My growing preschooler may be just over three feet tall and all of 30 pounds, but she sure can generate some fantastic spills and messes. Sometimes my family room looks like an entire football team ran through it. While life wouldn’t be lived without a mess or two, having some quick remedies at hand is key to surviving the everyday cleanups that are an inevitable part of childhood.
1. Potty Training Accidents
Problem: Potty training is well under way in my house, but accidents abound. Pee-pee has now made contact with my upholstered couch, several carpets and the kitchen hardwood floor. What to do?
Solution: If in doubt, I first turn to the simplest solution, and by that I mean good old-fashioned white vinegar. I usually mix one-part water and one-part vinegar in a spray bottle to keep on hand to spray for quick clean ups. If the vinegar smell doesn’t fade, I then sprinkle baking soda over the area and vacuum it all up once dry. For really bad accidents, and yes, by this I mean the rare occasion when a poop accident takes place, I turn to brand name pet urine/mess remover sprays. These work great, but I use them only as a last resort since it’s a less Eco-friendly option. And for some reason, my daughter tends to avoid accidents on the hardwood floor, but it has happened. When it does, I love using something like Bona, which also works wonders, is wood-safe, non-toxic and biodegradable.
2. Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk
Problem: My child loves to throw her sippy cup of milk or her yogurt shakes on the carpeted floor or, worse yet, in my car. Besides being left with crusted, white patches on my brand-new carpet, last month my car smelled so bad, we couldn’t drive it for two days! Need I say more?
Solution: My car situation became the perfect experiment to apply a homemade baking soda paste (just 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water), which I vacuumed once dry. This was a last ditch effort after trying several cleaners, soaps, and deodorizers. The mystery odor finally disappeared after three applications of the baking soda paste, never to return again…or at least until the next undetected spill.
3. The Roaming Artist
Problem: My daughter is a budding Picasso. My family room walls and furniture are constantly covered in markers and crayon marks.
Solution: First, I learned the hard way to only allow my child to use washable crayons and markers around the house. Anything else is playing with fire. Magic erasers have become my best friend and are great for getting marks off my painted walls. Ordinary dish soap and water can take care of pretty much everything else. A broader solution would be to allow my child to play with soap crayons in the tub so as to satisfy her craving to draw on the walls. I did try this and found wiping down the tub tiles each time was more of an effort than dealing with the occasional downstairs wall art.
4. Tread Lightly With Dirty Shoes
Problem: When I pick my daughter up from preschool, it never fails that the back of the front car seat is covered in mud by the time we get home. She is a great kicker, so I can only imagine this will get worse if she takes up soccer or continues her love of playing in the mud.
Solution: Wiping this off sooner than later is key. I keep some leather wipes in my garage to give a 30-second wipe down upon arrival before the mess solidifies. Some day I will spring for a more permanent fix, like back seat protectors, which must be very helpful if you are carting around your own outfield or soccer team.
5. The Bathroom Is Mess Central
Problem: My daughter’s bathroom takes a daily beating at bedtime. Sometimes toilet accuracy is not perfect. She also loves brushing her teeth so much that more toothpaste ends up on the counter, than in her mouth. And finally, even though she is a diligent hand washer, messy fingers always leave marks on the sink.
Solution: I stash some disinfecting wipes close by which is easier than lugging out a spray bottle that I keep safely stored away. My favorites are those like Method’s tub and tile wipes, which are non-toxic and septic-friendly, meaning I just flush them down the toilet when done. It’s so easy and safe, my daughter even does it herself sometimes. Now if only she also did floors.