay out sheets

If you’re doing something messy, a sheet spread out on the floor can mean crumbs, plasticine or paints don’t get ground into the carpet and saves you a vacuuming job at the end of the day. You can then gather up the whole sheet and put it straight in the washing machine.
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5) Stack if you can't wash up

If your play date has included lunch, tea or a cooking activity and the kitchen is now covered in plates, bowls and cutlery, stack items into neat piles and put dirty pans into the sink so they’re out of sight. That way, you’ll have clear reasonably clear surfaces that will make it feel tidier.
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6) Turn up the radio

Or put on music that will help to raise energy. Dutch researchers have discovered that music is linked directly to your motivation levels, so putting on something uplifting will help you tackle tidying jobs with plenty of energy. 
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7) Use reward charts

Your toddler will love getting stickers or a stars on a reward chart for helping you to tidy up. You’ll be amazed what the promise of a Queen Elsa sticker will do for motivation.
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8) Set a target for tidying

If you’ve got a little band of helpers, set up a spot in the room where you want them to put everything. It’s much easier to pick up or clean away items from one area of the room than if you have to keep rushing all over the place (and you’re less likely to trip over small people).
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9) Work from the bottom up

If your house looks like a bombsite, start by clearing the floor and working your way up. So next, tidy the sofa or coffee table, then the tables and surfaces and leave shelves and walls (including those stray crayon scrawls) until the end and if you still have time. That way, you’ll at least have somewhere to walk through and somewhere to sit down after a play date, even if the remaining tidying up has to wait a bit longer.
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10) Do a speed clean

If a job takes less than one minute – for example wiping a table down – do it, because it won’t take much attention or time away from your child, but it will help you keep on top of cleaning and tidying jobs through the day and mean you won’t have so much to do at the end of the day.

How do you clean up after a play date? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

  • Author: Samantha Ball Samantha Ball
  • Job Title: Freelance writer

Samantha is a mum of one, in a house full of boys. Her hobbies are long hikes, coffee tasting, and being a bit of an *obsessive* cleaner.

She also runs a blog Student Mum Diaries about what it’s like to be a student mum. 


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