Damage Control

Maintain a tidy home despite messy kids.

“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” —Phyllis Diller

Crayon-painted walls, dirty fingerprints and gum on furniture are common hallmarks of a house with active tots. What markings visitors find cute are nightmares for parents responsible for keeping tidy homes. Parents, take a deep breath. You may not prevent kids from spoiling your furniture, but you can likely repair the damage.

  1. Children’s favorite canvas for showing off their artistic skills is usually the walls. To remove crayon from painted walls and wallpaper that you can scrub, spray WD-40 on markings, wiping them off with a clean cloth. Other options include putting baking soda on crayon stains and scrubbing them clean with a wet toothbrush, as well as mixing dishwasher detergent and water and rubbing the solution with a damp sponge.
  2. Remodeling? Paint your walls with oil paint, a surface from which crayon can be easily cleaned. For new art supplies, go with soap-based crayons.
  3. To rid ink stains from the walls, wipe ink marks with bleach.
  4. Consider painting a large area of your children’s bedrooms with chalkboard paint. This gives children a big creative space where they won’t get into trouble when drawing on the walls.
  5. To efface hot tumbler marks from wooden furniture, mix olive oil and salt together and spread the solution over the marks. After an hour, rub the area with a clean cloth.
  6. Realize the wonders of plain old erasers when it comes to cleaning your walls. Erasers eliminate pencil marks as well as dirty finger prints left by soiled palms on walls.
  7. Children love chewing gum. They especially love to stick it on the furniture— the beautiful upholstered sofa in the sitting room. Remove the sticky stuff from sofas or curtains by first hardening the gum with an ice cube and then scraping it off.
  8. Children sometimes take the pretend game of house to the next level by decorating the actual house. Most often, aspiring decorators liven up pieces of furniture with their favorite cartoon stickers. To remove stickers from wooden surfaces, dip a sponge or cotton ball in water and dab it over the stickered area until it is fully wet. The sticker will then easily come off the furniture.
  9. To get sticker marks off of wooden furniture, first apply talcum powder on the surface and then rub the area with a cloth dipped in milk cream.
  10. Trying to potty train your child? Frequent accidents can be tiresome, namely having to clean them up. Yet, urine stains from carpets and upholstery can be removed by sponging the area with salt water followed by a weak solution of ammonia. After the application, rinse well.

Many parents find these tips useful. However, be careful when cleaning with chemicals around children. And, while many stains and odors may not be completely eliminated, be mindful that furniture in a dark shade is easier to clean than light-colored fabrics. Also, avoid carpets by opting for tiled or linoleum floors. These are a cinch to clean and help prevent children’s allergic reactions to dust.

Don’t fret over daily cleaning. Enjoy your children, and remember, furniture can always be replaced. It’s the precious giggles and laughter of your little ones that cannot be substituted.

 

Get the Children Involved

Cleaning a messy house is no longer only a mother’s job. As children are the major contributors to a messy house, parents need not feel guilty involving kids in cleaning up. Here are a few jobs that most 3 to 5 year olds can do around the house to contribute to the cleanup effort.

  • Encourage children to put away toys after they have finished playing. Make it fun for them by playing Beat the Clock or singing “The Cleanup” song.
  • When making children’s beds, ask them to tuck in the corners. As kids grow, teach them to make their beds themselves.
  • Have children help clear or set the table by laying out or clearing the table mats, plates, spoons and glasses.
  • After changing their clothes or before bath time, children can put away their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
  • Children tend to “throw away” candy wrappers by leaving them around the house. Explain that all wrappers go in the trash can.
  • When kids drop water or any other liquid on the floor, give them a clean cloth to wipe away the mess.
  • Kids enjoy dusting. Give them a feather duster and see how much merriment they get out of dusting every corner of the house.
  • Take advantage of the fact that kids also dig spray bottles. Let them use spray bottles to clean the windows or any glass surfaces.
  • If you feel that children may spray water all over the house, give them baby wipes instead of spray bottles.
  • Ask children to help with the laundry by sorting socks or towels. Sorting laundry into colors or sizes entertains as well as educates children.