First off, I'm asking for some advice. Please read the following and then give me your ideas.
With small kids, it seems like the cleaning in my home is endless. 98% of my house is carpeted (everywhere except the bathroom, including the kitchen). I have to vacuum at least 3 times weekly to keep the house looking decent; not even presentable. Every day I pick up toys, garbage, and laundry; except Thursday, which tends to be the day when I just can't take the constant hassle of cleaning, and it isn't yet the weekend when I can get out of the house/have my hubby's help to get the house back in shape.
My man and I have come up with a few things we do to help keep the house in a semi-orderly state, but I could really use a few more ideas.
Here are my successes:
1) There has to be some major compromising. I want my kids to have a creative, happy, open atmosphere to grow up in. I don't want their imaginations to feel restrained by anything--not super-strict cleanliness, but not awful messes either. I think either extreme is distracting for children. I aim for somewhere in the middle.
2) We keep all the toys under child lock. May sound a little extreme, but see the next few points.
3) In the morning, we let the kids pick 3 toys for the day to play with. If partway through the day they want to switch, that is totally fine. They put away the toys they're done with, and then take out new ones.
4) Right before dinner, the toys go to bed. They are put away for the night. Then the kids wash up for dinner, and we have our evening time together as a family, for playing games and reading books and maybe watching a movie.
Here are my struggles:
1) The kids LOVE the kitchen. They get out all my cooking utensils and take them all over the house. I have no clue where my biscuit cutter is at this moment because the kids played with it months ago. And considering the very central location of the kitchen in my house, and the metal cabinets that can't have child locks screwed into them, I'm not sure how to keep them out of there; yet I can't let them just have free reign, because some of the utensils are breakable, dangerous...or at best, will have to be cleaned after every play session.
2) I have a hard time motivating the kids to pick up after themselves. I have a 3 1/2 year old who I think is old enough to learn how to clean up, yet I'm not sure the way to go about it. Do I reward/bribe? Do I punish for disobedience? How much of the mess should I clean up as he's puttzing around putting away 1 or 2 toys? And how long can I wait before just finishing the job myself?
3) Lastly, I don't like picking up the same messes every single day, two or three times a day. Once a week? no problem. Twice a week? doable. Twelve times a week? kill me now! Any ideas on how to make it from day to day without pulling my hair out?