Are you at a loss at what to do with that child who won’t help clean? Or maybe you feel like you clean all day long and by the end of the day it looks like you’ve done nothing? I’ve been there! In fact I bet most parents have. If you are one of those parents who have everything figured out, PLEASE leave a comment below with all your secrets-the rest of us want to hear them! I was chatting with my sister tonight about how we both struggle to maintain our houses and get other family members to help out. I work on it all day and after the kids come home from school, drop everything, eat a snack, play with toys and I’ve destroyed the once clean kitchen in the process of making dinner my hubs will walk in the door and it seriously looks like I did NOTHING all day! I literally greet him with a “Welcome home, the house was clean, sorry you missed it!”
It starts to get pretty frustrating when you are doing the majority of the work around the home and it just never stays done. Ever. Daily you have to remind each child to hang up their backpack, not leave their shoes right in front of the door, bring their lunch boxes to the kitchen…on and on and on. Sometimes asking the children for help isn’t worth the fight, or maybe you are at the end of your rope and have tried everything to get them to help. Maybe you have a child who just won’t help at all. Here are a few ideas on how to motivate them to want to help and hopefully make your daily life a tad easier!
5 steps to a cleaner house and how to get the kids involved!
Step #1) Write it out!
Do your children/spouse have ANY idea what you do all day? Have a family meeting and ask them to list out the things that they notice that you do each day/week to make the house run smoothly. Write these down on a piece of paper or a white board. Make sure everyone lists items, take turns going around to each person so they are included. Then add more to the list from your point of view. Your list might include:
- Pack lunches
- Do everyone’s hair
- Get breakfast for the 4 kids
- Make sure folders/PE shoes are in backpacks
- Gather laundry
- Take laundry to laundry room
- Sort laundry
- Wash laundry
- Fold laundry
- Put away laundry
- Hang up Sally’s backpack
- Hang up Luke’s backpack
- Take out the trash
- Oh the list goes on and on and on!
Make a different line for each task so the list gets nice and LONG and takes up an entire page or 2 or 3! 🙂 Once the list is complete, ask for ONE volunteer in the family wants to do all these tasks by themselves. I doubt anyone will raise their hand and volunteer. Explain that you are a family and a team. You can’t do all these things by yourself every day because it is a lot to do. You need help.
Step #2) Get help!
Now that everyone in your family sees what you really do each day, ask them what items on the list they will take care of this week to help the team. I bet Luke can take care of his own backpack, Sally too. I bet on Wednesday night before bed the kids can gather the laundry, take it to the laundry room, sort it into colors so it will be ready for me on Thursday morning which is laundry day at my house. Emphasize that you need them and will appreciate their help. It feels good to be needed! Soon it will become routine and it will be easier for everyone!
Step #3) Find a cleaning time that works for you!
Like I mentioned before, I will spend a ton of time each day cleaning the house. The kids get home and I turn into angry mommy who sees her just mopped floor get trampled on by wet boots, juice spilled onto it, and I am pretty sure my 3 year old intentionally dumped her bowl of crackers onto the floor and now my 6 month old is crawling all over them and crushing them…..why did I sweep and mop today? Someone, quick, remind me!
For the last 3 weeks I’ve been enjoying my days with my at home children. We have been playing games together, reading, coloring, painting, baking, doing all the things I want to do with them but never had time to because I was so busy cleaning. When my school aged kids get home from school we do an after school routine of after school snack, homework, piano practice, read 3 chapters in the current book they are reading. We then have dinner and if they want to have any sort of TV, video games, computer time they need to EARN it by making sure the entry way and living room floor are picked up. They can clean as quickly or as slow as they want to and the more time they take, the less time they get to have technology time. This has worked really great for my 6 & 8 year old’s. They know that if they drop their backpacks on the floor, they are going to have to pick them up later before they can play anything. I don’t see many backpacks and coats on the floor anymore. I spend some time with my school aged kids and then at 7 pm I start cleaning for the day. All the meals are done so I only have to clean the kitchen and the dining room once each day, not several times “trying” to maintain it. Usually by 8 pm I’ve managed to spend quality time with all of my kids, my house is clean, and I didn’t spend my entire day trying to get it clean. This has been really working for me and my husband has also noticed a big difference in the cleanliness of the house!
Step #4) How to tackle the bedroom/toy room that looks like a disaster area
Quite frankly, at the end of the school day and all of our other tasks the LAST thing I want to make my kids do is clean their room or the toy room. They have been working and learning all day so we save this job for Saturdays. The kids know that every Saturday morning they aren’t going to get any screen time until their room and toy room is clean. They know that they are responsible for their rooms. I will NOT clean this for them. We focus on one room at a time. I ask them how long they think it will take them to clean it. Then I set a timer for that amount of time. If they get it done, they get a reward. If they don’t get it done then they get 10 more minutes. If it still isn’t done after the additional 10 minutes, I go in there with a pillow case and pick up anything left on the floor or anything that was shoved under the beds or into the closet. In order to “earn” these items out of the time out pillow case they have to complete a task for me during the week. They do not like doing this extra work…it is a super motivator! 😉
Step #5) Explain & Demonstrate
Sometimes we don’t realize that a simple concept is foreign to someone else. For example. When I got married I had a $500 credit card bill. I had plenty in savings to pay that credit card bill off and still have a good buffer. I wasn’t aware that I could pay more than the $10 monthly payment. My husband about fell out of his chair when I said, “What? I can pay more than $10 a month on this?” Yah….I had no idea. A few weeks ago I asked my children if they would like to never have to clean the toy room again. They all shouted YES! I said, if you play with the cars and the car mat, then put it away when you are done, there will be no mess on the floor. They said okay we can do that. Then I showed them. We played for a couple of minutes and I said, let’s play barbies now. They dropped the cars and went over the barbies. I said, why don’t we try to put these cars away first. We did it together and I pointed out that the toy room was still clean. That is when it actually hit them, that if they do put a toy away after they are done playing with it, they won’t have to spend much time cleaning on Saturday morning. For the last 3 weeks, the toy room has only taken 2 minutes to clean up! It’s been amazing! My 3 year old said in regards to the put it away when you are done with it idea, “I am so glad you showed me this neat trick!”
Most of all–just know you aren’t alone if you are struggling to keep your house clean. It is a struggle that so many of us have! Keep trying, if these 5 tips don’t work for you, try something else. If you have a great suggestion on how to get a cleaner house or get the kids involved, please post it in the comments below!