- It helps to make a list of everything you wish could be done to keep your house clean. Take several days to really think it through, writing down every job, from the simple things like wiping the toilet to the larger, seasonal jobs like cleaning the walls. Next, take your list and decide when you’ll actually accomplish each task – daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, or annually. You can find an exhaustive list in the book, Home Comforts, by Cheryl Mendelson.
- Decide who will do each chore. Be sure to include your children. They need to learn responsibility and life skills, but it’s also good for their hearts to help their family members with a good attitude. Use a chore chart so there is no confusion about jobs.
- You will have to be consistently “tough” when establishing new cleaning habits. If you’ll require each person to make his bed as soon as wakes up, for instance, it will soon become as natural as brushing his teeth. Until then, though, it’s up to you to be sure all jobs are done.
- Make your bed as soon as you get up. If you start your day with this simple chore, you’ll be more likely to keep the rest of the house clean, too.
- Put all the dirty clothes into hampers as soon as you take them off, rather than throwing them on the floor or in a closet. If you’ll sort your clothes immediately, you’ll save time.
- Wipe the bathroom counters, sinks, and toilet every day when you take your shower.
- Get in the habit of cleaning up the kitchen immediately after each meal, so that dirty dishes don’t pile up. Wipe the table, countertops, and stove right away, too. You’ll be discouraged if you procrastinate, because all the mess will harden and be much more difficult to clean later. Never, ever go to bed with a messy kitchen!
- Vacuum and sweep high-traffic areas every day. Pay special attention to areas around the doors and eating areas.
- Only touch a piece of mail once, immediately sorting it into categories such as “bills,” “to do,” or even right into the trash can.
- Require your children to clean up their toys before playing with something new. Small messes are much easier to put away than large messes.
- Set rules about where family members eat. Only eating in the kitchen or dining room will save your furniture, carpet, and walls from stains, crumbs, crease, bad smells, and pests. Help your children learn that preventing a mess is a way to show love to the owner of a home.
- I like to thoroughly clean my home one day per week. Others prefer to divide all their household chores over six days, so that they only have to do a little each day.
- On “Cleaning Day,” divide the chores among all the family members, and spend time cleaning together. Work is always more pleasant when shared.
- Have supplies handy on each level of your home, so that you don’t have to climb stairs to get a rag, spray bottle, or dust pan. Wear an apron while you clean, so you can put stray toys in the pockets or carry some supplies with you.
- Clean in an orderly way around the room, from left to right, or from high to low (to knock dust down).
- Race yourself, and clean as quickly and efficiently as possible.
- When a room is done, spray essential oils into the air, light a candle, or put a flower into a vase, to give you a “well done” feeling.
- Choose one room each month to completely organize and clean. Spend some periods of time throughout the month, and by the end, it will look great.
- Have a designated box or plastic container for giving things away, to help you continually simplify. As soon as you realize something is too worn out to keep, throw it away immediately. If you no longer need it, put it in the “Give Away” box right away. If you aren’t using it but are sure you’ll use it later, put it in the attic or garage right away.
- We deep clean our home before major holidays, such as Passover or the Feast of Tabernacles. It’s especially fun at Passover to look in every corner and under every bed for dirt and leaven.
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Ok, so I’ve seen the whole “put one toy away before you get another one out” advice ever since my oldest (twins) were toddlers, but as in so many things, my kids didn’t “read the book” on how they’re supposed to do things. Their play is more . . . dynamic than that. They don’t sit and play with just one thing and then they’re done with it. More realistically, A will get the blocks out and be building, then L and S will come join her, but then L will get tired of the blocks and go play with the puppets, A will think that looks fun and join her with teh puppets but S is still playing with the blocks. . . so A got the blocks out, but it’s not fair to S for A to decide to put the blocks away when SHE is done, since S is still playing with it. But OTOH it’s not fair to S to have to clean up the WHOLE blocks mess just because she happened to be the last to play with them.
In another typical scenario they might be playing with plastic animals and decide to get the blocks out to build a zoo for the animals, and then go get the dollhouse people and bring them to visit the zoo which then makes them think it would be better to have a castle, so then they go get the playsilks to be roofs and lakes and such and . . . so there are several different types of toys out but they’re all being used TOGETHER.
Is this just my kids? It just seems like their play is too multi-faceted to try to say “put one thing away before you get another one out” it seems more practical and fair to all involved to let their play meander wherever their creativity takes it and then have everyone pitch in together to put everything away when playtime is over.
Tressy Hart says
Your kids are normal and very creative. A better plan is for all of the kids to put away the toys when playtime is over. That can be when you decide or when it is time for food/naps/bedtime/etc. Make it another game where they “race the clock” to see who can clean up their section before the bell rings or some other fun way to make it not a chore to any one child, but just another part of the daily routine.
Sweetpeas you are not alone! My girls also combine many toys in their imaginative play –it’s on those days that I just decide that I won’t be crazy over toys all over the place!! And now that I think about it, it’s on those days that they actually clean up after themselves and are the most organized. It seems like they jump from toy to toy and never really get involved in any kind of creative play when they’re limited to one toy…..which leads to us all being a little nuts!!
Anne– lots of great ideas! As a mom of two young girls I have also been training them to form habits like the daily cleaning chores (in particular) so it will be natural for them when they one day have their own families and homes. Thank you for sharing what God puts on your heart!
An acquaintance popped in when my 3 oldest boys where young to brag how she was now keeping her home perfectly clean and free of toys. Of course at that moment my house looked like a Toy’s R Us had just vomited. She had learned from her child’s progressive school to keep each type of toy in a clear shoebox. Than each child had a carpet square that they were allowed to play with one box of toys at a time on. She had now instituted this at her home and it was working wonderfully. I thought about it and even went out and bought a bunch of plastic shoe boxes and a small bookcase. I sorted all of the toys into various sizes of shoe boxes and attached pictures of what went into the boxes. It did make finding the toys MUCH easier. However as for only taking out one type of toy? That didn’t work. I also decided that I didn’t want it to work. If it did than we never would have learned that Lego’s and K’Nex’s fit together and make REALLY cool things! Or that it is MAJOR fun to sit up battles with green army men and than use marbles and one block Lego’s to take each other out? I’ve decided that having toy’s around the house is a small price for letting the kids be creative. However, taking care of said toys before building a fort or taking care of the fort before doing a craft doesn’t interfere with creativity.
Anne Elliott says
Sweetpeas, I’m so glad you brought this up. I think I should have probably worded this, “One activity at a time.” My kids make great big messes, too, and you’re all right, that this is just how children play and use their imaginations better.
When my older kids were little, I would have let them continue on playing like this for days and days, because I didn’t have the heart to make them clean it up, because they were having so much fun. Finally the mess would be overwhelming, and then it was NOT fun to put it away. My husband wisely told us to start cleaning up every day, even a couple times a day. Not only does it make the chore more pleasant, but when the playing slate gets wiped clean, we’ve seen their imaginations improve, too.
This is what I love about comments on a blog… Thank you, EVERYONE, for all your great advice!
Interesting post and comments. I think I’ll probably order ‘Home Comforts, by Cheryl Mendelson’ this evening. I’m convinced of the merits of organized regular cleaning, but it’s my other half and the children I’ve got to convince!
I have seen different people clean different ways. Once a week, at night after kids go to bed, or every day. We have a bigger family and have farm style life so things get dirty AND messy. I certainly don’t have the energy to clean after kids go to bed, nor do I think it’s good for them. My kids make much less mess when they realize what it takes to clean it up. Also I always say “we can fix our mistake” or “we can make this better”. I hope these words ring in their heads so they never feel defeat and always strive for the best.
Anyways, I do a specific task (and each kid has a task) each day of the week. Then before Shabbat everything gets done again but it’s much much easier and faster.
I’m trying to be better about tackling certain jobs Together! Gathering hands and enjoying the friendly conversation. It’s getting easier as I practice and as my kids get older. My MIL is really excellent at that so I try to steal little snippets from her. Just folding a couch blanket to put away becomes fun. It’s totally not necessary to grab a 3 or 5 year old to hold the other ends of the small blanket and it does take longer, but it’s FUN!
Thank you! These are great ideas!