calling all mothers of little kids!

i'm about to tell you something revolutionary.

something you've probably already heard before, but don't totally believe.

get this...your kids can be USEFUL to you in your house cleaning routine!  and not in a, 'oh, look how cute he is, with his kid-sized and useless broom and that rag that he's flinging around at stuff!  that'll come in handy someday' kind of way.  but in a real, live, 'my three year old vacuumed under the table so i don't have to now' kind of way.

i admit, i'm new to the revolution.  i was only driven here because i was desperate.  i had too much to do, and not enough time in which to do it, and i considered hiring a cleaning lady until i thought about actually having to pay her, so then i was like, 'who do i know who would do this for free?'


and though i was driven to the point of 'employing' my two oldest (ages three and five) out of desperation, i'm all aboard the free-labor train now. (well... i guess when you put it that way, i'm probably not all aboard.  but that's neither here nor there.)  and here's why:

1. it actually helps.

selfishly, this is my first priority.  i need the dishwasher unloaded, and i need the rugs vacuumed, and i need the living room dusted and the bathroom wiped down and the kids' toy bins organized and the floor mopped.  so you know what i've done? delegated.  three jobs are happening at once when we're all working, instead of just one.  and after just a month of teaching the kids to whistle while they work, they are passingly proficient at the following:

..vacuuming the kitchen and dining room rugs with a lightweight stick vac. (i keep the heavy-duty vac jobs for myself.)  i just tell them to aim for the chunks of old food that are inevitably laying around.

..mopping the kitchen and bathroom.  is it perfect? no. but mopping gets done once a week, instead of once every couple of months (gross, i know, but true), so even a poor job is a step up.

..wiping down the bathroom counter and scrubbing the toilet.  (under the guise of 'showing them how,' i always clean everything first, then respray everything and let them have a go at it.  so it's not actually saving me any work right now, but it will eventually.  i hope.  and btdubs, i have them use a homemade, nontoxic vinegar cleaning solution.)

..unloading the plates, bowls and silverware from the dishwasher.  one kid stands on a stool by the cupboard while the other hands him/her dishes to put away.  they take turns.  nothing has broken yet, but even if it does, it's all replaceable.

..dusting.  i have a feather duster, and they love this job.  i show them how to use long, sweeping motions with it, instead of piddly little flips, and let them have at it.  they usually pretend they're painting. their own room.  every week they pull out all the toy bins out from under their bed and out of their closet, and make sure everything is in its proper box.  it keeps me from having to do a deep-clean/organize later on (which took me two and a half uninterrupted hours last time.)  we have limited toys, but even still, this takes them around an hour.  better them than me, especially since they are the ones causing the catastrophe in the first place.

(these are in addition to their daily/regular chores, like helping to set and clear the table, putting their dirty laundry down the laundry chute, and putting their clean laundry away.)

2. it teaches them responsibility.

they like knowing they're contributing members of the family, and it teaches them skills they're going to have to learn eventually anyway.  they don't get allowance or anything; that might come when they're older and they can have the option of doing more specialized or unusual jobs, but i'm not into the idea of paying them to do what a productive, considerate, contributing member of any family could be expected to do.  plus, what's a three year old going to do with allowance?

3. it keeps them occupied while i'm cleaning so that they're not off destroying the place in the meantime.

anything that keeps kids from making a mess while you're off cleaning a different mess is key to actually getting anything clean.

4. they like it.

so far, they still have fun.  they know that when monday rolls around, they get to help, and pretend to paint, and follow up their hard work with a movie (frequently with popcorn for lunch!).  what's not to love about that?

anyway.  i'm just throwing this out there, because i know it's easy to think that it's just easier for you to do it yourself, or that they're not old enough to do some of this stuff, but neither of those are the case.  (i keep hearing that 'yo gabba gabba' song, 'try it!  you'll like it!  try it!  you're gonna like it!')


Heather said...

Here's one you can add, Paige - using your vinegar water mixture, have them wipe around the light switches, door handles, cupboards, and baseboards. My kids loved doing that when they were little, and it was one of those cleaning tasks that got overlooked way too often.

I have struggled with delegating tasks to my kids because it takes longer to teach them the first several times than if I just did it myself. But I've learned over the years that it saves time in the long run and teaches them very valuable skills that they'll need later in life... unless they're aiming to star in Hoarders or something.

todd said...

These are two things in which I have seen you grow in leaps and strides lately.
Proverbs 31:26-27
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom
and loving instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the activities of her household
and is never idle.

the jersk. said...

you are a smartie. yes yes.

Angie Mowery said...

Paige, I think it's fantastic that you are teaching your kids to help clean & help around the house. My Mom had me help when I was little as well which provided me with useful lifelong skills early in life. On a side note which you may find helpful(or can ignore)as it was for me when I was little is we kept the plates & bowls in a low cupboard so I didn't have to keep jumping on the counter or using a stool. Now I know this might not work well for you because of the littles but maybe with a cupboard lock... just trying to be helpful. It might make setting the table easier for them as well.

Kudos to Todd for his encouragement as well.