The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown are stressful for everyone.
Add kids being at home all the time and many parents having to work remotely, and it’s no wonder if parents’ coping skills are being tested.
You’re justified if you feel that keeping the house tidy is a low priority. However, a neat, organised home can actually help keep everyone reasonably sane and productive.
Tips for keeping the house clean and tidy during the lockdown
These simple strategies will help you keep on top of housework with a house full of kids, for as long as schools are closed.
1. Relax your standards a bit
It’s easy to underestimate how stressful our current situation is.
No one expects the house to be sparkling clean right now. Trying to maintain a high standard during these unusual circumstances could exacerbate stress. Let go a little!
2. Get an early start
Don’t get up crazy early. You need a good night’s rest to deal with the current situation.
However, do try to get a head start on the kids. Even half an hour will give you a little more time to prepare breakfast or tackle last night’s dishes.
3. Incentivise chores
Get everyone, kids included, to pitch in.
Even young children can be helpful if you succeed in making clean-up activities fun. Give them a task that makes them feel responsible and grown up. (Don’t micromanage). You might be surprised how carefully they handle it.
For older kids, you might consider giving incentives. For example, agree on a point system for chores. Points could be traded for treats or certain privileges, like air time for phones or time watching movies.
4. Be a little stricter with play areas
For the duration of the lockdown, limit play areas to certain areas of the house, ideally bedrooms only. This will minimise clutter and make the house feel less untidy. You don’t want to be tripping over toys when you’re trying to get on top of the laundry.
5. Establish a new routine
You may have to establish a slightly different routine during lockdown to accommodate having more people in the house.
Having a routine will make chores go faster and help you keep track of what has and hasn’t been done. Get everyone involved (where possible) and make everyone aware of the new routine (to minimise squabbles).
6. Have a pack away toys and games rule
Make a rule that says they have to pack away the toy or game they were playing with before they can get out another. Otherwise, you’ll have piles of half-finished games lying around.
This is a good rule to have in place anyway, but particularly when the kids are at home a lot.
7. Have more braais
If you’re lucky enough to have a bit of garden, braaiing is the way to go.
It’s often quicker than cooking a meal, and you can use paper plates to minimise dishes. And kids usually enjoy a braai too. Getting outdoors relieves stress.
8. Cook simple family favourites
Skip the elaborate meals for a while. They use up a lot of groceries and make a lot of dishes.
Stick to simple, one-pot meals that you know the kids will like. You don’t need to be dealing with picky eaters right now.
9. Have a no shoes policy
People should seldom be leaving the house. Nonetheless, a no shoes in the house rule can help minimise the amount of mess that gets tracked in-doors. It’s also recommended as a way to help prevent the spread of the virus.