School holidays mean more mess – and that’s ok, mess is fun! But cleaning it – not so much. Luckily as mums, we’re pretty good at striking a balance so that the kids have a blast and the cleanup isn’t too much of a punish!

Along with our friends at Oates, we asked our awesome community of mums to share their tips and clever hacks for keeping on top of the holiday mayhem and mess, without putting the brakes on fun. And we’ve had hundreds of amazing ideas flooding in!

From ways to minimise mess from the start, to creative ways to clean up, we’ve loved the tips and secrets our mums have shared for taming school holiday mess – so we’re sharing them! Take a look at these great ideas to help get through the school holidays having fun and keeping clean!

Mum-Tips For Taming School Holiday Mess


Take the fun outside!

“Outside play for easy clean up and having a sheet under tables and trays for easy pour back and clean up.” - mom495001

“Messy activities and meals are done outside on the patio or grass – easy clean up (toddler included!) with a hose and bucket. Then the indoors get a quick mop with my Oates products – et voilà!” – hannahpt

“Do it outside! Not only is it great for the kids to get some vitamin D, but my gosh I didn’t realise how refreshing it was to do a tedious messy activity in the sun!” - Emz

Cover it up

“Put a tarp or paint drop sheet down and save your floors from paint, glitter, glue, stickers etc, Saves so much time cleaning up too.” - mom160270

“When painting, use an old roll of Christmas wrapping paper to easily lay down on the table. Just roll it out and the kids can use that as paper to paint on.” - mom137387

“Splat mats and aprons are your best friends! We also like to put up our butchers paper outside on the walls so that any mess becomes a bit of creative art in the garden.” - charmanda29

“Cover a kids table in foil, then tape baking paper over the entire surface. Let them play with play dough on it – it won’t stick to the table and when they’re done, just throw it away!” - mom498186

“Embrace chaos with an “art attack” sheet—your secret weapon against glitter invasions. Designate a “splatter zone” for experiments, because science should be messy. For toys, practice the 5-second rule: if it’s on the floor, it’s fair game for the toy box tornado!” - mom191188

“A painter’s tarp goes a long way with 90% of activities. And when it can be done in bathers; why not? Easy clean all round” - Dad00

“Puppy toilet training pads on the floors!” - momof4+4

“Use contact on tables to allow for easier cleanups and no table marks.” – mom348878

Clean as you play

“Lots of microfibre cloths and two buckets…one with a bit of disinfectant in water and one with clean water for rinsing the clothes. Keep switching up cloths until everything is clean. Then I wash the cloths in the washer.” – mom109199

“My sons love the outdoors but we have this sandy area out the back so they always are covered in dirt and sand. I always have a water bucket and towel ready before they enter back in the house.” - mom485930

“If indoors, it has to be cleaned up straight away before anything dries and the mess makes its way into every corner of the house. But my best tip – do it outside and then wash them off with the hose!! Gets them clean and lots of fun.” – Teleah

Make it fun!

“Get the kids involved! We do clean up races and the kids are rewarded for new personal best cleaning times!” - missemoo

“My oldest is at the stage where he loves cleaning, so as part of his activities, I’d ask him if he wants to scribbling on the window using crayons and markers. After he is done, we will scrub the windows with soapy water and wipe them all with cloth. Then we use leftover water for water play outside.” - mom41986000

“Teenagers aarrgghh! Shoes, socks, clothes everywhere. I dump all of the things I asked to put away in a spare wheelie bin and hide it.
Then all of a sudden kid is mopping cleaning and spraying his flat like never before.” - mom481548



“We always play MUSIC and start the cleaning time. Everyone has to be very active and do fast. We keep 5-7 minutes and then at the end whoever was most active and did the most gets to pick his favorite chocolate. Would love to win it.” - mom436248

Contain the chaos

“Have a designated craft room/space. A coffee table over lino or wood, a camping table out on the grass. Anywhere you can leave crafting set up and not stress over the mess. It’s so much better than clearing away every day!” - mrswids

“I defeat crayon chaos with baking soda, banish slime stains with dishwashing soap and conquer glitter with a trusty lint roller.” - gabbyc

“Clean first thing in the morning. The house is tidy from the night before and the kids haven’t gotten up to anything in the morning.” -  missusgee

“In one big sweep, clear all surfaces of everything that doesn’t belong. Don’t worry about returning things to their proper place, that’s for tomorrow. Right now, you just want the clutter to disappear and that’s what closets are for.” - rachkap

“Set up an exclusively messy play zone somewhere in the house. Mess can then be contained to one area and easily cleaned.” - BrookeB


When all else fails, embrace the chaos!

“I love mess, my kids have the best time making and creating so i just let them go for it! my best tip, when the mess is overwhelming, just take a deep breath and enjoy the moment.” – sharlene_connors

Or, outsource the mess!

“Drive over to Nanny’s house and sit back and watch them do the activities and their grandparents clean up all the mess.” - wonder_mum

#LaughAtTheMess With Oates!

Oates Microfibre Cloth 3 Pack cloths on table

School holiday mess is all part of the fun, and whether it’s glitter, grime or grubby and gross grot, Oates Microfibre Cloths will come to the rescue. Durable, super absorbent and affordable these cleaning wonders will banish messy bad moods and get the house shipshape again in no time. So you can spend more time making messy school holiday memories!

Want to win 1 in 5 Oates Cleaning Kits? (Yes, please!)

Enter here for your chance to win a handy cleaning kit worth over $100 from Oates!

The prize pack includes:

  • Oates Spin & Clean Mop & Bucket Set + Extra Refill 
  • 2 x Oates Microfibre Cleaning Kit 4pk
  • 2 x Oates Microfibre Cloths 3pk
  • Oates Electrostatic Pet Hair Brush
  • Oates Electrostatic Broom
  • Oates Antibacterial Rainbow Sponge Scourer 8pk


Mouths of Mums is proudly working with Oates to bring you this article. 

We may get commissions for purchases made using links in this post. Learn more.
  • Outside is the best medicine for mess – it hardly seems to happen then.


  • These tips would have been handy when my boys were young. I’ll pass them on to my friends who have small children who I know will appreciate them


  • My tip is do what you can outside or buy a rudie nudie play mat.


  • These are really good tips to know


  • A tarp or drop-sheet on the floor will save so much work.


  • Thanks for the tips. I entered the competition. Fingers crossed. My twins make a lot of mess.


  • These are all great tips! Definitely using some


  • I agree with taking the fun outside when possible !


  • All very good tips for staying on top of the mess.


  • Great tips- I’m all for playing outside!


  • We always cleaned the mess up together making it fun


  • Just go with the flow. Letting them have fun and be creative is what it’s all about.


  • I think I’m a bit of an embrace the mess, but prepare an easy clean up space too :)


  • I’m a big fan of cleaning in the morning and night. Embrace the day and have fun with the kidlets, then frantic tidy before some adult time haha.
    Great tips here


  • Some really great tips here!!! I still keep playdough and painting an outdoor activity!


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