How to keep your home tidy with pets AND kids

How to keep your home tidy with pets AND kids

Busy family life might mean your home isn’t always as tidy as you’d like. Before you had kids, you probably kept a home that was in ship shape and maybe miss the days you could have visitors over at the drop of a hat! When there’s a million and one other jobs always need doing (and kids can be so messy) it can mean you can’t always maintain perfection. However you’ll be pleased to know that if you’re house proud and want to keep your home looking nice for when guests come over, there are ways to go about it- even when you have a mad house of children and pets.

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Designate Age Appropriate Chores

Designating chores for children depending on their age and ability not only helps you to maintain a tidy home, but teaches them responsibility too. You could get school aged children to hang up their coats and bags on a hook, and put their shoes in a cupboard when they come home from school. Fix hooks in your coat cupboard that they can comfortably reach and let them know that this where they put their belongings each day. Teach them to put clothes in the washing pile, and for children that are mature enough you could even give them the job of feeding a pet. Small children can be encouraged to help you pick up toys and put them away when they’re done playing with them. Get them into good habits and routines, while gentle encouragement and reminding is likely to be needed it will become second nature eventually.

Invest in Toy Storage That Matches Your Decor

If you don’t want your front room to look like a toy shop, your best bet is to invest in storage that looks like it’s part of the room. For example cube storage with fabric baskets, a storage ottoman or a storage footstool are all perfect ways to stash toys out of sight. If you designate a set number of toys which are allowed in the living room (you could rotate them now and again to keep it interesting) they can be easily put away after each use without spoiling the look of your room. That way if you receive the dreaded ‘I’m popping over in ten minutes!’ text from a friend or family member, you can quickly and easily get your living space in order.

Upgrade Your Home

Certain materials are far easier to clean than others. So replacing material sofas with leather will allow you to easily wipe down any spills or marks. Switching up carpet to wood or tile can make it easier to keep clean and if pets get fleas it can prevent infestations too. Companies like Pet-Lock sell products to keep fleas at bay, but if they are picked up and brought into your home the numbers can quickly get out of control. Carpet gives eggs and live fleas a place to hide whereas hard surfaces don’t. It also makes cleaning up mess from kids and muddy paws much easier too.

Keep Messy Activities For The Weekends

Things like baking and crafts are always fun to do with kids. But the aftermath of them can mean an awful lot of mess! Keep weekday activities to things that can easily be cleaned and tidied away, and leave the glitter, glue, baking materials or making mud pies in the garden for a Saturday or Sunday. That way you have the time to get it cleared up, and it’s not a mad rush getting everything back in order on a day that you’re already pressed for time.

How do you keep a tidy home when you have children?

Guest Interview with Amanda Thomas

I’m healed! Thank God and Baby Jesus, I am healed! Just in case you didn’t know, about 2 weeks ago I woke up and felt like I had been on the losing end of a bar brawl. Yeah, it was that bad. I could no longer use my car in reverse because looking over my shoulder was a thing of the past. Makes it difficult to leave the house…or do just about anything else, for that matter.

Two weeks and two chiropractor later and I could drive all over town BACKWARDS, if I wanted. Did you hear what I said, err wrote, whatever you know what I mean….I CAN LOOK OVER MY SHOULDER!

I owe my life and the life of my neck to Dr. Kyle Collins from the Upper Cervical Heath Centers of Scottsdale. And I will admit that after extensive x-rays and some amazing scanning machine, I cried. Well it could be from the shooting pain in my neck when I got the adjustment and the fact that I couldn’t see in that moment of white-hot pain but when I finally came to…I could actually lift my hands over my head again! I might even be able to do my hair again (everyone that has to look at me is thankful of this too).

Anyway, long story short, I am healed, it was painful, I cried like an idiot but it worked and I owe it all to Dr. Collins who I am eternally thankful to. Other thankful people include my husband, my daughter and various drivers in and around the Gilbert Arizona area.

Now on to our main story…

Today we have an interview with Amanda Thomas, owner of Moxie Girl Household Assistants and Domestic CEO on When it comes to cleaning and organizing, she the man and today we have her all to ourselves and I got to ask her anything my disorganized and dirty little heart desired.

Since we are basking in the glow of spring I thought it appropriate we discuss spring cleaning. I also threw in a few questions of my own. Because it’s my blog and I can.


The Better Half: Hi Amanda! Thank you for joining us, don’t mind the mess, I live here. So let’s get the ball rolling and jump right in. It’s spring cleaning season! Woohoo! What’s the best way to get the ball rolling and what absolutely needs to be on our to-do list?

Amanda Thomas: The best way I have found to get the ball rolling is to kick everyone out of the house, turn off the tv, play some fun music, and commit to 30 minutes of hard work before I let myself sit down. Often times, once I get going, I end up doing way more than 30 minutes, but that initial goal is small enough to get me started. Whatever you do, do NOT turn on the tv. Even if you think it is just on in the background, you will lose precious time. Every minute you stop to hear Maury say, “You are NOT the father,” takes 2 minutes away from your productivity. You have to refocus, and restart wherever you left off. Don’t even tempt yourself, just put on your favorite “kicking-but and taking names” songs and get to work!

The tasks that I see most forgotten in homes are the ceiling fans, inside the fridge, and behind appliances. If you can’t remember the last time you dusted your fans, or you can see dust hanging over the edge, that WILL affect your indoor air quality. Clean those at least once a quarter to keep your air cleaner. Inside the fridge is the job everyone knows needs to be done, but no one wants to. Take a little time and clean up the spills and hardened pieces of veggies from there. It’s well worth it, just so you don’t have to feel guilty every time you open the door. If you have cats, ferrets, or any other small, roaming animal in your home, there is an 60% chance you have feces behind your fridge. If you cook, you have a 90% chance of having food spills and remnants between your stove and the cabinets. These aren’t scientific, but they are true to my experience of working in homes. At least once a year, pull those appliances out and clean around them. Don’t be scared. Put on your big girl panties and do it. You’ll thank me for it later.

BH: OKay I’m liking the kick everyone out of the house part. Do I have to let them back in when it’s clean, haha. Kidding. (Kind of.) So I often hear about people tackling one task a week or a day in order to keep from getting overwhelmed. I am a super scheduled type of person, I just need someone to tell me what to do. So tell me…what to do…

AT: You CAN do that, but I don’t recommend it. The chances of you losing steam after the first week are pretty high. I advise getting as much done in as little time as possible. Make a list of the tasks you want to tackle. Then, order them from most to least important. Start with the tasks you rated as most important first. That way, if you do give up (and I’m not saying YOU would), at least your most important things got done. The other stuff is just kind of a bonus!

BH: I love lists, this might work for me. Now I have to make a hard admission, in my house, we have a bad case of the “junk drawer”. It’s so bad that are starting to multiply. I think we are on 3 and a 4th seem eminent. What are some great tips for organizing and taming the junk drawer?

AT: Oh good lord, Nicole. STOP shoving stuff in your drawers! :)  The best way to avoid having a “junk drawer” is naming your drawers. If all your drawers have a purpose (ie- the silverware drawer, the cooking utensil drawer, the sharp stuff drawer, the crayons and coloring book drawer, the batteries and tape drawer, etc), then they can’t become a junk drawer. Why would you put batteries in the crayon drawer? You wouldn’t! No more junk drawers!

BH: I should probably stop calling drawers “Misc. drawer” then too. That might be my problem. And “sharp stuff drawer”? Good grief, might as well call it “stuff that will get me a visit from CPS drawer”. So now this question is purely selfish in nature but since I have you here I’m going to ask you. (And I’m guessing since I have this problem, I can’t be the ONLY one.) Please, for the love of Baby Jesus, what can I use to clean the stand up shower in my bathroom? The cleaning lady made it look brand new and I can’t get it to look anything other than semi-gross. What am I doing wrong?

AT: Elbow grease. Just kidding, sort of. A great natural product I like is Tub and Tile by Melaleuca. If you are looking for something you can buy at Target, the best thing I’ve found is Ka-BOOM Foamtastic. Use either of those with a scrubby sponge, grout brush, and a little elbow grease, and your shower can look new again. Just make sure to have your bathroom fan running and DON’T close yourself into the shower if you are using chemicals. Unless you like to get high and pass out. If the soap scum is thick on the walls, you may need to use a plastic scraper to chisel the hardened build-up off too. It’s not the best of news, sorry!

BH: Hmm, sounds like it’s easier to call you guys as Moxie Girl because that sounds like a lot of steps. Well, last but not least lets talk floors. Swiffer? Steamer? Bucket and mop? What’s the best way to clean floors when you have toddler, kids, dogs and dirty husbands to contend with? (Both wood and tile.)

AT: In all my (and my Moxie Girl team’s) experience, I have yet to find a floor steamer that isn’t a pain in the butt. In theory, they are wonderful. In practice, something always goes wrong. Either it takes 20 minutes for the steam to appear, it only steams for 15 seconds, or it just pushes dust around. I recommend a string mop and bucket to clients who are convinced they need a mop. Otherwise, I prefer using a microfiber floor pad with a spray bottle of cleaner. Just spray the spots, and wipe up. It’s the same principle as a Swiffer, but works a million times better and costs a hundred times less over the life time of the tool.

BH: Is there anything else you think we should know?

AT: My biggest advice is to not wait until something is gross to clean it. As soon as you see something starting to get dirty, clean it. It’s much easier, less time-consuming, and you never have to feel guilty about the nastiness if you just wipe up the little stuff when you see it.  :)

There you have it and if you have any questions that I didn’t ask, feel free to contact Amanda Thomas yourself! She’s super nice and as you can see, there’s no such thing as a stupid cleaning question. Amanda can be reached on Twitter, on Moxie Girl’s Facebook page,  at  and read all of her best cleaning and organizing tips at

Thank you Amanda for your time and expertise! You rock!

Was there anything we should have asked? Comment below and I will get you an answer!