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The summer months mean lots of outside (messy) activities. Your kids will roll in the grass, splash in puddles, and play in the sand, all before running through your house.

I grew up on a lake, with lots of sand, slimy lily pads, and neighbors’ sprinklers to keep me dirty. Yet, my mom always seemed to keep a spotless home.

While I don’t live on a lake now, I have my own set of dirty floor problems as my farm kids run in and out of the house all summer long.

These are some of my favorite (tried and true) ways to keep my home clean when my kids play outside.

Start a chore chart

When should kids start chores? This list of age-appropriate chores tells which chores your kids should do based on their age and grade level. It's perfect to teach your children to have a better work ethic!

Before your kids start their days (and during and at the end of the day), get them started on their chores.

Use a magnetic chore chart on the fridge, a laminated paper chart, or even an app with rewards, like the Garmin VivoFit app.

When your kids finish their chores or if they do extra tasks, like vacuuming the stairs or cleaning the car, give them rewards. My kids love earning rewards for things like slumber parties, staying up late, and even taking a field trip to the library.

Check out this list of age-appropriate chores to get started on your chore chart.

Have a “foot bucket”

Place a small bucket of water by the door to your house. Before your kids come in, rinse their feet in the bucket.

Depending on when you cut the grass, the water may get dingy quickly. Change the water daily (or at least every couple of days).

You’ll save yourself (and your floors) so much cleaning!

Keep a hose by the door

If your kids require more than a foot bucket (thanks, slip and slide mixed with a sand box), hose them off.

Just be sure to have a towel ready so they don’t drip all over your floor when they come in (see next tip). 😉

Save dingy towels

Find a set of old beach towels or bath towels and put them in a pretty basket to keep by the door.

When the kids come in the house with wet, muddy, grassy feet, wipe them down with the towels (and don’t worry about removing the stains from the old towels).

If your kids are going to be running in and out of the house all day (WHY do they keep coming in and out, holding the door open, and letting in flies???), keep a towel over the mat by the door.

Remove dirty clothes at the door

Stop the dirt from entering your house! Have your kids leave dirty outerwear, muddy jeans, and wet bathing suits at the door.

Just be sure to hang up wet clothes!

Especially when my kids come home from our farm, they take off their jeans and dirty shirts in the laundry room, which is next to our garage door.

If they’ve been playing in the sprinkler, they leave wet and grassy clothes by the back door, and we hang bathing suits in the shower.

Institute an “off the furniture” policy

If the kids have their own furniture, like bean bag chairs or small armchairs, let them use that instead of the big furniture for movie nights.

Growing up, my mom covered the couches and chairs in blankets, which always struck me as dowdy (she would put them away before guests came, but I still hated it on an everyday basis). However, she’s had the same furniture for years and it still looks like new! Meanwhile, my furniture looked ratty after 5 years.

It’s possible to have nice things even if you have young kids. The trick is to take care of your furniture (and your entire home) before the kids ruin it.

If you can’t keep your kids (and spouse or pets) off the furniture, cover them with a slipcover or blanket. Put the blanket away before people come to visit, but at least your furniture will stay nice for a longer time.

Keep muddy boots outside

Take the “shoes off at the door” policy one step further and keep muddy boots (and clothes) outside.

If things are especially muddy, hose them off, even if you’re just planning on leaving them outside.

If you can’t rinse the muddy clothes with a hose immediately, leave them outside to dry. Once the mud is hardened and dry, use a brush or shake the mud loose before bringing the clothes into the house.

Do a daily quick clean

Cleaning your house is probably the last thing you want to do before bed, but spend fifteen minutes clearing the counters, making sure everything is put away, and sweeping any leftover crumbs.

You’ll thank yourself the next morning when your make your coffee in a clean kitchen.

You may even want to do your quick clean as soon as the kids are in bed. I used to clean the house every Thursday night so I could relax on the couch in my clean home before the kids messed it up again! It was also a nice way to start the weekend. 😉

Get a Roomba

Seriously, the Roomba is the best invention ever!!! I love straight vacuum lines, but if I can have a perfectly vacuumed house every night, I’ll take diagnal lines. 😉

If a Roomba isn’t in your budget (or if you find that it needs a little help on your rugs, especially by the door), get a Bissel to quickly clean the dirtiest areas (like the rugs by the doors).

Have the kids whisk the floors

My kids haven’t learned the concept of eating over their plates, so if your kids struggle with small messes, too, get them a small whisk or broom and let them sweep the messy areas.

I love this little handheld broom and dustpan combo.

Store it in the pantry or hang it on a low hook so the kids can easily access it for after dinner cleanup or when they get dirt on the floor after playing ouside.

Set up cleaning stations

Create mini-cleaning stations throughout your house. In each bathroom, under the kitchen sink, and wherever messes tend to happen, keep a cleaning caddy with cleaning supplies for that room.

Show your kids where you keep the cleaning stations and teach them how to use each item.

When the kids have spills or need to clean something, they’ll at least be able to start the cleaning process (and this will also save your good dish towels because the kids will go to the cleaning caddy instead of using a white towel on chocolate milk).

Keeping a nice house, even during the messy summer months, is possible with a little planning. Create a set of rules and have everyone, even the little kids, pitch in to keep the house clean.

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