Seven little dumplings can make a lot of messes. Keeping up with the mess in home daycare is not easy but with a little routine, you’ll be able to.

In Home Daycare Cleaning: Keeping Up with the Mess!

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Seven little dumplings (or more) can make more messes than you ever imagined. It’s important to have a solid in-home daycare cleaning schedule and to work on teaching kids to clean up after themselves! Work smarter, not harder with these home daycare productivity tips.

Brightly colored kids toys on a shelf - blocks, rings and a stuffed bear.

Keeping up with the mess in home daycare is not as easy as it seems but with a little routine, you’ll be able to manage it.

Teaching Kids to Clean Up After Themselves

Kids can empty a shelf of 500 toys in 30 seconds, but it takes them 30 years to pick it back up. Anyone else notice this? 

One of the best things you can do to cut down on your work in home daycare is to teach kids to pick up after themselves.

After meals, I look under the table and if there are big pieces of food that can’t be vacuumed up, I have the child sitting over that food climb under there, pick it up, and throw it away. 

There’s no reason kids, even 2-year olds, should be dropping food all over the planet and not being taught how to clean up after themselves. This was a big mistake I made with my own daughter and I tried to learn from it.

My daycare kids take their own dishes to the kitchen, then go back and pick up any food they dropped along the way. This creates a little more mess for me in the long run, but over time, teaches kids to be more careful and pay attention.

Another rule I have at Little Sprouts is: If I didn’t play with it, I’m not picking it up. I don’t pick up toys at all unless I got them out. 

The toys are the kid’s job. Even one-year-olds have to pick up their own toys. If kids leave a mess of toys at the end of the day (usually I don’t let them), they are there when they come back the next day.

Consistency with kids teaches them so much. If you keep using the same rules and kids always know what to expect, they will learn to do things on their own

Teaching responsibility is a big part of our job as daycare providers and kids keeping up with the mess they make is a great way to help teach them.

Limit the Area to Clean

One thing I like to do to help make my daycare cleaning easier is to make the kid’s area smaller as the day goes on. 

In the first part of the day, we have the playroom, living room, hallway, and dining room to play in when we are inside. We also go outside to play. 

Before nap time, we clean up the playroom and lay out the sleeping mats. When they finish napping, we close up the playroom and don’t go back in there or in the hallway for the last two hours of the day.

Next, they eat snack. After snack time is over, I start cleaning up the kitchen and dining room. I don’t sweep under the table after all three meals. I wait until after snack or I would be sweeping all day long. Once I have the kitchen and dining room cleaned, we don’t go back in there for the last hour. 

By the time the kids leave, they are only playing in the living room for the final hour. This limits the areas to clean when the day is done and it’s cleanup time.

This also means that I’ve already cleaned up the eating areas before I even get off work. After work, I can run a wet wipe around the problem areas of the bathroom, make sure all the paper towels are in the trash, and run a quick round with my Dyson stick vacuum for any debris in the rest of the house. When my husband comes home, he rounds up all the trash, including the diaper pail, so that’s done too. 

This daily daycare cleaning schedule keeps my home neat and tidy and ready for the little ones the next day.

Home daycare provider vacuuming floors.

Daycare Cleaning Checklist

Continual cleaning is part of in-home daycare. Fingerprints and handprints get on just about everything. Wiping them down regularly keeps it from getting overwhelming. And having a routine for the bigger cleaning jobs helps me stay on top of the mess before it gets too big. 

This is my weekly daycare cleaning checklist: 

  • Tuesdays: Wipe down the kids’ bathroom.
  • Wednesdays: Wipe down the windows the kids can reach including the front storm door. 
  • Fridays: Wipe down around the kids’ eating area and where they can reach on the way to the kitchen. I also wash the sheets on the mats on Friday because that’s my laundry day. 
  • Once a month I sanitize the toys by dumping a sinkful into a plastic tote and then spraying them down. Then, I let that tote dry and put them up and get another one. I have many of my regular toys on shelves or in buckets, so I just do a shelf or bucketful at a time. It usually takes all weekend but it’s passive, spray and walk away. So, it’s not too bad.

The most important way I get everything done is with routines that rotate. Taking big jobs and breaking them down into smaller jobs helps a lot, too. 

Everything ends up getting done and I never have to spend a whole day or weekend cleaning. My husband also helps A LOT with cleaning, and I’m super grateful for that!

Don’t forget to check out the rest of my series on how to run a home daycare and increasing your productivity: 

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Woman in rubber gloves - keeping up with the mess in daycare.

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