Learning to walk is a huge development in a young child’s life, and there are few things more exhilarating and emotional for parents than watching their child take their first few steps. And as your toddler starts gaining confidence and co-ordination, they’ll start exploring the world around them with an ever more fervent enthusiasm.
That’s when things can eventually start to get… stressful.
In fact, even if you’re an experienced parent, it can be very easy to underestimate the single-minded determination of your toddler, not to mention their sheer speed! This stage of newfound curiosity and avid exploration means that certain messes are all but inevitable. Thankfully though, you can save yourself a lot of time and energy with these simple tips…
Make a no-shoes rule
I know that some families find this sort of rule easier to instigate than others, but trust me – it’s well worth it! Muddy shoes, boots and Wellingtons in particular are the worst culprits for tracking mud, dirt and all sorts of other undesirable substances into your house, so it can save you a lot of headaches if you can get your toddler out of that habit as early as possible.
Once they know to leave their shoes by the door when they come in, you might not find yourself having to scrub those carpets quite as frequently as you otherwise might have done. Just like with any household rule though, it might not always have a 100% success rate, so don’t stop being prepared for the worst!
Reconsider cloths or table runners
You know the tablecloth trick? Where you whip a tablecloth away from a table so quickly that the laws of inertia keep all plates and cutlery and ornaments exactly where they are? Yeah, toddlers are terrible at that trick. But they do have a tendency to grasp and pull on anything that’s within their reach, to see if they can get it down to their level for further investigation (i.e. chewing on it).
So to minimise the chances of destruction, or the very real possibility of injury, it’s a good idea to go round the house and make sure there’s nothing hanging temptingly off the end of a table or solid surface, where tiny over-eager hands might bring it crashing down.
Get yourself some spill-proof cups
A very simple and very cheap purchase that saves you countless hours and probably a fair bit of money as well. Liquids like drinks and juices are easily amongst some of the biggest threats to your home’s general cleanliness. Happily, you can get out ahead of the problem by giving your child a spill-proof cup to drink from. They can be dropped from a surprisingly big height without popping open, which makes them perfect for protecting your softer furnishings. (But of course, try and resist the temptation to test their limits!)
Think about investing in a fitted sofa cover
In fact, invest is probably not quite the right word here, as sofa covers share a lot of similarities with spill-proof cups – namely in that they’re both cheap and simple purchases that can do wonders for protecting your home from messes.
As the centrepiece of your living room, your sofa often ends up taking a lot of the brunt of daily life, and that includes messes too. That’s where sofa covers can come in handy. A sofa cover is exactly what it sounds like – a washable bit of fabric that fits perfectly over your sofa, making it almost indistinguishable from a non-covered one. Crucially, these fabrics are machine washable, if the worst should happen, you can simply remove it and throw it straight in the wash.
No more baking powder and vinegar, no more elbow grease and no more frantic scrubbing at your sofa at 8:30am on a Wednesday morning. All it takes is a quick wash, and that’s the problem solved.
These are just a few of my personal suggestions. You might already be brimming with your own ideas! Whatever the case (and I know this is easier said than done), try not to let it stress you out too much. When you have a young toddler charging about, trying to keep your home permanently spotless might be somewhat of a losing battle – that’s why you might find that just like lots of new parents, your standards of acceptable cleanliness get somewhat redefined!