Today I want to tell you that YES, YOU CAN HAVE A CLEAN HOUSE AND HAPPY KIDS… A week or so ago, I wrote about how you don’t have to apologize for the mess. We like to play, build forts and have fun. We can have all of these things, a clean house & happy kids, because we can teach our kids to help us, like we help them. No one can do it all- and no one should have to, because as a team (a family), we are stronger and better.
Think about the stick scenario. You can break one twig easily, but if you put 6 twigs together and try to break them, it is much harder. This is because you are stronger together. Now think of your family. One person can only get so much done in a day, but if you all pitch in, you finish things much quicker and you can move onto doing more fun things together.
This is such an amazing gift for them, to learn how to take care of a home and the things that we keep in our homes. I am asked, on a daily basis (via e-mail), how I keep our house clean and play with the kids. Well, lets start by saying that if you stopped by right now, the odds of the house being completely picked up would be slim to none. I’m sure that there would be legos on the ground, costumes throw around the room while the kids are running around in them…
You would see ingredients on the counter while I am making one of the 3 meals or 2 snacks a day (that seems to be a continuous kitchen mess).
However, we do clean up and while our house may be a little “messy” at times, it is always “clean”. My floors are washed, my countertops are wiped down, my rugs are vacuumed… and the kids have helped to do it, because, quite frankly, I just can’t do it all.
So many times, we take over the housework that they can do, because it is faster & more efficient if we do it. It is a disservice to them when we take over. They want to help & they love being a part of the family, by doing their part.
I really understand why we do it- it takes them so much time and effort and we want to help.
Take rinsing off a dish before putting it into the dishwasher, for example. For our kids to do this themselves they will have to:
1- Get a chair
2- Climb onto the chair.
3- Rinse the dish for about two minutes
4- Set the dish on the counter
5- Climb down
6- Put the chair away
7- open the dishwasher
8- Find the dish on the counter
9- put the dish in
10- close the dishwasher
This one little task will take them about 5 minutes, while it takes us about 10 seconds.
It is so fast when we do it. For us:
1- Rinse quickly.
2- open dishwasher, stick it in, close.
Which one sounds easier to you? I know (oh, trust me, I know!) that it is easier to do it ourselves. When I am saying “Come on, guys. Put your dishes away and go ahead out to the car. We have to go.” I tend to just take over, but I am REALLY trying not to do this anymore.
I have to think to myself: Which one will make the kids feel like they are part of this family team and you NEED them to help you to make it work… you doing it or you letting the kids be responsible?
If you make it a habit, it won’t be a big deal. Do a daily “20 minute cleanup” for the toys and have them clean up after themselves every day. Pretty soon, it will just catch on.
I remind myself not to let TIME control me. Instead, I can teach the kids to do it right & then let them do it. (You do have to teach them first– kids aren’t born knowing how to do chores.)
I then remind my kids that if they can help me, I will have more time to spend with them. It is the truth and I want them to understand this.
When your kids help you, it gives you more time to help them:
help them make a craft
help them make a cool fort
help them bake cookies
read a book
play a game with them
help them learn to sew
help them learn to play a sport…
Or use that extra time to Just sit & talk to them…
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