I used to want my house to look like the lovely pictures in the magazines on my coffee table – decorated nicely, clean, things always in their place.
Then I had 3 kids and started working on a PhD and my standards moved to just being happy when nothing was growing in the toilets.
At the beginning of the year I had someone coming to help clean every two weeks. It was glorious and allowed me the much-needed time to write my dissertation. Now that school is almost done (dissertation defense in two weeks – yea!) it’s time I get back to my own cleaning and organizing routine. And, frankly I’m totally looking forward to it.
In all honesty, though, I’ve always had a little trouble with the kids cleaning their rooms. This seems to be the area that continues to baffle me. Usually I just tell them “clean up your room!” and the whining and fighting begins. They get frustrated, I get angry, and the room…well, the room is never completely done.
I realized recently (hello, lightbulb! It took you long enough!) that I am asking the kids to live up to my standards of clean and organized which is a bit unrealistic because, well, they’re kids. I certainly want them to establish good habits, but giving them a blanket statement of “clean up your room” didn’t compute in their tiny little brains. On the few occasions when it did make sense they never reached the expectation of what I wanted for their rooms. And I thought…
Why the hell do I want their rooms to look like the Pottery Barn Kids catalog?! They’re kids! Let them enjoy their rooms!
But, in the interest of continuing of establishing good habits, I’ve decided to forego the “clean up your room” and break tasks into smaller, daily chunks. This puts the task at their level so they can accomplish it and still has them learning the lessons of cleaning up. And, while this new idea means their rooms will never be “done” to my unrealistic magazine standards, they will at least be doing a little everyday.
Here’s what I’ve come up with. The charts are printed and will be taped on their bedroom doors so they can look at it, get the task done, and move on:
Everyday they have one or two simple tasks to complete – each taking no more than 5 or 10 minutes. I know that the whole room will be picked up during the week and they won’t be overwhelmed with doing the whole thing everyday. I want them to enjoy their rooms and feel comfortable playing with their toys without the constant stressing of putting it all away. And who really cares of the room doesn’t look like a magazine photo. Life just isn’t that picturesque around here. I’m finally okay with that.
What do you do to help your kids clean their rooms?