A Clean Home is a Happy Home... Sometimes

This is the mother of all questions, trust me, I know. It seems to be such an enigma you'd think the answer would be inscribed in some ancient scroll or the Mayan pyramids.  It actually turns out it's not as hard as we all thought.

Viva La Resistance! My kids trying to get out of doing a chore through any means possible.

Me: "Fifi, can you please put these few dishes in the dishwasher?" (enter a very simple request)
Her: "ME? Why me?!!! Oh, this is SOOOO unfair!!!! Why do I have to wash everyone's dishes?  I didn't get them dirty? Ugh, this is SOOO GROSS!!! Look at all these gross plates! This is so unfair!!"

And on it goes, until she makes a mess and has put three plates in and she says she's "done".  Yup, I end up taking over and that's the end of that one.  I guess she showed me right?

See their mentality goes something like this: "If I do a really bad job at something then they won't ask me to do it again! I'm a Geenius."  Turns out, my kids are pretty clever because this actually works... sometimes.  Our of my frustration I end up giving in.  Sure there's always consequences like they lose their phone or iPad but the point is they didn't learn the main idea, and that is to help.

If you want your kids to be responsible, they need responsibilities!
There's no other way around it, they need to help. If you want to grow a responsible adult, you need to start with them being a responsible child.  Sure, sometimes everything turns around and a slob becomes a super tidy and organized adult, but what are the odds.  I know of hoarder parents who have super tidy children, either out of desperation seeing their parents or they are just born that way.  And we go back to Nature v. Nurture again.  In this case, I say Nurture wins, why, because we can't wait to find out if Nature will do it's thing later on.  We have to instill in our children however we can those very same principles our parents did to us.  Trust me, I know.  

That hoarder parents I just talked about?  Well, my mother was the polar opposite of that, like she could be in another planet polar opposite and still be slightly off. How clean? She thinks the smell of clorox is the best smell in the world clean. She washes clothes by hand because the washing machine doesn't get them clean enough clean.  Ok, you get it, my mom was clean so making her happy was difficult but I tried, my best, whatever that was.  I mean, I am not like my mother, like I said she's from another planet clean, I call it SuperCrazyCleantopo, and me well I'm from Texas.  I like clean but a mess once in a while is acceptable, kids will be kids right, that's why God created clorox wipes,  but I do expect a big pretty clean up afterwards.   
  1. Make a chore list and have them pick their chores. You can make a list of chores that are age appropriate and have they choose the ones they prefer. You can laminate the sheet with checkboxes to use daily.  By the time they are 12 they should pretty much be capable of doing most chores around the house. Remind them chores are not punishment but rather a responsibility everyone in the home has.
  2. It's everybody's mess. The key here is that kids need to realize the home is everyone's responsibility.  Keeping the home tidy is part of being a family and everyone has to do their part. 
  3. Don't expect perfection. Don't forget to praise your children for their good effort but don't expect perfection.  There should be a standard but depending on their age there's only so much they can do.  One last thing to remember is to never pay them as rewards for doing their chores. They will expect to get paid for everything else in the future.  
Chores can also be fun believe it or not.  Choose one day to be Tidyday... Saturdays works great since they are home all day but also during the week, to become the days to tidy up the house.  Turn up the Pandora radio up high and turn it into an everyone helps day.  Tackle one room at a time and try a fun game like "tidy up the room by the time the song is over."  

Hope these tips help... they have made chores tolerable around this home but remember, kids will be kids.  These days don't last and experimenting and having fun with things is where it's at at this age. Pink Floyd said it best, "Leave them kids alone!" Ah, Pink Floyd that was some good music. Squirrel!

Happy Tidying up! :)

Lorena Frith

Lifestyle Photographer in Houston, Texas

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