Getting Your Kids to Clean

Cleaning and de-cluttering is an emotional issue for me.  I struggled with it for years and years.  Which makes me feel like I may not be the best person to dish out advice.  However, I have learned a lot over the years especially from my husband who is more naturally organized.  So please understand most of what I have implemented is from lots of trial and error and learning from my own mistakes.  I did not want to blog about it until we had several weeks of “drama free cleaning” and I can safely say we have.

Last spring the kid’s bathroom was getting so nasty last year with toothpaste blobs all over the sink, laundry thrown all over the floor, and toys from the family room somehow ending up on the counter. I about lost it.  We actually kicked the kids out of their bathroom for a couple of days and they had to use the one in the laundry room on the other side of the house.  I got tired of their rooms becoming cluttered, their beds being sloppily made, and laundry thrown everywhere but the hamper.  I found myself organizing their rooms only to see them go back to that state a week later.

I started to feel like the “mom martyr” declaring how I was the only who cared and I am the only one who cleans.  If that’s you, the problem is you are not giving your kids enough responsibility and they don’t care about the mess because they don’t have to.  Why clean if Mom is going to do it anyway?  Or I don’t know what to clean or how to clean because Mom never showed me how.  So by that point I felt overwhelmed by the mess, and I also felt like a bad mother for not giving my kids enough responsibility.  Once my pity party was over, I could actually make some changes and see some results.

We tried a number of different things and settled on something quite simple.  I make a chart each month–one column per week.  Each weekday the kids have the chance “to earn a star” which is a simple sticker put next to their name.  To earn a star they have to 1) make their bed properly for their age level (I have had to do Bed Making 101 a couple of times and sometimes they need reminders) 2)  have their room mostly clean (no laundry on the floor, toys put away etc.)  I tell them if I can vacuum without sucking up toys, it is usually clean.  3)  bathroom mostly clean.  Most of the time they have to pick up towels and wipe down counters.  They don’t clean the toilet, bath tub or mop the floor during the week.  This needs to be done before school.  So sometimes this means packing their lunch (which I don’t do at all anymore–they do it), laying out clothes, and getting homework finished the night before.

chores

My husband or I inspect usually right before they leave for school or right after.  They have not gotten a star everyday.  They are starting to feel the pinch when they don’t get one.  It is motivating them to try harder the next day.  All three kids have different personalities and some are more organized than others.  But all three have adapted to this system and are motivated by it.

If they earn a certain number of stars (we say 4 per week which gives them one day of grace) they get some type of reward.  It has been anything from a doughnut from the bakery, a candy bar, or a can of pop.  In January we tried earning stars for the whole month and they got lunch from Mc Donalds delivered to them at school.  I think I like the weekly reward better–it is just more work to find weekly rewards that are not expensive.

It hasn’t happened yet, but it could happen that one child does not earn the reward while the others do.  That is life–you don’t do the work, you don’t get the reward.  However we do try to show grace and give lots of encouragement for certain situations.

The heavier cleaning like the toilets and sinks, vacuuming, trash, and disinfecting high traffic areas gets done on the weekends–typically Saturday mornings.  We divide it up among the kids.  The kids have been doing this on Saturdays for over two years now and it is part of their routine.  Since I started in home child care, we also have to do some cleaning Sunday late afternoon to get ready for Monday.  If we did quite a bit on Saturday, this does not take very long.

I was de-cluttering their rooms while they were in school when I had an afternoon off from child care.  This was happening once every 4-6 months.  Then my husband remarked that it is their room and they need to be involved in the de-cluttering. Is it more work?  Yes.  But they don’t learn responsibility if you did it all for them. So we decided we would do this with them about once a month or at least every other month.  Some of the kids need it more often than others.  My husband and I take turns helping them with this.  I did it at the beginning of the school year and he did it closer to the holidays.  Some of the kids need it again soon.

As for cleaning other areas of the house, I don’t have a great rhythm for that right now.  I tend to clean throughout the day rather than one block of time.  I know areas get neglected so I may go back to a chore list.  I try to keep the laundry at a steady pace so I don’t spend an entire day doing laundry.  With busier weeks, this gets difficult.  Laundry is one of those areas I need to help the kids take more responsibility so this is a goal for 2015.

What has helped me the most is having my husband on board and taking initiative in their chores.  I am not one of these moms who thinks they can do it all.  It has always come very natural to us to share in the housework, cooking, shopping, etc.  We both work, exercise regularly, are involved in our church and kid’s school–it makes sense to share in the housework too.

All in all I am happy my kids go off to school with clean rooms and a decent looking bathroom with little to no drama anymore.  They are doing so much better taking responsibility and I know they are learning valuable skills that will pay off when they fly the nest one day.

Advertisements

Six things about the first day of Spring Break

  1. My husband prank called me and I fell for it.  It took me a long time to figure out it was him.  He is still like a little kid playing with the phone…never grew out of it.
  2. My kids really can play on their own all day long.  They don’t need me to intervene all the time.
  3. I continued my track record of not having the right documents at the DMV and had to go home and retrieve them before getting my license renewed.  I am glad we live practically across the street.  Michiganders the DMV = the Secretary of State Office.  Yes, it took me awhile to make the transition.
  4. I can still focus if I have my ipod in my ears even if the kids two feet away yelling and singing loud songs.
  5. I get more done if I take a break from Facebook.  I’m really sick of Facebook.
  6. I don’t think I ever accomplished this much in one day ever.  I got SO much crossed off my “to do list.”  I am seriously in amazement.  I feel high on progress.

I Gave Up Complaining for Lent

6:45 AM is not early for me.  On many mornings my alarm goes off at 4:45 AM and I get a workout in before a day of homemaking/child care giving/everything else I do begins.  But 6:45 IS early when your kids do not have school, your husband has the day off, and YOU do not.  Crankiness done. Over.

And actually complaining especially about my schedule and responsibilities is something I gave up for Lent.  My husband often said how we should not give something up during Lent (such as chocolate, pop, Facebook etc.) but rather focus and tackle something we struggle with.  The year he gave up worrying he was hit with particular issues that caused tremendous “worry.”  Like he had to walk through a valley to make it back to the hillside.

That is exactly how I felt this week.  I thought it was going to be a light easy going week.  Especially with the kids being home extra days and the weather absolutely perfect.  But that instant need to complain is always on the tip of my tongue.  The things I want to complain about about are constantly in my sight–and no I don’t mean my children.

I mean the little cluttery pieces of toys spread everywhere.  I mean half colored pieces of paper all over the floor.  Shoes (including mine!) spread all over the eating area.  Toothpaste spots all over the sink.  Laundry where it should not be thrown–socks all over the family room store get to me even if they are mine.

And it’s not just clutter.  It’s the little jobs on the “to do list” that get carried over week to week because they never seem to get done.  It’s the desire to not want to do anything but bum around on Facebook (or write blog entries). It’s the fact the kids broke the space bar on my keyboard and typing has become a slow tedious task.  Or they ripped their Sunday pants.

Yet I ask myself, “Amy is it really that bad?”  Is it so bad you need to broadcast it to everyone?  The toys get picked up.  The paper gets recycled.  The shoes get put away.  The laundry gets done.  The kids are old enough that they actually help with this.  A lot.  The little jobs get done…sometimes on the brink of a deadline…but they do. Goodwill sells keyboards…and pants.

And isn’t God good ALL the time?  He know what we need, what valleys we need to walk through, and what hillsides we can rest on.062-DSC09008

Love those Kids Quotes

Before we read our Bible Story as part of our preschool homeschool routine:

Youngest Child:  “Mom, my favorite Bible Story is John the Baptized.”

Me:  “Oh yay because that’s the one I was going to read to you this morning.”

Youngest Child:  “I love John the Baptized because he baptized Jesus.”

Middle Son Holding an 8 1/2 x 11 dry erase board:

Mom this is my ipad.  I am going to go in the family room and play Diner Dash.”

Middle Son in the Library…

Little kid in the library to my son:  “My name is Collin.  I am six years old.  How many are you?”

My son:  “99 dollars.”

As I was cleaning up…

Middle Son:  Mom, you aren’t supposed to hold scissors that way.  You would not get a scissors safety certificate.

After my son colored in my oldest’s notebook…

8 year old:  “Don’t color in my book!  I don’t want all scratches in it when I send it to the publisher.”

Doing Saturday chores with my oldest

8 year old:  How do I get the bucket ready to mop the floor?

Me:  Put a little bit of Pine Sol in the bucket and add water.  You know how to do that, right?

8 year old:  I’m too afraid to add the Pine Sol.

Me:  Why?

8 year old:  What if I drink it?

Me:  Well then don’t drink it.

Organizing craft items

I am not the most organized person.  I tend to have little clutter piles and I spend a good part of the day “de-piling.”  My husband bought this bin (and I have another one that is the same in the front hallway) for storing craft materials.  Since I now do in home child care we do crafts and creative activities fairly often.  One of the girls I watch said her first day–“Oh yeah I remember this place.  This is the craft place.”  Never knew I was known for that, but I’ll take it.  It took me a couple of months to figure out what craft materials I always want to have on hand and how to store them.Image

Originally I had stick labels on each drawer and that lasted…oh about a week.  They fell off and I found sticky labels all over the house.  This time around I used a piece of felt attached with a safety bin.  I have 8 bins total and the ones I use the most are in our prime crafting area aka around the kitchen table.  I have bins for foam, paper (white drawing paper that often comes from our church’s recycle box, construction paper, and scrapbook paper). letters and numbers (educational items for home school preschool), small craft supplies (like wiggly eyes, fasteners, beads, pipe cleaners etc.), felt, old magazines, paints, and “recycleables” (like toilet paper tubes and cereal boxes). I organized it all a couple weeks and it’s staying organized!

Image

I keep a list of on the fridge of items I have run out of or need for upcoming weeks.  I usually plan my child care crafts 2-3 weeks in advance.

Image

This is my old craft cupboard.  The problem was I had to take almost everything out to get what I needed.  Drawers were way more practical.  I use this cupboard to store the heavier items so they don’t weigh down the cloth drawers like glue bottles, acrylic paint, wooden stamps, plastic animals, etc.

Image

It has made craft time much, much smoother because I am no longer searching for items.  Everything has its own place.

I fought the cold and the cold won

I was very determined to not catch the cold that all three my kids had or are getting over.  I was armed with vitamins and cold remedy zinc.  Plus go go hand sanitizer and frequent hand washing.  Disinfectant wipes are a must have.  Maybe it was the fact I got very little sleep Friday night because I was at an all night party with eight middle schoolers.  Or just because I can’t avoid every single virus.

Monday night I declared myself officially sick.

Thankfully I am feeling much better tonight and it was short lived.  My husband reminded me that my vitamins are not going to keep me invincible from everything.  Then I question why he never seems to get sick?  So not fair!