I am the kind of mom who can’t think straight if the house is too disorganized. I live by the mantra, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” As much as I’ve tried to save cleaning up for nap time and bedtime, we have to tidy up more than twice per day.
Now I could take on these tasks solo… or I could train my sons to participate. Here’s why I’ve chosen to get my kids involved with household chores.
For starters, there’s the kitchen. We’ve all seen the memes and Twitter jokes about how you have to clean it whether you cook or order out, and I can confirm this is true in our home. No matter if you eat leftovers, make dinner from scratch, or get something as easy to order as Life Alive, you have to clean the sink, take out the garbage, or sweep the floors. Not to mention putting away and rearranging your fridge to fit your newly created or delivered foods.
To help with these little kitchen chores, I’ve enlisted my 3-year-old, Lucas. He loves to put the dishes in the dishwasher or sink. He loves using the sponge to wipe down the tables. He loves cleaning, and he knows how much I love cleaning. Isaiah will be 2 in a few months and mostly wants to eat the adjustable faucet, but on occasion he’s more helpful than destructive.
Then there’s the living room. Our boys share a bedroom, but they play in the living room most of the day. I have a “we can only dump out one gigantic tote at a time” rule, but the 200 Mega Bloks somehow don’t seem to count. They get poured out alongside the cars and trucks to make cities and robots all over the house. Depending on the day, it’s the kind of toy you can shuffle to the side or pick up countless times a day. My kids are beginning to understand that when too many toys are out, that means they need to help with tidying up.
Does it slow me down to have their help in cleaning up? Of course it does! The kids are easily distracted and make more of a mess than they clean. But they’re trying! And I want them to keep trying until it’s just a regular part of their life.
I will admit that teaching my kids to clean up after themselves at this age often feels futile. However, on the days when the little ones put their dishes in the sink after lunch or pick up toys and chuck them into a bin instead of across the room, I know it will add up to two responsible little people. Or at least they’ll still have these minor skills to build from in their 20s when they finally move out — fingers crossed.