I’m Not Your Maid, My Quest For Tidy Kids

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I’ve had it with cleaning up after these kids! One of the most soul-crushing parts of motherhood is being reduce to a roaming junkyard crawl. I am legit on a nightly prowl for all the mess my kids leave lying around the house. But I got up, from my night crawl, and put these kids to work. I figured they would be neater if they had to clean up. It is not easy to teach kids to tidy.  In fact, until I created a chore chart; we were all a mess. 

At one point, I thought I would gather all the CocoViv clutter and dump it in their bedroom, but then I realized they would not care. The girls would just step over or even on it. Jokes on you momma! So then I threatened “anything you leave around the house. I will take it.” Which, just lead to “moooom, where is my?”- All – the – time!

Then, I sanctioned screen time until all the CocoViv clutter was picked up from pretty much anywhere they have been in the house. Unfortunately, I found myself going back on my rule because I needed them out of my hair to get some work done. So, I caved and the girls ended up with screen time even though my house was still a mess.

Dammit, I thought, how can I make this work for the girls and me? 

So, how did I end the constant night crawl? And/or “What about your shoes? Pick up the socks too!” I reached out to the mom squad for a little mavens 101, and I got to work figuring out what works and does not work for my baby girls.

If they are old enough to sass, they are old enough to clean.

Make Chores Age Appropriate

My first steps, in teaching my kids to tidy (and before the chore chart could be done) was figuring out what the girls were capable of doing.  Which at that time (ages 6-7) I realized they could:

  • Sort laundry (fun for the kids)
  • Set and clear the table
  • Wipe and dust the table
  • Pick up clothes and toys 
  • Pull weeds and water garden/indoor plants
  • Help load dishwasher  
  • Help mommy Cook

The best way to make sure my kids complete chores is to make sure they can do the tasks. Therefore, I picked age-appropriate duties. As a result, I set the kiddos up for success and myself less aggravation. Currently, each of my girls has aged into chores for their age group and aptitude. 

Check out WebMD for a breakdown to guide you as you assign your kids chores.

Be Clear and Direct

In the past, I would tell my kids to clean up after themselves and keep their room’s neat. That was a colossal fail, in teaching my kids to tidy, because I was not direct. Saying “just clean up” usually meant that I needed to direct the girls to pick this and that up continually. Which I am sure annoyed them-it would annoy me.

So I gave clear direction. Further, I customized a list of chores and responsibilities for Vivi and Coco each. Then, I helped them with tasks the first couple of times (if needed). For example, I had to teach Vivi how to load the dishwasher, so bowls did not fill with water during the wash.

From Teach your Kids to Tidy

Be Patient

I remind myself to be patient from time to time. Kids need a little practice and guidance- Vivi with the dishes is an excellent example.

Other times, my kids purposely fail or half-assed their tasks. It is partly my bad. Previously, if the girls messed up enough, I would  take over. NO more. Now I patiently show them how to sweep onto the dust pan, not under the rug.  I tell them that I am sure they will get it and promise that we will work at it until it’s right. Eye rolls ensue, but we get it done…eventually. In being patient, you will keep yourself calm and let the kids know that they can’t play you. They must do their chores and do them right.

Gimme Ten

From the article Teach Kids to Tidy

Remember the mom squad?  Thanks to my cousin’s suggestion, I have a backup plan to reinforce everyone’s chores. Even though my girls are doing well with their chore charts (they enjoy checking stuff off their list), there are some days the girls don’t get everything done. On evenings that I looked around the house and noticed things were not put away, I tell the girls to gimme ten. They each pick up and put away ten cluttering items, it does not matter who used it last, just grab ten things.

Finally, when they are safely in bed (especially, the night before the housekeeper comes) I go around the house picking up all the missed Legos and Barbie boots.

It’s a process. I may not be my kids’ maid, but I am their momma. I am proud of their progress. Plus, I know the bigger picture in teaching them to tidy; I am teaching them to be responsible little people who will grow into responsible adults. At least that is what I tell myself as I sit back and sip a glass of rosé in the middle of my clutter-free living room.

Teach Your Kids to Tidy

Download a customizable chore chart for your family.

Mavens 101 Founder and a Robbins and Madanes trained strategic life coach this Maven always adds tools to each article. In addition, through strategic intervention coaching, Geneen guides clients through emotional blockage and areas of transition in their lives.  Geneen provides actionable tools and techniques for every woman to garner clarity and connection in their lives and relationships with self and others.  Ultimately, her clients move forward with mindfulness in order to meet goals.

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