I’ve stumbled headfirst into Awesome. It’s a clean house. Not spotless like my OCD neighbors (you know who you are), but pretty orderly.
My secret is chores.
I hear parents say all the time that they can’t keep up with their kids’ messes. But, they don’t make these same children clean them. Why? “Because it’s easier to clean myself than to make them do it.”
No it’s not. Sure, at first it might seem easier to avoid the whining and the screaming and tantrum throwing. And of course, they suck at actually cleaning in the beginning.
But eventually they get it.
I have a triple-pronged system for chores.
1. Chores are punitive. Meaning, if you do something lame that’s against house rules or simply isn’t how you know you should behave you get a chore. This is a win-win for me. I get a clean house and obedient children out of the deal.
2. One major chore per day. This could be vacuuming a level in our house, cleaning one of the bathrooms, washing windows, wiping down walls, sweeping, mowing the yard, sweeping the kitchen, whatever. My six-year-old can do all of these chores, quite well.
3. Extra hard chores for a couple of bucks. Sometimes I just have money burning a hole in my pocket and I can’t wait to give away a couple of bucks. Sometimes I’m just feeling generous and happy and will pay a kid to do something I don’t want to do. It happens. It can not be depended on.
I know some people think it’s cruel to make their children work. This is just stupid. Kids have never been lazier than anytime in history. My grandmother woke up at 4 am to help her mother go milk cows. She worked like a man picking cotton fields and washed 16 people’s clothes by hand. My dad ran a farm while his dad worked a fulltime job, while he was still a kid.
Learning to work is good. Cleaning is a good habit.
Try my three-pronged approach to a clean house. It’s awesome.