You have company coming this weekend and even though the house isn’t a complete mess, it still isn’t company ready. You told Child A to go clean the main bathroom and Child B to clean up the living room, while you head to the kitchen. An hour later you walk into the bathroom to check on Child A and find they have accomplished NOTHING, and Child B is sitting on the couch reading a book. This has happened to me more than once, and it drives me insane. My children have been old enough for a long time to complete chores without supervision, but for a while there it was a daily struggle. I would spend all of my time yelling at them not understanding why they couldn’t complete a task that in my mind was so simple.
Oh how I miss her wisdom.
It was after one session of being angry with my children for not living up the standard I set in my mind, that things started to change. In my usual way of doing things, I called my Grandma when I was frustrated. I asked her about how to get my children to do what I want them to do.
She asked one simple question “Do you know what you want them to do?” I responded that I wanted them to clean the assigned room.
She asked in her wisdom, “Have you taught them how to do it?” I told her that I had.
She asked the most important question, “How many times?” I told her I had once and that should be enough.
She then asked, “How many times has God told you things and you still make the mistakes and need to be reminded? Give them the same grace you want from God, Samantha. It is not only what you owe them, but will make all the difference in the world.”
Stealing a friend’s idea.
I remember visiting my friend Anna from Cluck and Strut and she had lists attached to her bathroom door. (What else are you supposed to look at while using someone’s bathroom?) I noticed it was a step by step on how to clean the bathroom. I had to ask Anna about it because it was so intriguing. She explained that her kids use it to know how to clean a room.
Making the list
I put Anna’s list on a clipboard and walked through each room in my house that my children were to clean. I marked out things I didn’t need and added things I thought were important to me. At first I hand wrote my lists out, but they were quickly destroyed. I tried typing them out and posting them on the wall, but not only did they get wet, but the kids would mark out what they had done and it would only last one session. Finally, I printed out a new one and put them in page protectors. I used clean packing tape to tape them to the door or wall. Now not only were they water proof, but my children could mark them up with dry erase markers as they completed each task. Finally, my rooms getting clean and my children were empowered. They knew what they needed to accomplish, but they knew Mama would be happy with them and their work.
This one thing has been a life changer in our house for getting chores done. This has been the one thing that has changed me from being a screaming mom to calm when it comes to chores. The was the birth of my favorite phrase…. Clean to the list.
Cleaning to the list
This has more than one wonderful aspect. When the child is sent to clean the room they can’t say they don’t know how to do it, because there is a list. If there is something on the list, they don’t understand then they know what to ask about. This gives you a list to go by when checking their work. I’m having enough trouble walking into a room trying to remember what I walked in there for let alone remember everything a child is supposed to clean in said room. Last, but certainly not least, it keeps mom accountable. I don’t know how many times I would start nit picking about things that were beyond what I told them to do. It wasn’t fair to them and it turned me into someone I didn’t like.
The accountability works like this. When the child with the assigned tasks comes and tells me they are done, I then ask them if they have cleaned to the list. Usually they go back and check one more time. When I’m given the ok, I go and check the room. Sometimes they miss something, but usually it is completed. If I see something that needs work, I will take the time to show them how to do it. The difference here is that when I’m teaching my children, I’m calm and pulled together. This becomes a lesson instead of a screaming Mama. Both my child and I walk away feeling good about what has been done. I have a clean room and know that my child has learned a valuable lesson about pride in a job well done.
Are you struggling with having your children clean the way you want them to clean? Are you not sure where to start when it comes to making your list? Here is my current How to Clean the Bathroom list. Use it as a starting point to create your own list, as mine will not necessarily work for you and your home.