How to Live in a Stylish Home Despite Having Kids

stylish room

I have a love/hate relationship with the fact that almost everyone that comes into our home assumes that I spend hours cleaning up before their arrival. I love that they’ve noticed my clean and lovely home, but I hate that they assume that because I have four kids I must live in a pigsty unless I have guests. I don’t. In fact, my house is never a mess and my kids still have a good time, have plenty of imagination and utilize every room in our house. Nor do I spend hours and hours cleaning. I don’t stress myself out about my clean house or my stylish house. I have four kids and I have a lovely tablescape on our large dining room table that changes with the seasons and the holidays. We have candles and photo frames and glass décor on tables and entry way doors. I’m a neat freak and I love style, and I simply was not willing to give up either when just because we were welcoming kids into our home.

I see the “I can have a clean house or happy kids, but not both,” memes on Pinterest. And you know what I think? I think they’re a copout just like I think parents who say things like “My kid has imagination and spunk, and that’s why she doesn’t behave in public. I’m glad she’s not obedient and boring,” is an excuse for parents to let their kids do what they want without any discipline. I’m not perfect; far from it. But I have four kids, a full time job that I work from home, and I have a husband. I also have a clean house that has plenty of stylish features, and my kids are not affected by that. My kids can have a clean house and a happy childhood; I did.

So, here’s my thought. You can have a messy house and pretend it’s messy because you want your kids to be happy and you want to lounge around the couch on Facebook and Instagram all day long, or you can have a clean house and happy kids by prioritizing your life. You can also add style and décor to your home despite having kids. It’s not hard; trust me. If you want to have a clean and stylish house with kids at home, do it; here’s how.

Start from Day One Teaching Respect

We have kids, but our kids don’t dictate our schedules and lives. We are the parents, so we get to make the rules (that’s what’s fun about being a parent). We set the bedtime and we enforce it from day one (and that’s meant we’ve got four kids who’ve never cried or thrown a fit about being in bed at bed or nap time). We set the rules for eating only at the table. Our kids have always grown up with décor in the house and the simple rule that they don’t touch them. It’s not that hard to do. You enforce a rule from day one, and kids are plenty used to it.

Lead by Example

Part of having a stylish house means keeping it clean. Our kids learn this from example. Their entire lives they’ve seen us clean as we go. We put things away if we are no longer using them. We put our plate in the dishwasher when we are done with it. They’ve been cleaning their own place settings since they were old enough to do so. They know when they are done with a snack, their bowl or plate goes in the sink. They know when they are done with a toy, it gets put back. They see us do it, and they do it. They’re clean and neat because we are clean and neat.

We don’t care what their rooms or the playroom looks like all day long, so long as they straighten it up before bed. And they do. We don’t heavy-duty clean every day, but we do vacuum and mop each evening, dishes are done as needed and laundry is done on a daily basis. We clean counters and dust quickly each evening and wipe down bathrooms post-bath time. It takes all of 30 minutes a day, but it’s worth it.

Create a Playroom

The most important thing we did for our kids was create a playroom for the four of them. They have their ‘shared’ toys, such as kitchens and train sets and doll houses in there. They know that they are free to bring toys out of there, but they also know that they have to go back when they are finished with them. And for the most part, they don’t move things out of their or their rooms. They’d rather play where the toys are – and that’s been a great deal for us.

Go for Kid-Friendly Materials

All of our furniture looks way more expensive than it is. We’re stylish; not stupid. We don’t spend money on things that the kids will likely destroy by accident over just by nature over the years. We have leather furniture because it’s easy to clean. We have amazing coffee tables that we picked up for $60 at Home Goods that the kids can destroy and not break our hearts. Nothing within reach is breakable. All those gorgeous pillows on our furniture? They’re cheap pillows from IKEA covered in inexpensive custom covers I’ve ordered from Etsy that can be taken off and washed in a second. Those gorgeous peonies in that vase on the coffee table in the living room? Totally fake. Our coffee table is tufted on top so if the vase falls, it’s not breaking. It sits on a cheap serving tray I bought a TJ Maxx for like $5 that looks just like the one I really want but don’t want my kids touching from Pottery Barn. The flowers are fake so they don’t need water. The kids don’t touch them, but if they did, I wouldn’t care.

Put the Good Stuff up High

Our candle holders and other breakable items are just too high up for our twins to reach, and we’ve done an excellent job making sure our 4 and 7-year-olds know that you just don’t play with the decorations in the house. They can look all they want, but all we’ve had to do is remind them as they’ve grown up that they’re not for touching. They’re up high enough that little hands can’t hurt them, but they’re capable of understanding that you don’t touch them by the time they are tall enough to reach them.

Choose Wisely

Everything we have in our home that could potentially be destroyed by one of our kids is not valuable to us. Our rugs might look expensive, but they’re not. Everything is affordable and easily replaced should the need arise. We have lamps and nice dishes and nice décor, but we also know that our lives are not going to be ruined if anything happens to them. I love Home Goods and TJ Maxx for things like this. One day we’ll be able to Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware-out our house once again, but for now everything is easily replaceable and not that important to us. Buy affordable, replace as needed and just teach your kids to respect your stuff the same way that you respect theirs.

It’s all in the Details

A stylish house can consist of small details; they sometimes make the biggest difference. It’s the small vase on the table with three long stemmed tulips. It’s the decorative pillows on the couch. It’s the gorgeous but inexpensive rug. It’s the curtains you hang. It’s wide wooden blinds rather than cheap plastic blinds. It’s a lack of clutter. It’s the art you hang on the walls. It’s all in the small details that your kids cannot break, mess with or destroy when it comes to a stylish house.

I promise you that when you raise your kids with decorations instead of hiding them all away, you might lose a few here and there, but your kids will very quickly learn a respect for these items.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images


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