La Tela di Carlotta
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Tips for keeping the house neat (and entertain your toddler at the same time)

Mar 7, 2017

As I write this, I feel like I’m lying to you: my house is not clean and neat at all time. Not at all. Sometimes I look around and all I see is mess—messy wardrobes, messy rooms, messy living room, messy kitchen—and I wonder how we got here; other times I go from room to room trying to organise, but I soon realise I’m just moving the mess around; sometimes I finish cleaning and I feel like I should start all over again.

Over the years, though, my husband and I recognised a few tricks that always help us keep the house neat and make us (uhm, make ME… Alex doesn’t stress about this stuff) feel less stressed in the long term. Lately, then, I discovered that most of these easy chores are easily done with my 2 year old, and he actually enjoys them greatly. So here they are, some might seem obvious, but I learnt that when it comes to parenting… nothing is obvious!

  • Keep the dishwasher always empty: when it's clean, take the habit to empty it right away. This way, dirty dishes don't accumulate in the sink and you don't get to the and-now-where-do-I-start point. Oliver loves passing me plates, glasses, tools and cutleries to put away: as he climbs up the dishwasher door to pass me a glass, sometimes I do fear for its life, but it's a small risk to take to have the kitchen always clean and Oliver entertained at the same time. And no, my kitchen is not *always* clean, but you get the point.
  • Get a big basket for your laundries. This is one of my favourite activities lately, because it's very time consuming (for the toddler!): Oliver puts all the dirty clothes—one by one—in the basket, drags the very heavy basket from our bedroom to the balcony, and puts all the dirty clothes—one by one—in the washing machine. The magic words here are "one by one" ;-)Also, between 1.5 and 2 years old, it's the time when a child needs (and seeks) maximum effort to develop strength, and "intelligent" activities—that have a purpose—on the road to his independence. Doing the laundry this way provides both: the heavy basket develops his strength, and the purpose of having clean clothes makes it an "intelligent" activity.
  • Declutter often. I love to declutter, I take pleasure in throwing away things I don't use. I haven't always been this way, I used to be one of those let's-not-throw-anything-away-I-might-need-it-one-day kind of person, until I met Leo Babauta and his zen habits. Thanks to him, I learnt the power (and pleasure) of decluttering, and thanks to my husband I actually put it into practice. It's therapeutic! Keeping little stuff—and stuff that I actually need—makes me feel so good!When we declutter, we usually use Oliver as our trash manager: I give him things—one by one—to go and throw in the trash or in a dedicated bag, and he happily runs back and forth for quite a while if I make it sound like his task is an important one (and it is!).
  • Get rid of boxes and baskets. This is a lesson I learnt recently, when studying about Montessori: boxes and baskets are a magnet for mess (because you end up filling them up with stuff), and for me that's especially true in the bathroom. By removing baskets and boxes, you actually see how much stuff you have that you don't use: the few boxes and baskets we still have around the house get easily filled up with unnecessary things, and that's why they are always my first go-to place when I'm in decluttering mood.
  • A place for everything. This is a habit we are still trying to create, as it's way easier said than done. Every time we run into an object that doesn't have a dedicated place in our house, we either throw it away or we find a place for it: so far, though, this rule hasn't really worked well—that's how my hobby drawer (aka messy dump-in-everything drawer) was created. But it's definitely got potential!I have been more successful at doing it in Oliver's room: all his toys have always been neatly organised and displayed on shelves, and each and every one of them has its own place. Today, I can really see the benefits of this habit when Oliver tidies up after himself, and puts away a toy before taking another one (often, but not always).

BONUS: clean! Oliver loooooves cleaning, especially when I let him use water (it depends on how much I feel like cleaning after him)! Almost every day he uses his cleaning set by Melissa & Doug, which I highly recommend because it’s beautiful, very sturdy and it really cleans (even I use it when Oliver doesn’t see me!).

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The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Terrible twos
The organs of the body: workshop for kids
Kids understand if you give them honesty
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

Nov 19, 2020 • 25m
Pene e vulva: normalizziamo le parole
Con questo episodio inizio una serie di conversazioni a tema sessuale, perché credo che in Italia se ne debba parlare di più, soprattutto tra famiglie con bambini. L'educazione sessuale è un aspetto importante dell'educazione dei bambini e deve iniziare da piccoli. Un ottimo primo passo è proprio quello di normalizzare parole "imbarazzanti" come pene e vulva e sostituirle alle più comuni pisellino e patatina. Nell'episodio dico che non avevo trovato la storia originale in spagnolo della "gall...
16
Nov 13, 2020 • 13m
"Non sono cresciuto Montessori e sono venuto su bene lo stesso!"
In questo breve episodio rifletto su una frase che ho sentito/mi è stata detta spesso per difendere l'educazione tradizionale (da genitori che crescono i propri figli con metodi più tradizionali come le minacce, i castighi, le punizioni ecc). Ti suggerisco anche come risponderei io. La citazione che menziono nell'episodio è una frase che disse la madre di Jane Goodall, antropologa inglese che ha dedicato la sua vita allo studio degli scimpanzé: "Se le persone non sono d’accordo con te, la cos...
15
Nov 6, 2020 • 16m
La rabbia, le urla dei genitori e una storia tibetana
In questo episodio sono stata ispirata da una storia tibetana a parlare di rabbia e del perché urliamo quando siamo arrabbiati. Riconoscere i perché e analizzare le mie reazioni quando urlo è stato per me il primo passo per imparare a gestire la rabbia. Nell'episodio menziono questo articolo: Spiegare come funziona il cervello aiuta i bambini a controllare le loro emozioni. Mi trovi anche su www.lateladicarlotta.com e su Facebook e Instagram come @lateladicarlottablog.
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Instagram

I update Instagram almost every day to be "close" to my family far away.

Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.