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By: John Adams, author of and dad of two young daughters
Posted on: Jul 10, 2019

How to Keep Your House Clean During the Summer Holidays

The long, school vacation will soon be upon us. For any home-based parent, this means you get to spend magical, quality time with your kids. I love the long summer break, but you do face a huge battle to keep your house clean and tidy during this time.

School children and young infants are very different on this front. Infants tend to stay in the room you leave them and they are easily entertained. Older kids are harder to entertain and if you turn your back for a moment, you may find they’ve raided mom’s make-up collection and smeared it across their faces (and the carpet, wall, and sink!)

I have had to entertain my children many times over the school holidays, so here are a few tips I have learned for keeping the house clean and tidy during this period.

Enlist some help

During the school holidays, you may need a little help, especially if you have to work at the same time. There’s no shame in sending your kids to a summer camp for a day or two a week so you can get work done or clean the house. I have taken this approach in the past and the kids enjoy it. It’s no bad thing. You get a little break from each other, they get to socialise with friends, and you get to keep on top the housework.

If you don’t have a cleaner and can afford one, this could also be a great idea over the summer break. You can go off and do fun things with the children while the cleaner takes care of the house for you.

Build a den

During school holidays, I get hold of some large cardboard boxes and, together with the children, we build dens in the garden. Children love playing outside in dens. It gets them out of the house and any mess can be kept in the den. Sure, it’ll need clearing up eventually, but it’s easier than clearing up mess inside your house!

You’ll need to replace the den every few days, but that gives you an activity you can do together. You’ll also need to make sure your children don’t leave anything valuable inside it overnight. Nonetheless, it’s a great way of encouraging outside play and it means the inside of your house stays that little bit cleaner for longer.

Eat meals outside

No, you won’t be able to eat every meal outside, but when the weather is good enough, why not have your meals in the garden? Don’t forget, during the holidays you’ll be eating at home a lot more than usual which means more opportunities for spilled drinks or dropped food. Even if you only eat outside once a day, that’s one less opportunity to create mess inside your house.

Encourage independence and give your children chores

Some children like being given chores because it makes them feel independent. My youngest daughter loves hanging out the washing, while my eldest child prefers to wash the car. Doing these jobs makes them feel grown up.

During the summer holidays, children can be encouraged to make a greater contribution to family life by doing more jobs around the house. You should, however, be encouraging and make it fun. Maybe have a competition to see who can pick up the most pieces of rubbish, or pay your children or give them treats for the work they do.

Here’s one further suggestion for people with slightly older children. I have heard of parents changing the WiFi code on a daily basis during the school holidays. The kids don’t get the code until their housework and homework have been completed. It’s not something I have done myself, but I imagine it doesn’t take long for kids to get the message and pull their weight around the home!

Breeze through your summer chores with sponges, scourers and cloths that stay cleaner for longer.
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Toys must get played with, one at a time

We try and apply this rule at home all the time, but during school holidays it is more important because of the length of time you are at home. When children use toys, books, arts and crafts materials etc. they must be put away before the next item is used. It’s very easy to let this slide in a bid to keep your children happy, but it actually just makes more work for everyone in the long run.

Let standards slip (just a bit!)

You know that phrase “seat the big stuff, not the small things”? Well you need to apply this to the summer holidays. You are going to struggle to keep your family home in pristine condition at all times, so let the small things slide. If you don’t iron your clothes but spend that time having fun with your family, who cares? Concentrate on the vital cleaning jobs and don’t worry so much about other chores.

Have a great time

I hope you find these ideas useful. Most importantly, have a great summer break. If you have a slightly messier, untidy home with happier kids, you’ve succeeded! Children grow up quickly and the summer holidays are a magical time. Enjoy each other’s company while you can.