In no way am I a super organized person. I do, however, like a clean home. It does not have to be Martha Stewart fancy or hospital sanitized. Just clean. Here’s the rub. When you have kids, cleaning is like raking leaves on a windy day in Chicago. With a fork. Some of you tiger moms have subdued your cubs into knowing nothing but neat and tidy. To you guys; I kind of hate you. No, not really. I’m joking. But your kids are going to end up putting you in a nursing home. Back to cleaning.
Our five years olds are getting to the point where we can give them some responsibilities. They honestly do enjoy helping. They get to help feed the dog, clean windows things like that. The only problem is when kids help, it’s almost never help. They suck at it. But it’s not their fault. You have to teach them and that what sucks too. It usually means you have to go back and redo the crap again. You also have to encourage them and say what an awesome job they are doing. Even if that job looks like six blind monkeys covered in mud did it. It needs to be praised like no other.
I’m in no way saying that is how I started with my tribe. Thank God for my wife. Apparently at 30, I lost my high level of patience. Working in the food service industry, managing teenage employees will do that to you. I had to learn to maneuver between my tough skin and softer side. You have to understand that five year olds will use whole roll of paper towel to clean one mirror. It will be spot less but you are going to need to plant a rainforest to replace all the paper goods they will use. As a parent you show them the tricks of how to do it. How you like it or want it. Eventually that builds confidence and then they want to make you proud. That’s what we all want anyway, right?
Strap in because this is where I get all life coach with this shit. As adults we take pride in our work. I would like to the think that you care what your boss thinks about your work. No one wants to suck. Nobody plans on not getting a promotion. You like the pats on the back. Guess what? So do your kids. They love knowing mommy and daddy are proud of what they did. Why do you think they chant: “Look, look, look what I did!” That craving to hear, “Wow! That’s awesome!” Feed them that daily. I even challenge myself to find something awesome my child has done and let them know. Make that toy they picked up off the floor a big deal. They clean a window, you tell them you are not using another mirror because that window is so clear. Walk into it and joke it was so clear you thought the patio door was open. You do whatever you can to make it seem like they have just brought down the moon for you with that one thing.
My beautiful wife told me this: “For every correction you have you should have twice as much praise.” Again, I am not the guy to say it’s easy. It won’t be. You are going to want to scream your head off. That’s okay. It’s normal. If it were easy, nobody would have nannies or maids. You may be wondering when is a good time to start giving your kids jobs around the house. The answer to that is you know your kid. You know what they can do. Toot had a mini Dyson when he turned 3. He loved it. Make it a game for them. Be safe and use natural cleaning products. Windows and mirrors are fun and easy to do. Just regulate the paper towel use. If you are one of those people that get the newspaper you can use old newspapers. They don’t leave streaks. But didn’t you say cleaning with kids is like raking leaves……….. blah blah blah? Yes I did and that brings me to my next point. When it gets messed up again don’t freak out. You knew it was going to happen. It always does. If you can’t deal with it then one of two things need to happen. Give up. Yes give up. Just wait till they hit 18 and when they are out of your house you can have it as clean as you want. You may end up with no house guests and roaches. Or you can go option 2. Show them how to maintain. If you give everything a home and a limit you can win this battle for more than just one day. We managed 4 months of a spotless room occupied by two five year old boys. Every toy had a specific home. It was not until cousins and parties happened that control was lost. Give them ownership and they will enforce it. Have you ever told any kid they were in charge before? You want to see power go straight to someone’s head? Tell a kid they are in charge sit back and enjoy.
I’ll end with this. We need to teach our kids to care about the little things. If they care about that the big things will fall in line. It starts with please, moves to praise. Thank you blossoms into I love you. If you come to our house and it is clean know this also. We busted our ass to make it look nice for you. We folded and put up laundry so you could sit on our couch. We had kids clean windows and wipe toothpaste out of the sink. I made sure they lifted the lid when they went potty. They can’t aim very well. More importantly, you are welcome to our home and there is nothing your kid can mess up more than what our own have already done. But if you come during the workweek you are on your own.
Have a great weekend!