House Cleaning 101….With Kids!


I’ve been staring at a pile of clean clothes sitting on my chaise for about a week now. Say it with me, “I’ve been staring at a pile of clean clothes sitting on my chaise for about a week now”. *sigh* I want that pile of clothes to magically fold itself and place itself neatly in my drawers.
I’m not lazy. I just don’t want to do it. But when I wake up in the morning, I say “imma get these clothes today”. Yet by noon, I’m sifting through them, to find something to put on.
My house is sprinkled with “Imma get these…”. And while I have good intentions to “get to” those small disaster areas, I fail. Then that makes me annoyed. I get mad at the clothes. How do you get mad at a pile of clothes.
Luckily it’s just my clothes. We used to have MOUNDS of everyone’s clothes in the family room. Clean and ready for wearing. And after a day or two of sifting thru them to find items to wear, we’d hunker down and fold them. It took HOURS to fold and put away these clothes. And all were included in the massive wash and fold activity. I hated it! Then I started making the kids wash their own clothes in one setting:
Bring their clothes down to the laundry roomWash/Dry clothesTake them back up to your room
Life’s been sooooo much easier. Now I had to figure out how to implement this behavior into other household chores. I realized I didn’t have to “get to” everything myself. Especially when I wasn’t the one making all the mess (my clothes are still MY issue). So I created a few processes that has helped me tremendously.
Now Let’s Get in Formation!
Science tells us that habit formation is when new behaviors or patterns of behavior gradually become automatic. While it’s hard to create new habits, it’s not impossible. Our body is able to create neural pathways of patterns that we repeat often, thus creating new habits! Well looky looky, my degree in Human Behavior is being used ON TODAY!! My 6 year old comes home from Kindergarten and immediately drops her bookbag in the foyer. She doesn’t even attempt to put it any where else. This irked the entire hell out of me. It was like she was saying “I’ve arrived servant. Pick up my things and carry them up to my room. And where is dinner?” So, every day as she was walking into the house, I’d gently tell her to put her things upstairs in her room. It took a few weeks, but it’s now a habit. When she walks in the door, she goes straight up stairs. Then comes down and asks for dinner. LOL! But she wasn’t the only one. Everyone in the family, including me, had become accustomed to laying things on the kitchen table, or throwing something into the family room once we came in the house. So, I’ve started demanding that everyone take their stuff upstairs when they come in. I’ve started doing this for a lot of things. And while I know people are scoffing at me saying “They should have been doing this anyway, blah blah blah”…well they weren’t and now I’m correcting it.
You Gotta Pay to Play
I used to hate doing dishes. HATE IT!! But as I got older, and realized no one was cleaning up after my trifling ass (Thanks mom!!), I didn’t hate them as much. I went from not caring if there was a dish in the sink, to wanting the sink empty and wiped down before bed. My mom always ended the night with a clean kitchen, and I remember as a child hearing the hum of the dishwasher when everyone went to bed. Once the kids got old enough to do it without me standing over them like a hawk, I told them they’d have to make sure the kitchen was cleaned before they went to bed. Dishes cleaned, floors swept and counters wiped down. Some days they’d do it without me yelling, other days they’d have to hear my mouth before they got it together. The funniest times are when they are all set to get in the bed, come to kiss me goodnight and I whisper in their ear “did ya’ll clean that kitchen”…to which they respond “we’re about to do that now”….. LIES, but what ever, as long as it’s getting done.
I created a calendar and would place a check mark or an X next to the days that they did or didn’t clean the kitchen. I was tired of requesting. They weren’t forming this habit. They are a very resistant breed. At the end of the week, I’d use some weird algorithm, which really had to no rhyme or reason, and determined if they owed me money. Yep! That’s right OWED me money. It could be one X for the week or three X’s for the week. And I don’t give them allowance, so this isn’t money they would necessarily earn back the next week. Once I started hitting their pockets, they took cleaning the kitchen a little more seriously.
Another Man’s Treasure
Our family has accumulated a lot of things and clothes over the years. And we usually do an annual purge of things we no longer want or need. I don’t buy toys for the kids. Their grandparents usually spoil them. May sound mean, but I just didn’t see the need. Now I will buy them arts and crafts supplies and things of that nature. But toys and dolls outside of Christmas isn’t happening on my dime. Yet they still have a playroom FILLED with toys, plus their rooms are full of toys.
We’ve had yard sales to get rid of it, and then what doesn’t sell we take to GoodWill. This helps a lot, especially since it helps create room to put stuff away. Like clothes!
Say Yes!
When it’s all said and done, and you’re not living like a hoarder, just say yes it’s going to get cleaned, but just not right now. I have a newborn, 3 other children, my husband, a fulltime job, plus a massage therapy business that is a store front business in a shopping center. I’m BUSY. Like legit, when do you sleep, eat and pee kind of busy. So sometimes, I just need to accept the fact that my house will NEVER be pristine unless I am about to have a big event at my house, or when the kids leave. I’ve tried. The only time our house stayed immaculate for longer than a day was when they were all in Philly with their great grandmother. But it is, what it is. We do the basics, but I’m too damn tired to be wiping baseboards or window ledges. I’d LOVE to have a cleaning person come at least once a month to handle those things, but it’s not in the budget just yet.
I’d also like to point out, you’re NOT the only person living like this. I thought we were the outlier’s, until I’d go to different friends’ homes, when they weren’t having an event, and realized their house had the same affliction….kids. I saw dishes in the sink. Clean clothes at the end of their bed. LOL! I found some weird comfort in their mess.
So don’t beat yourself up! Do the best you can! And if someone comes in your house and says something about your mess, tell them to kiss your ass and get the hell out of your house! You don’t need those kind of friends.

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