A year or two back we instigated the Friday Tidy in our house, an initiative which has largely taught our kids how to do a basic house clean and tidy on their own and know if it is a job well done. It does keep on top of the worst of the grim and mess and in my opinion, these skills of dusting, vacuuming, washing down a bathroom and noticing the grime are all ones they are going to need at some point. They had a pleasant few years of life in a house that had a cleaner and I felt they needed to understand about dirt and how it moved through the universe.
Plus… 7 people cause an awful lot of dirt and item displacement and I have far too much of an attention deficit disorder to clean and tidy constantly for the 32 years of active parenting assigned to me.
Someone else needs to do it. We don’t have a big house and there are plenty of us; expecting everyone to clean and tidy one room a week is hardly arduous.
Here is my hit list of how to get kids to tidy up and clean a house.
- Do it alongside them. Disappointing as it is, they are not capable of tidying up or cleaning without a lot of guidance. The Friday Tidy works largely because we all muck in together. I have to tidy my room too, which is often the worst of the lot because it is a dumping ground for stuff all week.
- Show and tell. If they are old enough to polish, they are old enough to polish properly. I do check they’ve done their jobs and get them to redo them if they’ve not done them right. They all think I won’t notice if clean around items without moving them. I do. I think it is useful for them to be regularly reminded I notice everything 😉
- Have a bin in every room. Simple as it sounds, doing this changed our life. Modern life makes so much rubbish and if there is nowhere instant to put it, they will just drop it where they stand. And then teach them that once a week those bins need emptying. They’ll thank you for it later.
- Own an easy to manage vacuum cleaner. We swapped our upright version for a flexible pipe one a year or two ago. We have a 3 storey house and lots of stairs and they couldn’t use it. Then teach them how to methodically vac a room, with special attention to the edge attachment, which works better than repeatedly bashing the skirting board in a fruitless but hopeful attempt with the standard one.
- Be fair and consistent. Share out the jobs fairly but appropriately and make sure everyone can do their one well and for a few weeks before they swap. Little people can swiff cobwebs and big people can clean a bathroom. Do the tidy every week and don’t let standards slip. They don’t have to be high standards necessarily, just keep it going so everyone takes responsibility for keeping it nice and has some pride in the results.
- Have the toolkit. One of mine does a great bathroom clean. I make sure we have cloths and cleaner available so she can do a good job quickly. And I do the loos, because frankly I’m the adult and there is only so far domestic servitude should go.
- A place for everything. I’d be lying if i pretended that our house was a decluttered haven because it really isn’t. But I do find that a weekly basic tidy that puts away everything lying about helps to stop huge clutter spots building up. I also try to get them to *think* about where stuff might go, rather than constantly asking me or bunging stuff in the first available hole.
- Consequences. In general out weekly speed clean of the house goes pretty well. Bedrooms, however, are another matter. I have no problem with games being out while they are current but I do have a problem with heaps of abandoned stuff. I ask nicely, then I ask less nicely. That night I go in and heap remaining offensive tat up in the middle of the room. If that fails, I go in with a bin bag.
- Benefits. I happen to think that a family is a community and should all work together keeping the environment it exists in tidy. One of the upsides of working together on it and being quick and efficient at it is that we get more time together. When the house is done we go out for a family walk or have a sit down meal together or watch a film or play a game. The biggest benefit, the reason I care, is that it just makes us all happier and saves time when we aren’t battling crud.
- Rewards. I don’t pay my kids to do housework for the reasons above but that does leave me with the moneys worth of time it would take me to do the whole house to dish out in pocket money. So I pay my kids for reading books each month. That seems fair, I think.
So what about you? Do your children share housework with you? Is it a good or bad thing? What are your top tips?