A neat, organized home that’s easy to keep that way is pretty much the holy grail for parents. If you have little ones, you probably feel like they’re always one step ahead of you—making messes as quickly as you can clean them up.
Luckily, we’ve found 15 totally genius, super simple tricks that will help you maintain some semblance of order as your wrecking crew, er … children, roll through.
1. Plastic Bag Painting
For the littlest Picassos and O’Keefes, you can make finger painting an entirely mess-free affair. The Hippie Housewife blog shows us how it’s done. Put a piece of paper and drops of paint or hair gel inside a plastic bag, zip it up, and let little hands “paint” from the outside. You can even forgo the paper and just have paint/gel inside the bag.
2. Snack Organizer
Bypass the after-school snacktime whining by prepping each pocket of on an over-the-door shoe organizer with a set of snacks ready to go. This helpful Instagram account shows us how it’s done.
3. Hair Tie Carabiner
4. Dye Eggs With A Whisk
Spoons and those flimsy wire dippers never seem to keep eggs from flopping into dye, making a mess and staining fingers. Stick an egg in the center of a wire whisk a la Mrs. Happy Homemaker for a sturdy, clean way to dye eggs.
5. Bottle And Breast Pump Organizer
Plastic stackable drawers are a great way to organize all your breast pump parts, bottle lids and nipples, pacifiers and other baby gear. That way they won’t be a big mess in a drawer or forever hanging on your drying rack. Thanks for this great idea from One Crazy House.
6. High-Chair Hook
Stick a hook on the back of a high chair as One Crazy House has done to keep bibs at hand. You can also attach a small suction cup basket to hold a pack of wipes for cleanup.
7. Popsicle Drip Catcher
Popsicles are a kid favorite that leave behind sticky fingers and sugary drippage. Use a to-go coffee lid to catch melting liquid instead. We’ve also seen muffin liners (the foil kind are best) as another drip-catching option.
8. Ziplock Daily Kids Clothes
When you’re packing for your next trip, use a plastic bag for each of your children’s daily outfits, as Money Saving Mom has done. Socks, underwear, outfit and accessories will be organized and easy to grab.
9. Beach Fitted Sheet
Keep sand out of your stuff at the beach by taking an old fitted sheet as shown on the Team Johnson blog with you and propping it up at the corners with your cooler, bags and other beach gear.
10. Tackle Box For Small Toys
A tackle box makes a perfect storage box for action figures, little Lego pieces and other mini kid items that can get lost easily, as @parenthacks on Instagram shows us. We’ve also seen a single layer tackle box used as a snack, game and craft organizer for road trips.
11. Milk Straw Trick
Stop your natural instinct to peel the foil off the top of that fast-food bottle of milk. Stick a straw through it instead as this smart Instagram user has done. Your kids will be less likely to spill their drink all over themselves.
12. Pancake Batter Bottle
Reuse old condiment containers as a batter dispenser, as HomeHacks has done, and you’ll make it easier for your kids to help make pancakes for breakfast.
13. Sippy Cup Tether
Attach an elastic and Velcro strap to a sippy cup and your stroller to thwart your toddler’s tossing ways, as Make It Love It has done. Bonus: Add a suction cup to one end and stick it to a high chair for a spill-free sippy zone.
14. Cereal Container Trash Can
Stick a plastic bag in a cereal container like blogger Madison Shafer and put it in your car for all the wrappers, tissues, napkins and other kid-produced flotsam that gets stuck in between the car seats and on the floor.
15. Frappuccino Paint Containers
Goodness knows your caffeinated-self consumes enough Starbucks blended drinks for every shade of the rainbow. Instead of throwing those cups and lids away, have your kids use them for no-mess painting as Be Brave, Keep Going has done.