If you have children, you may often wonder if you’re house will ever be clean again. You may have kept a spotless house before life with children. That may seem like a thing of the past now, but it doesn’t have to be. Kids have a way of shifting our priorities, and that certainly applies here. You can have a clean house full of children, with a little creative delegating on your part.
First, there are some basic things to remember when trying to keep your house clean when you have little ones. I don’t need to tell you that when you have kids, you learn to roll with whatever they bring your way. Housekeeping is no different. Life with children is never dull, and certainly never spotless. Though, keeping a clean home is possible, and your children can help.
If your mother kept a spotless home, that doesn’t mean you need to. Think about what you consider “clean,” and then make sure it’s a realistic definition for your life. For all that you balance, work, kids, marriage, home, is it enough to run the vacuum through the living room and wipe the counters? Many would say yes.
You can always schedule your deep cleaning for the Spring, or even splurge and hire a cleaning service. Until then, it may be enough to scoop the toys off the floor and swipe the floors with a wet mop.
When it comes to anything related to kids, consistency is key. Another constant with children is clutter that could potentially cause you stress and anxiety. As they play, they leave a trail of toys in their wake. The same goes for mealtimes and bath times. Crumbs, spills, and laundry are just a part of daily life.
To keep up with it all, learn to pick up a little each day. Find the tasks you need to do every day and, well, do them. Identify some others that you only need to do once or twice a week and schedule those.
For example, if your children are crumb bunnies, be sure to sweep up at least once a day, if not after every meal. Dusting, on the other hand, is something you can do once a week. Your children can help. By modeling these easy cleaning habits, you will teach your children to clean after themselves.
All in Good Fun
No matter the age, your child can help clean up. Whenever you can, make cleaning a game. Hand your little one a basket and see how many toys he can pick up in five minutes. Or, hold a contest and see who can pick up the most toys by the time their favorite song ends. There are even a few dozen children’s cleanup songs available for download. Build clean up into your child’s routine. Or clean up tub toys as the water drains from the bath.
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Clean Up As You Go
Practically speaking, it’s easier to tidy up as you complete the activity that created a mess. You’ll have to be intentional at first until it becomes a habit. At school, kids already know to clean up when they are finished. Putting blocks and puzzles away is part of transitioning to art or playground time.
In a way, they are resetting the play area for the next activity. You can do the same thing in your home, for yourself as well as for the kids. After a while, you’re never cleaning the whole room, only the activity that the family just finished. That applies to the playroom as well as the kitchen, bathroom, and so on.
Get Your Kids on Board
Cleaning with kids is never easy. Though, you are miles ahead of most parents if you make your children part of your cleaning routine. Even toddlers can do their part to clean up after themselves. Most likely, your child won’t clean or tidy up as well as you’d like. Give it time.
Just remember not to redo a task your child completes. Even if they fall short of your expectations, you don’t want to send a negative message that their efforts weren’t good enough. That only creates frustration for everyone.
Give your kids jobs that they can do independently. They can do more as they grow and mature. Next, take the time to teach your child how to complete the task the right way. Everything should have a place, so cleaning up their own spaces should come easy after some initial guidance from you.
Toddlers and Younger Children
Toddlers can sort and stack, so they can put their toys away (with assistance) when they are done playing. As they grow, putting their stuff away should become a habit. Also, toddlers love to mimic what you do. So, why not hand him a duster or handheld vacuum and let him help?
At this age, it’s more role play than actual cleaning, but that’s okay. Toddlers take pride in their accomplishments, so involving them in housecleaning tasks sets an excellent precedent for later, when they can contribute more.
When giving young children instruction, keep it simple. Give a single, clear instruction. If you’re too general, you will lose them. For example, telling them to “go clean your room” will overwhelm a younger child. Try breaking it down, perhaps suggest that he or she put away all the stuffed animals. They can understand and complete the task independently.
Kids are natural negotiators. You don’t want to bargain with the household chores, so be assertive with your directions. If you phrase your question this way, “I need you to sweep the floor, okay?”, you open the door for argument. So, a better way to say it is, “It’s time to sweep the floor. Let’s get the broom and see how fast you can do it!”
Chores for Older Children
Older children have more responsibilities, including homework, sports, and other extracurricular activities. While they are busy, they can still have a few chores. You can give them a bit of choice for completing those. For example, they may choose to do some before school or before bed.
School-age children also have a greater sense of responsibility and pride for a job well done. Be sure to acknowledge your child’s efforts. If they aren’t completing tasks to your satisfaction, show them how you’d like it done.
If you haven’t yet given your kids enough responsibility for cleaning around the house, it’s not too late to start. You will have to lay out your expectations and explain the new house cleaning activities & rules. Follow up as you need to show them how to complete their tasks.
Keep a Clean, Clutter-Free Home
Your house may never be model-home clean while your kids reside under your roof. But you can keep a tidy home and teach your children responsibility and good housekeeping habits at the same time. By modeling and assigning cleaning routines, you can maintain a happy balance, for a clean, clutter-free home.
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