CHM 086:Getting Kids Involved in Cleaning Routines

Listen to “CHM 086:Getting Kids Involved in Cleaning Routines” on Spreaker.

As homeschool moms, we are in constant motion- teaching, washing, cooking, cleaning, driving, assisting, fixing…you name it, we’re doing it.  One of our biggest struggles (and I’ve spoken to many homeschool moms over the years) is developing doable cleaning routines and then…keeping the house clean. I’d love to share with you some things that have helped me.   Getting kids involved in cleaning routines has been a lifesaver for our family.  But first, I’d like to share my general daily cleaning routine, so you get an idea of what our home life is like.

Cleaning routines, tip 1: focus on your living room!

Here is where I start (and sometimes end) with my daily cleaning. The reason I pick my living room is that it’s practically the most important room in my house- no kidding about that. It’s where I keep company and it’s also where we have our together time as a family, watching movies or just relaxing.  It’s the first room visitors see when they enter my home, so I’ve made it a priority to keep this part of the house tidy.

I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to housekeeping, but I know what makes me feel comfortable.  I enjoy my living space better when it’s organized and things are in their proper place. My cleaning routine for the living room is pretty simple. The first thing I do is scan the room for what doesn’t belong: the kids’ toys and books, socks, jackets, crayons, loose homeschool papers, and even curriculum. Having a space for all these items makes it 100% easier to have them put back where they belong.  Since they don’t belong in the living room, they go immediately.  And no worries- I don’t do all the work! I’ll talk a bit later about how I get the kids involved.

After I pick up the room a bit, I run the vacuum.  I usually like to dust at least once per week, but I honestly wait until the dust piles up a bit and then I’m visually reminded to go dust. Just to be real about it. Because I have sensitivities and allergies, I really should be more vigilant about it, but I do get around to it as often as I can. Once things are dusted and vacuumed, all DVDs and books in place on the shelf, things look tidier and I’m happy.

We, homeschooling moms, have a ton on our plate. Keeping the house clean is just one extra thing we think about daily, and it can be a drag when it feels overwhelming.  Try picking just one room in your house that makes the most sense to keep clean daily, and make an effort to focus on that one room’s tidiness.  For us, the living room just makes perfect sense.

Clean the kitchen

But then there’s the little nagging voice in the back of my head about tackling my kitchen.  Because our house is an open floor plan and the living room is open to the kitchen, my visitors will get a nice glimpse of that part of my house also.  So into the kitchen, I go.

On a typical day, however, the kitchen is actually the first thing I master.  Since I’m in the kitchen making breakfast I may as well do a quick cleaning run-through. I go ahead and fire up the stovetop for eggs and oatmeal, and meanwhile, I spray down the counters and table with one of my favorite, natural cleaning sprays. I change out the kitchen towels and dishcloth from the day before and wipe down my tables and counter, organizing as I go- putting away things that don’t belong and clearing up the counters leftover from the night before. (I honestly don’t know who is snacking past bedtime but yes, we do have leftover cleaning from the night before sometimes).

I unload the dishwasher and flip the omelet. I sweep the floor, then stir the oatmeal.  By the time breakfast is served, the kitchen has been pre-cleaned.  Then all I have to deal with is breakfast dishes and one final wipe-down of tables, microwave, and stovetop.

On grocery days (once a week for us), I go ahead and clean out the fridge.  Same thing for the oven. I didn’t realize how deeply I could enjoy meals with my family in a clean kitchen.  I learned a lot of my kitchen cleaning tricks from this lady.

Teach kids how to keep tidy and take charge of their own space.

So do I do all of this on my own? I’m raising my girls to become women who can not only help themselves but serve others.  It’s my responsibility to teach them how to clean after themselves and go above and beyond. For my younger child, I have her make sure her items are picked up off the living room floor and placed back in her room.  

Generally, I’ll gather all the loose items I see and place them at the bottom of the staircase.  When my kids walk past, if they notice that something belongs to them, they should take them back up.  That’s just how we roll in our home, but of course, do what works for you.

My girls have their own bedrooms and they share a bath.  So, they are responsible for keeping their rooms and bathroom tidy.  This means, hanging up clothes right after the laundry is brought to their rooms. It means being in charge of your own laundry, especially if you’re a teen.  My teen daughter is in charge of all her laundry.  If she runs out of clothes mid-week (a natural consequence of not keeping up with laundry), she’ll need to borrow clothes or quickly get some washed. My youngest (who is eight) has to keep her toys and clothes picked up off the floor and in their proper places. Their bathtub must be washed after each use, the toilet bowl cleaned often and the sinks wiped down.  

(The clean sink part is the one thing we’re working on with the eight-year-old, but give it time).

Divide laundry duty.

It really helps to have the whole army (i.e.- family) pitch in with the laundry.  The bigger the family, the more help you should receive. With my family of just four- I need the help. Again, laundry duty is divided in my home. In many circumstances, I may end up doing it all.  Typically, though, I let my teen daughter be in charge of hers.  After the laundry is washed we dump it all on one bed and I have the kids take what’s theirs and put them away- right away, if possible.Getting the laundry put away as soon as possible helps with the pile-up.

Use a little negative reinforcement.

Sometimes a little negative reinforcement is necessary to get the point across that you’re more than short order chef and maid. Nothing wrong with being either.  But you can’t be it all, and you need the help around the house.  So, I say, a little negative reinforcement never hurt a kid. For example, for every sock, I see lying around the living room floor (from the night before) I charge a 25-cent fee from my eight-year-old’s allowance.  Sound ridiculous?  It works. Try something weird, yet challenging, and watch your younger kids get into action about helping to keep your house clean.

Use a lot of positive reinforcement.

When my kids were much younger, I used chore charts.  These were always associated with positive reinforcement- meaning, for every week they completed their chores in full, they’d get something from the Dollar Store.  Eventually, the Dollar Store gave way to .99 apps from the app store.

Sometimes, creating a benefit for your kids’ efforts helps them to pitch in more joyfully.No matter what you choose to do, remember that you deserve the help in keeping your house clean.  If you’re not up to hiring maid service, then it has to get done somehow.  But you can always insist that your young ones learn from the master (you) and develop into responsible young men and women by your teaching them the ropes to the basics of keeping their spaces clean.

Teaching our kids to help us keep clean at home also teaches them servitude as they’ll sometimes be asked to pitch for their younger sibling, or even help a parent when sick.  It teaches them how to value and respect their living space, and to respect one another in taking responsibility for their own actions.I pray this podcast/blog post has been a blessing to you. Mentioned in today’s podcast:

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