Make cleaning fun for kids and easier for parents

October 18, 2020
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By Julie Short

Mansfield Record

When I was growing up, there were five of us kids. We lived in a tiny town and a tiny house with one bathroom for seven people to share. We converted the garage to make an additional bedroom, but still had only the one bathroom. But, love grows best in little houses, right! Believe it or not when you have a bigger space and a place for all your things it is easier to keep that space clean than a small space that you are trying to fit a lot in.

My mom always kept the house clean, but with that many kids in that space, if we each left just one or two things lying around it made the whole house look cluttered. My mom had this little trick to get us involved with the cleaning without it seeming like torture even to my brothers.

We did a little thing called the “10 Minute Blitz.” My mom would get us all together and set the timer for 10 minutes, reminding us of what a short amount of time that is. Everyone was supposed to clean and straighten for the entire 10 minutes with no potty breaks or drinks until the time was up. She promised if we worked diligently during the blitz then that is all we would have to do and not a minute more. So the time would begin and off we would go, putting away shoes, toys and laundry. We were wiping down counters, dusting, windows, mirrors, sweeping and vacuuming. When that timer went off ending our work, there were lots of whoops and clapping. At the end of the blitz, everyone would meet up again and report to mom what all we had accomplished. She would brag on us for a job well done and gush over how great everything looked. It was like a game for us kids. We had the competition of who could get more done and the desire to receive the kudos from mom. We also had the motivation of knowing that if we slacked off during the 10 minutes, she would add time and be very disappointed. Just think about it, six of us working for 10 minutes is equal to a solid hour of cleaning! I believe this game helped me look at housework in a different way. It made me see it could be fun and rewarding and it didn’t have to be a huge daunting task.

Getting your family involved will definitely make things easier on you and there is a benefit for them as well. Letting them know that you are all a team and it takes all of you to be successful sounds good until they realize it means real work for them. Reality stinks sometimes. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you, it just means we all tend to look out for our own interest and they just aren’t that interested in a clean house. I am not opposed to allowance for helping with chores but each person picking up after themselves is something they should do without being paid. Your children also need to know that the less time you have to spend on the house, the more time you will have to play with them, help them with projects or take trips. Your husband might be a little more helpful if he realizes how much you appreciate him helping you make the bed or clear the table. Telling him how much you appreciate his help instead of “It’s about time you started doing something around here!” will ensure that you get more help more often. He will also start to notice that you have some extra time to sit with him on the couch and that you aren’t so completely worn out when it’s time for bed.

Getting everyone involved in the “top to bottom” cleaning can be a great way to make the family aware that some changes are being made and make it a positive thing. If everyone gets involved, you could set aside a Saturday for the big clean and promise a night out at the movies as a reward. This will give everyone ownership in the clean house and help the want to keep it that way in minutes a day.

Simple acts such as loading your dishes as soon as you are finished eating, instead of just setting them in the sink, really make a big difference with very little effort. You are already handling the dish so take the extra five seconds to put it in the dishwasher. This also works for taking off your dirty clothes and throwing them in the hamper instead of on the floor. Take them off near the hamper and you won’t have to even think about it as being an extra step. Make it easy and make it handy to be neat.

Also, your version of clean and your kids’ version of clean probably differ vastly. When you ask if their room is clean and you get a cheerful “Yes!” you might want to specify “Is it my version of clean?”

Teach your kids this simple step. Before you leave a room, simply turn around and look. Is everything in place?

Julie Short has been married to her husband, Stoney, since 1997. She is currently working on a series of books known as Julie’s Simple Solutions. She is a Mansfield resident, business owner and member of the Mansfield City Council.

Find her book “Cleaning Your House in Minutes a Day” at https://www.amazon.com/Cleaning-Your-House-Minutes-Day/dp/1949563103

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