I spent a lot of time in just that muddle when my kids were young, and still go in stages of less and more organized, with all the kids flown! When my grandkids visit, they are good about putting away what they got out, as they know I expect it! And if they mention it's messy, I ask what they want to help clean up, lol!
A gal in one of my FB groups recently asked for tips, as her husband will be working a second job, they've got a 2 year old, and the house is already messy, meals are haphazard....
Two is a great age to begin to engage a child's help, and instill the idea that everyone who shares the house pitches in! When they help out, try not to correct or criticize, do show gratitude, and admire their work!
- Go with simple one dish meals, crock pot, stir fry, and have big salads made up.
- Choose from your family favorites, and add more as you think of/try them
- Wash and cut veggies and some fruit, store in lidded containers with compartments, for easy, nutritious snacks.
- Look for crackers etc with limited ingredients, and shop the outside isles
- If you've got a farmer's market, have them help choose new veggies to try, and old favorites.
- Aim for at least one 20/10 each day (clean 20, rest or share time with your kid for 10) and do another round when you can. Tackle the things that bother you most first.
- Find an hourglass children's timer, so s/he can set their own.
- Get the child/ren interested in helping, two is a GREAT age to begin! Carry a dish to the dishwasher, help put silverware away, wipe a table, ...(don't correct things in front of them! It's getting done!)
- Partly fill a spray bottle with water and a squirt of dish soap or Dr Bonner's, and invite them to spritz the stove or fridge for you ("three sprays!") My 6 year old grandson LOVES using the spray bottle!
- Make a game of picking up before lunch or outside time. Sing a pick up song, and chip in. Make it fun, and something you do daily.
- Get outside when you can! Walks, a trip to the swimming pool or a park. Holistic docs suggest kids play outside a minimum of 45 minutes a day when they can.
- Have a small basket or bin for favorite books, and read! Have the child choose one, and you choose one. Go ahead and read it again! Limit screen time, for them and for you!
- My grandkids are 6-18, and I've watched 4 regularly from infancy up. I "use my psychic powers" to predict the chore they will do, the vegetable they'll pick, whether they'll put their shoes by the door or in the hall, ....
- Hide toys around the room, and see who can find/ put then in the right basket first
- Have a trash can handy, and invite them to find 3-5 things to throw away.
- Streamline! Get a shelf unit and containers, from simple with colorful Dollar Store baskets, to an Ikea set! Colors engage kids in picking up, and help code what belongs where. During a break, check out pinterest for ideas that suit your family
- Rotate toys! Have an area (garage?) you can store categories of toys they've lost interest in, and bring it out again in a few months. When you notice toys everywhere, go through (probably on your own) and stash some away. This is good to do around holidays. (* their special toys excluded!)
- Have their clothes in low drawers, tops in one, pants/ etc on a second that are labeled with a photo, for easy put away. (One friend's son dumped drawers out when he was a toddler, so they needed to have his drawers in another room! And be sure they are stable and won't tip)
- My 6 and 12 year olds attended an awesome co-op
- Each choose the area they would clean by putting their photo in a chore chart, and they often cleaned an area they weren't in that morning! (Bonus, try learn "I can clean even when I didn't mess it up!!")
- Each section of the room was roughly dedicated to something, a playhouses, block area, dress up, touch table, pixels, blocks, art, snack table (with low shelves and dishes to serve themselves) ...is there a way you can do more of this at home?
- Playgroup! If you're a SAH mom or dad, find ways to engage with other kids and adults! A playgroup, where kids play and parents observe/visit is awesome. My daughter and her friends met in a childbirth class, 18 years ago, and had a picnic after the babies were born. It has evolved into a playgroup, then as the kids grew into a Moms Group, with monthly adult get togethers, a summer beach trip, a couple's get away, and several family trips to Disneyland!
- to find one, check Bulletin boards, the library, swimming or gymnastic class, local FB groups, homeschool groups, look for the right for for your family!
You're able to be home with your kids, appreciate the opportunity! That was the norm when I was growing up on the 50/60s, and now I realize how lucky I was!
I hope you can use these ideas to spark your own, and please share your own tips in the comments!