Cleaning Revolution

My husband says I am finally at his parenting level.

I have had a major revelation when it comes to picking up the toys around our house. A revelation he swears he had before our oldest son was even born.

I just rolled my eyes at him and told him he could pick up all of our toys if he is so superior. But since he is gone 80 percent of each day at work, that isn’t very realistic.

So, I am glad I have stumbled upon parenting genius.

I think I have finally figured out how to get my boys to help clean up their toys! I have realized something so simple, something that you, like my husband, have probably done from day one.

I am now making my children put away one set of toys before moving on to the next. A novel idea I know, but it is working wonders for my pick-up-all-the-toys-all-the-time anxiety.

I used to let my boys dump out whatever they wanted. Sometimes, OK a lot of the times, I would follow them around like I was part of the help picking up what they dumped or dropped. But my efforts were futile. They would storm through the house making mountains of mess that none of us felt like picking up at bedtime. We were tired, overwhelmed and unmotivated.

We live by storage bins at our house. We have a bin for Legos, trucks, Tinker Toys, dinosaurs, super heroes, etc.

The new routine is that they have to pick up their toys and put them in their bin when they are done with them, BEFORE moving to the next bin of toys. If they want to play super heroes then that’s fine with me. As long as all of the other bins are picked up and put away.

I have an 81-year-old neighbor who I visit on a regular basis who told me several years ago that she taught her kids to pick up and put away one thing before moving to the next.

I shrugged her master parenting skills off thinking that they were outdated and unhelpful. Boy was I wrong. I wish I would listen to people.

I haven’t exactly told my kids that we have a new pick-up-one-thing-before-starting-on-the-next rule. I’ve just been enforcing that kind of behavior and they are following naturally.

The best part is they are motivated to put stuff away because they want to get something else out. It’s amazing!

Like I said, many of you have probably already been living like this for a long time. So I want to know what other tricks you have for soliciting your children’s cleaning help. This mom could use all the help she can get!

Helping Hands

Whoever said that many hands make light work has never tried to complete simple household chores with a 2 and 4 year old.

A while ago I asked my kids if they felt “strong” enough to help me rip the sheets off of my bed. Oh they felt strong enough all right. I left my room for less than 30 seconds to grab a new set of sheets from my bathroom only to return to two ghost-like shapes poking from under my mattress cover.

They had crawled under the bottom-most sheet and were using it as a tent.

I read somewhere when I was a brand new mom that you should rest when your child rests, eat when they eat, sleep when they sleep, etc. Well, I have tried to take that advice but it’s too hard for me. If I do that, not only do I leave out any extra time for myself, but I leave out any cleaning time. So, I took another approach and decided to enlist their help while cleaning.

I don’t know if that was a good decision. Sometimes my boys are too “helpful.”

You should see me try to clean our fish tank with their help. One of them helps scrape algae off the glass while the other holds the siphoning hose’s end in to the water bucket. Not only do we end up nearly killing Nemo, but inevitably the hose gets dropped and we splash water all over the wall, ceiling, floor and ourselves as we try to suck the tanks rocks clean.

How many of you have tried to clean your bathroom with your young kids’ help? No matter how many times I tell my 2-year-old to stand back while I’m using bleach cleaner on the bathtub, he still ends up with a bleached out streak across his clothes near his tummy. The curiosity is too much for him and he has to lean over the ceramic edge.

Dusting is also pretty fun for us. My boys fight about who gets to be the “sprayer.” Then whoever wins that battle usually wastes half the bottle of furniture polish because he likes the way it foams. My shelves definitely get shiny. Just don’t hop quickly onto our piano bench on any day we’ve dusted. You’ll launch yourself across the room.

Vacuuming has got to be one of the hardest chores to get done with their “help.” They both love it so they fight, scream and yell for their “turn.” That’s one chore I wish I could do while they were sleeping.

I don’t know what the answer is. I could clean after they went to bed but then they wouldn’t learn how to help. They really would think a fairy came in the night to clean things up.

I think it’s good to have their help. It’s good to teach them how to do chores. I just have to make sure to clean on days that I have a lot of patience saved up. For many times their helpful cleaning leads to more messes. Maybe they have the saying wrong, it’s not that many hands make light work but its many helpful hands make light work.

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