in Family Life, Home Making

The Unexpected Blessing of Cleaning with a Toddler


I hate cleaning.

Don’t get me wrong: I love clean.

I grew up with a mother that knew how to clean thoroughly, spot the cobwebs that were invisible to the naked eye and throw open the windows to top it off with a fresh breeze. Coming home after a Mum Clean was refreshing and completely taken for granted.

But I am wired differently; I fight against my cluttery personality every day, as well as the part of me that says, “I’ll definitely do that later.”

I love having a clean house, but its like pulling teeth to want to clean it myself. My husband and I had also acquired a large amount of items in our lifetime, some purposeful and functional (like his drum kit and my sewing machine), along with some completely useless or purely sentimental items (like my birthday card collection I haven’t culled since I was born, or his box full of youth camp merchandise which consists of approximately 20 full winter hoodies that are more souvenir than actually wearable).

In our previously tiny house, it was a hilarious nightmare that we didn’t know how to get under control. So we didn’t. And that made it quite difficult to do a regular, quick weekly clean.

But, thanks to mum, I always have the desire to create that same fresh atmosphere for my own family.

And in the process of having a baby and rebuilding our house, we have had the rare chance for a completely fresh start; to cull everything from storage that we truly didn’t need, set new cleaning mindsets in place and stick by them.

We don’t like being cluttered or untidy; it’s not who we are and we want our children to learn good habits for them to instill in their own lives!

So once I cleared the hill of “mum guilt” that made me feel bad for not spending 100% of my eating, waking and breathing time staring at my son in his flippin’ beautiful eyes, I knew I had to get a routine set into place – for my sake and for our family’s sake.

But how on earth do I set all of these idealistic routines into motion with an extra 10kg of baby to lug around?

So, off we went. It started with me putting my 10-month old son in his highchair and dragging him around in it while I vacuumed. He was immediately unimpressed, because he doesn’t love being trapped or eating food.

Scrap that.

I tried entertaining him in the activity gym and racing around like a madman, but he always got bored of being in one place before I finished.

I also tried doing it while he napped. Then I laughed and laughed, never to try that again, as I am not going to spend my only day rest time cleaning the house. Yeah, no thanks.

Then, one day, out of sheer hope, I just turned on the vacuum cleaner and started vacuuming.

And, weirdly enough, it worked.

He was fascinated by this loud, whirring machine and started following me around while I worked.

The Unexpected Blessing Of Cleaning With A Toddler | Parenting | Motherhood | SAHM life | House keeping

Luke Brugger

Oh, it was super impractical. He played with the machine, threw around the power cord, tried to yell louder than the noise the it was making, crawled away, came back. I chatted to him, I let him press buttons, he switched off the vacuum at the wall, I switched it back on, off, on, off, on. It took freakin’ ages.

What I discovered from my four-hour vacuum (joking) is that if I thought that vacuuming is the most tedious chore on the planet, my son didn’t.

He didn’t care what we did, he just enjoyed playing alongside me and his new, noisy friend.

Be encouraged to banish the mindset that says some things are too hard with little kids because we can’t make it work the way we did pre-kids. (Baths and toilet trips excluded.) It may not work for you like it did for me, or even just the way you want it to, but we have to give it a burl – and sometimes we have to think outside the box.

A clean house is a high value for me, for both sanity and cleanliness. And because my son eats things off the floor now. Ugh.

But now vacuuming is actually something we do together every week! He enjoys it equally as much every time he hears the vacuum cleaner switch on, and I get to spend time with him AND develop healthy cleaning habits.

It’s wonderful to incorporate your little one into whatever you’re doing where possible.

Cleaning, cooking, reading, gardening… They learn new skills, get to feel a part of a team while learning to understand that the world doesn’t revolve around them (even if my heart does). Involving them also increases the time you get to spend together!

Now, does anyone know what age it’s appropriate to train a child how to mop while I take a nap?


Feeling overwhelmed by your home and not sure where to start? Klara (fellow writer here) has been there, girl! She shared these tips on our sister site, Her Happy Heart:

The power of a small change in the midst of chaos

Tips for keeping a clean(er) house

What I learnt about decluttering when I ditched 186 items from my kitchen

You might also like:

Redemption & Shalom

Mothering & Hindsight – Encouragement For Every Mum

Persistence & Joy – Lessons from a Toddler at Play

Katherine Louise

Kat lives in Perth, Western Australia and is pretty happy with her dandy life of 30 years. She is married to Andrew, who is a freelance graphic designer, all-around cool guy and now dad to their ridiculously adorable little boy.
Kat is a manager of a cafe, with a background that looks like a bag of assorted mixed lollies – administration, finance, selling yoghurt, image consulting, making coffee, and account managing. She loves Jesus, reading, drinking a decent cup of coffee, writing and cooking.

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