As a parent of three I came to the realization,
I can’t do this alone! -Mom
I used to be the mom that did it all by myself. I cleaned, cooked, set tables, washed clothes etc. Then my son turned 4 and my middle child copied everything he did. So her at two, and him at 5 they got put on dish duty. They are completely responsible for putting up their dishes from the dishwasher. Guess what? They enjoy it! For now anyways.
When I came upon this excitement to help clean, I ventured out with them in other chores, dusting, wet sweeping, washing dishes even cleaning tubs. Guess what I found out…They enjoyed it all!
My husband would jokingly come in and see them working and say, “Well, good thing no one else is here to see this sweat shop you’re running here.” I laughed, it was funny, but then it got me thinking. When did it become a bad thing to teach your kids to clean? When did moms, even me, say don’t worry about it, I’ve got it. Why did we stop teaching our kids how to take care of themselves.
Now I know the other side of the argument is that moms want their kids to be a kid. Enjoy childhood, and not worry about too many responsibilities. Then the child goes off to school, the kids throw their backpacks and homework everywhere, are rushed to eat supper, take a bath, and go to bed. Now that’s a night without an extra curricular activity to squeeze in there. There’s no cleaning done what so ever by any one but maybe you if you can muster up the obedience to. Then the end of the week comes and it’s like your hit with a dump truck of stuff everywhere. Now this is purely based off of what I remember my home and life to be like in high school. As teenagers we hardly helped clean unless it was for holidays, our turn to do dishes, and to surprise our parents when they left us alone for a day or weekend. I don’t want to fight my children about cleaning.
As a child I remember I only had to clean for punishment and it was hard work cleaning like wash the walls. My mom used to tell me that she had to learn at 15 how to cook and clean and she hated it therefore she didn’t want me to have to worry about all those things. But how I wish she did…
Let’s all be realistic, although it feels great when it’s done, cleaning and upkeep is a hassle and it is not always fun. I remember my college years and living on my own with a roommate. Two girls in an apt. It was clean we just would have those typical fall behind moments. The things we sucked at the most was taking out the trash but I think it was because we lived on the third floor. I worked three jobs at that time so I was always trying to manage the upkeep.
It wasn’t until I had kids that I decided to make a cleaning schedule. I needed it, I had to follow it, and did for four years I’ve struggled managing everything on my daily to dos. I pushed some back and some forward depending on what was working for me at that time and on that day. With a 3700 square foot home and three kids, animals, and all with lives with needs and wants. You never know where ur going to end up during the day. If they’re happy in their rooms that day and it’s living room clean up day, I trade days. I learned a long time ago that everything can’t be set in stone. Now, I love schedules, and have always respected schedules and have pushed to keep them, but some things you have to learn to let go of the reign, and in this case, clean where your are.
I’ll go ahead and repeat that:
Clean where you are.
Cleaning for me got harder when I got a job, was a coach and now had three kids. I remember the days I felt like a failure because I didn’t have the kitchen stove top clean, or I missed my fridge clean out day and would literally feel disgusting every time I opened it knowing I was behind the schedule. I won’t even talk about missed microwave clean up days. Ugh.
I started hating my own cleaning schedule and literally started thinking that I couldn’t do it. That’s when I realized I’m right, I can’t do it alone. So fast forward back to the kids who enjoy cleaning, now being 5, 3, and 18 months. I decided no more.
I sat with my husband and discussed what he could do and what he wouldn’t mind doing on his off days. His response, was, “Well I just realized I have two full time jobs.” He didn’t realize I needed that much of his help cleaning until I came to him. Then I asked what he would mind the kids clean because there are chemicals and there are some hazards of cleaning. For example, no kids can mop in our house because someone will fall on the tile and get hurt.
We further discussed if only our parents instilled in us the habits of cleaning a little better and the importance of it; then maybe it wouldn’t seem like such a chore. Our kids really enjoy cleaning so we want to try and monopolize on it now before it gets too late. You know, before those attitudes come in full swing.
As a kid I remember if my mom asked me to clean up I rolled my eyes and it was a drag but it’s not like that with my kids. They enjoy cleaning up their plates off the table, throwing away trash and most of the time cleaning up after themselves. No, I’m not living in a fairytale, they are kids, and there are moments when they say mom I don’t feel like it, can you do it for me? Those days I trade them with a hug and a kiss. Hey I just might always offer that up to them all the way up till they’re adults 🤣.
So how do we do it?
So we came up with some positives to tell our children and positives for us to remember so we don’t feel like slave labours but instead parents preparing our children for their futures. Honestly, As a mom of a boy, I don’t want my son to fight with his future wife over being too dirty or messy. I want them to worry about bigger things that are more important things in life. I want my daughters to be well maintained and know how to properly care for themselves and their humble abode. I want them all to be instilled with obedience, prepared for the day, start it off right. In life, I want him to focus on what really matters.
1. Talk the walk AND walk the walk. Obviously, lead by example and start positive verbal cues are important. Anything that sounds important, useful, and not like a chore will make them want to clean. A few things we always say to our kids are:
- Cleanliness is Godliness and remember we try everyday to be more and more like him. To clean up shows God you’re not only trying, but doing.
- Let’s see who can do it the fastest.
- How many insert pick up item here can you carry this time. One time my 3 yr old stacked 4 bowls, 6 cups, and two more bowls on to of her load. It was an unsuccessful mission but she got a huge stack on and kept trying until she could get them all to the destination. Her effort and obedience to keep trying got rewarded that day.
- You clean now, and it makes more time to play later.
- (Of course the basic) When it’s clean and put away, we can find it again. We will always know where things are.
I want them to always try to put things up in order so they can not live a life in scramble. Also, so they don’t get mad at me because I can’t find something that they didn’t put up. It’s so stressful when u don’t have anything together. Especially when you’re a mother and people rely on you. When things are lost, Your days just seem crazy. I don’t want that life for my kids future, so I’ve came up with these five ways to help our kids in the habit of everyday cleaning where it just becomes them and not a chore. It’ll then just be another task, like getting gas for your car, it just has to be done.
2. I recommend to have the kids cups, bowls, and plates somewhere low to where they can reach. That way they can get their own cups, and plates and set their sitting spot up when it’s time to eat. They feel responsible when they do it and everyday little things like getting their water. They love this. I also tell my kids the hands that takes it out, are the hands that put it up, so they know it’s not done until they get them back in the cabinet before and after meals.
3. Kids love gloves, don’t know why, so have 30 min cleaning sessions and have them help you clean an area in the house that day that needs a good, down and dirty cleaning. Put some music on, dress the part, maid outfits, hair in bandanas, make it extra fun so it’s funny to them as well. Also, so when they look back when they’re cleaning their countertops, they might get a laugh out of some old memories with me.
4. Bring out the big guns. My favorite, when we bring out the tools, and all the wands and machines, they get so excited and can’t wait to choose which ones they will use this time. Kick out those buckets and get some button pushing tools because I promise you the kids love it if it has a button. The spinning wand is the best one, it has so much power and easy to use for both big kids. They cleaned my whole shower once. It was awesome!
5. Last, but not least, have BUBBLE FIGHTS. The best part about cleaning is the bubbles. Bubbles in the bath, bubbles in the sink when you’re washing dishes, and bubbles in the buckets when you’re cleaning. Every time I get done washing dishes I clean out the sink, and load it up with clean bubbles and have a big fight. This is of course MY FAVORITE.
These are simple, but small ways to help encourage your kiddos to enjoy cleaning. To not only become clean kids that turn into clean adults, but to have another area in life that you all can enjoy together vs an area that makes you argue. Now, I can be living in a complete fairytale, and the joy in cleaning might end when they reach their teenage years but at least we will always have these years of enjoying it together. In the end, that’s all I want. Is to create moments that are memorable even in life filled with mess around every corner.
– Ashly Williams<<