Thursday, September 8, 2011

Clean Rooms

Robyn asked about how I get my kids to clean their rooms. I had a few thoughts to share on this topic so here they are.

First, while I really life a clean house, I am not a super clean person. So I just don't want you all to have the impression that my house is always in order. Anyone who has just "dropped by" my house knows better. That being said, a clean house does put me more at peace and so I do try to have certain parts of my house clean at least at one point everyday.

I also have cleaning ladies who come and do a deep clean on my house once a week. I just would never get to all the floors and base boards and dusting etc. without them. This is a real treat for me because I love a clean house and it makes me much less grumpy when a kid spills juice on the floor because it wasn't like I just mopped.

I kept my cleaning ladies a secret from my kids for almost 2 years. I have had cleaning ladies come on and off over the last 7 years. When the kids knew about it they got all entitled and wouldn't pick stuff up. So this last time I kept it a secret. I told the kids they had to clean up the night before and then when they came home from school and complimented how the nice the house looked, I said, "Thank you. I worked really hard today." That was technically true since I work with the cleaning ladies to get the house clean. If they ever saw the cleaning ladies I told them they were my friends that were coming to help me clean. Also technically true.

This summer my technicalities were exposed. It was too hard to keep my little secret. Luckily in the last 2 years my kids have gotten conditioned to clean up well prior to the cleaning ladies coming that they no longer have that entitlement issue.

The point of all that is to say that our house gets really well cleaned once a week. And the night before the cleaning ladies come, my kids pick up the whole house. Sometimes I help. Sometimes I am too busy with boys to help. Sometimes they do it with cheer. Most times they do it to get it over with. And there are still times when it is a fight and there are tears.

In the earlier days there were MUCH more tears and MUCH more yelling and threatening. Now I think the kids just know that I will make them do it so they just do it. I also try to compliment them lots on being good cleaners and give them incentives and make games. Those things work really well for some of my kids. Or I give them a section of the house to make clean or a time limit of what has to be done in a certain amount of time or a certain number of things they have to get picked up.

I think it is always more pleasant to work in anticipation of some reward after. Also, because we have the whole place cleaned weekly, it never gets THAT dirty so the chores are not as big a deal. We also clean bedrooms every morning and the kitchen and family room every night so those rooms stay pretty clean. It is way easier to get a kid to pick up 5 things off the floor than a whole room covered in junk.

I also don't keep their toys in their rooms. They have a play room where all the toys (except the baby toys) go. This is usually the messiest room in the house. I don't even go in this room or require it to be clean until the night before the cleaning ladies come. My kids have gotten pretty quick at cleaning it up. Even when it is really messy they can get it clean in under 10 minutes. (not that everything is in the "right" place but...)

Once in while (maybe once a year) I go in and sort everything out in that room and organize the toys. There are several "junky" areas on my house that I include in this yearly organizing.

I guess the thing I wanted to stress the most is that you just have to keep at it. It is a "hard thing" and it takes a lot of patience on our part, but if we just stick to it and train our kids even through the tears, eventually it gets easier. At least that has been my experience. Granted I don't have teenagers yet. That may be a whole new ball of wax.

What has worked for any of you out there? Got any new cleaning games to share? I am always looking for new ones.