Keeping up with the housework with a new baby is a challenge for many parents. Either you spend time with your baby as your house becomes a disaster, or you feel guilty for spending time cleaning when you should be spending time with your baby.
What’s a new parent to do?
After brining my son home from the hospital, I knew that I was in for a BIG learning curve. Not only in the way of caring for a newborn, but I was also going to have to learn how to keep the house clean with a baby.
If you’re stuck wondering, “How do you get housework done with a baby?”, keep reading to learn the best ways to keep your house clean with a new baby.
(But first, cut yourself some slack. Nobody is expecting you to keep your house PERFECT right after having a baby. Give yourself a couple of weeks to relax and focus on postpartum healing, then when you feel ready, come back here and learn how to do housework with a newborn.)
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Some babies will be better sleepers than others, and if your baby is a good sleeper then keeping the house clean shouldn’t be too much of a hassle, simply put your baby down for a nap and get to work like usual.
BUT, if your baby isn’t a good sleeper, or your baby wants to be held all.the.time (like mine did, which made me think I was “spoiling our baby” until I learned about the fourth trimester and that it was okay to hold him all the time during those first few months.), or your baby falls asleep and then wakes up as soon as you put it down, then you’re going to have to re-think how you go about cleaning and learn new strategies.
Some days it will feel like you did nothing but soothe a cranky baby all day, but remember – the baby stage is as quick to come as it is to go, and when you think back to this stage in life, you don’t want to remember yourself being constantly stressed out because your house isn’t clean.
You want to be able to look back and remember all the baby snuggles, the little giggles, and the new stages, so cut yourself some slack and tell yourself that it is OKAY if your house doesn’t look perfect. But, there are some small things you can do to be able to keep your house clean enough during this busy, new stage of life, and we’ll get into exactly what they are, below.
When bringing my son home from the hospital I had the same question that nearly every mom has… “How do you keep your house clean with a baby?” Here’s what I found to be the best answers to that question:
How to keep the house clean with a baby – 12 foolproof steps
Use a baby carrier (but not just any baby carrier)
If you have a baby who wants to be held all the time, there are some things that you just won’t be able to get done. There are some small tasks that you will be able to get done with one hand while holding your baby, but other things, like vacuuming, folding laundry, and cleaning bathrooms, are easier to do with two hands.
This is where a baby carrier will become a lifesaver for you.
You can strap your baby right into the carrier so they are snug, secure, and close to your body, AND you still have two free hands to work with.
When I tried to use a baby carrier with my son, he hated every second of it, so I assumed that I just wasn’t going to be able to have him in a carrier.
But, it wasn’t until I tried a couple different brands and styles of baby carriers that I was finally able to find one that he loved and could sit in for hours. When I finally found a baby carrier that worked for my son, I was able to get so much more stuff done around our house, all without feeling guilty or like I wasn’t spending enough time with him. (No one warns new moms how real mom guilt is.)
So, if you haven’t been able to find a baby carrier that your baby likes, you will want to try a couple different brands and styles. If your baby doesn’t like the carrier you’re using, don’t just give up and assume your baby hates all carriers. Some babies prefer wrap-style carriers, while others prefer the bulkier carriers.
My son particularly loves this carrier, and now that he’s older I can carry him in it facing away from him so he can see the world, and when he’s even older I can carry him backpack style in it, too.
Take your baby outdoors
This might not work for every baby, but it will work for some. Many moms find that when they take their baby outside at some point during the day to get fresh air, their baby sleeps better at night.
The same is true for my son at naptime, too.
If your baby doesn’t nap well, try taking them for half an hour walk around town then come home and do your naptime routine, then put them to bed. (Doing the naptime routine is important or else they may be too wound up from being outside to go to sleep.)
Take advantage of the deeper sleep your baby will (hopefully) have after being outdoors and get some cleaning done around the house while they’re napping.
For the first few months of my son’s life, he HATED being in his stroller… but he loved being in his car seat. So, we got one of these so that I could still push him around in his stroller, but he was actually happy about it. (And thanks to this I didn’t have to lug around a heavy car seat.)
Follow a schedule
Babies love schedules, they love predictability, and they love knowing what comes next.
That’s why using a schedule is such an effective way of parenting, and it allows you to have more time to yourself.
A schedule allows you to put your baby down for naptime at the exact same time every day, for a consistent nap which helps eliminate your baby from becoming overtired, since overtired babies don’t sleep well.
When you start following a schedule with your baby you’ll be able to know exactly when your baby will go down for their naps and how long each nap will be, which frees up some time for you which you can then use to clean around the house.
We started following a strict schedule with our son when he was 3 months old, and I wish we would have started sooner. He sleeps better and longer at naptime AND at night since we’ve started the schedule, and he’s a happier baby when he’s awake. (We put him in a different room than where we are for naps during the day, but we didn’t start doing that until we got one of these to keep an eye on him.)
Set up a play center for your baby
Depending on the age of your baby, but I found when our son reached the 3-month mark, everything got easier (whether that was because he was a bit older, or because that is when we started following a schedule with him, I don’t know), and he was easier to distract. Which meant I could get a couple of minutes to speed-clean our house.
If your baby is at the age where they enjoy looking at toys, lay them on a mat and place mirrors, pictures, and other baby toys on various places on the mat so they can look at them if they’re on their stomach, then place a selection of hanging toys above them (like a baby gym) so they can look at those when they’re on their back.
Giving them a variety of toys to look at should tie them over for long enough to allow you to get at least a little bit of cleaning done.
Put baby in a bouncy chair
Sometimes all your baby wants is to be near you, and if you can’t get the work done while holding your baby, using a bouncy chair is the next-best thing.
While putting your baby in one of these swings works too, I don’t find it to be quite as effective since it’s bulkier and I can’t really put it wherever I’m working. The swing lives in our living room and doesn’t move from its place, whereas the bouncy chair we use can be easily picked up and moved around, so I can place my son in his chair in the kitchen while I’m doing dishes, in the bedroom while I’m putting laundry away, and in the bathroom while I’m cleaning.
Sometimes all he wants is to be near me and hear my voice, and since I can bring his bouncy chair wherever I go, I can talk to him while I clean up and that alone keeps him occupied for at least 10 minutes. (It’s not much, but we take what we can get!)
Create a cleaning task sheet
If you rely on your memory for your cleaning tasks, you’ll find yourself running here, there, and everywhere trying to get stuff done but never really getting anywhere.
(And you’re especially bound to forget a few things or double-clean some stuff with new mom brain happening.)
Using a cleaning task sheet allows you to bulk certain tasks together. For example, you could clean bathrooms on Mondays, vacuum on Wednesdays, do laundry on Fridays, and so on. This way you know what tasks need to be done on certain days and you aren’t left scratching your head trying to think of what you’ve already done this week and what still needs to be done.
I tried many different cleaning schedules, and it wasn’t until I created a personalized one that I was able to actually stick to it.
Involve your kids
If you have toddlers and older kids, involve them in the cleaning process with chore charts. Give them each a special task to complete while you work on your cleaning tasks.
Even if you know you’re going to have to later again clean the thing that your toddler is cleaning, giving them the job of cleaning something will keep them occupied and busy for a few minutes so that you have the chance to get some cleaning done yourself.
Kids thrive off of responsibility and often love to be in charge of something all on their own, and that’s why giving them something to do all on their own works so well because they are in charge of this particular thing and you can bet they will take pride in the work they are doing.
Using chore charts is a great way to keep each of your kids responsible for their own tasks.
Keep a cleaning caddy in each room
Put simple cleaning supplies in your cleaning caddies and keep them in each appropriate room in your house.
In the kitchen, living room, and each bathroom you should have a small cleaning caddy with an all-purpose cleaner, a couple of microfiber cloths, a small handful of Bountys, disinfecting wipes, and any other cleaners you need for each particular room.
Having your cleaning supplies on-hand will save you a lot of time, and this way if you’re able to put your baby down for even just two minutes, you can grab your caddy and start doing a bit of cleaning, rather than running around the house gathering the cleaning supplies you need, then by the time you get everything together your baby is crying again.
Put your baby in an exersaucer in front of a mirror
If you have any full-length mirrors in your house, plopping your baby in an activity exersaucer (or a vibrating chair if they’re not old enough for an exersaucer) in front of a mirror is a great way to allow them to entertain themselves for a while.
(Don’t have a full-length mirror in your house? You can grab one here for cheap.)
Learn when your baby is the most content
All babies have fussier times and times when they’re more content during the day, and if you pay close attention to it, you should be able to find a bit of a routine that your baby goes through.
Learn what time of the day your baby is the most content (for some babies that’s right after they’ve eaten, for others, it’s mid-afternoon, while for others yet it’s something different altogether) and try to get some cleaning done then.
If your baby is already being fussy and then you set them down so you can clean, chances are you won’t get long before they’re screaming. If they are pretty happy and you set them down, they should be able to stay content for at least a few minutes, which will allow you a couple of minutes to clean.
Use a high chair
Most babies will be ready to use a high chair once they reach the 4 – 7 month mark, or can sit up on their own.
When they’re at that point, you could place your baby in their high chair and give them some things to keep them occupied for a while. This could be plastic cups/dishes, measuring cups, wooden or plastic spoons, or their toys.
If you haven’t got a high chair yet, this is the one that most moms recommend using for young babies.
Take any amount of time you get while your baby is content without being held – even if it’s just two minutes – and speed clean different areas of your house.
At this stage in your life, having a perfectly cleaned house isn’t a realistic idea… and no one is going to expect your house to be that clean.
So instead of trying to get your house looking perfect, just focus on getting it clean enough. Pick up the toys, sweep or vacuum up the crumbs (here are a few recommendations of cheap vacuums that work well), and wipe the countertops. (And keep a package of paper towels close by to clean up quick spills.)
Most of all, mama, give yourself a break.
No one is expecting your house to be perfect when you have kids, so don’t put that burden on yourself.
Relax, be okay with a house that is less-than-perfect, and spend time cuddling with your squishy baby, because before you know it the months and years will pass by and this stage in your life will be a mere memory, and you can bet you won’t remember how clean or dirty your house was… you’ll remember the moments you spent with your family.
Now it’s your turn! Are you a new mom with some cleaning tips and tricks hiding up your sleeve? Feel free to share them below.
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