In January we're concentrating on the habit of making good routines, and I know many of us, myself included struggle with managing cleaning routines. We know we could accomplish more if things were organized, but how do we do that with kids constantly under foot? We'd love for our family to help us with housework, but how do we get them involved?
Interview with Stephanie Morgan
I asked Stephanie Morgan, editor and founder of Modern Parents Messy Kids, about these problems. She's a mom to two young kids and I wanted to to find out how she manages to have kid friendly cleaning routines. Stephanie just published her e-book Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life which she's written based on a year long project and support group that originated on her blog and I appreciate her down-to-earth, doable advice.
Don't be fooled by the lofty title, as you'll see from the excerpts below, she is realistic and practical.
Hi Stephanie, I'm enjoying your book. It's refreshing to read an organizing book and not feel overwhelmed by it. Instead I feel inspired. You give me hope! I've got a couple questions today.
First off, where do you start when it seems like everything from laundry to decluttering needs to happen right now, plus you have kids to care for who don't stop needing food or attention just because you need to clean. Is there a part of the routine that's most important?
Let me start by saying thanks so much to you and your readers for having me today. It's true keeping up with everything can be hugely overwhelming, especially when kids are in the mix! In the book I talk a lot about building simple habits into your everyday life to help things run smoothly. And we cover areas from managing the to-do list to creating a complete cleaning schedule.
For our family, there were three things that most impacted our daily lives – weekly meal planning, daily tidying up, and keeping the toys from invading the house. Of course I go into lots of detail on each of these things in the book, but here's a sneak peek at some of the tips from the section on daily cleaning maintenance:
I'm not always great at completing my daily routine, but I've found that having one really helps. Here are some of the things I attempt to incorporate into my day:
• Wipe down the kitchen and bathrooms whenever I'm in there. I use hydrogen peroxide wipes from Clorox (but my goal is to soon make and use DIY reusable wipes) to give the sink, counters, and even the tub and toilet a quick wipe down. I also give the toilet bowl a quick swish whenever I have time. I use the hydrogen peroxide wipes because they're safer and bleach wipes may not be the best bet for killing germs.
Keep the dishes and kitchen sink clean. I unload or load the dishes as needed whenever the kids are eating. It's just easier to do when they're contained (although my 4-year-old has started doing the silverware).
For some, keeping the sink clean is a problem. I just lived far too long without a garbage disposal or a dishwasher as a grad student. The thought of what I would face when I let the dishes pile up back then still gives me nightmares.
I try not to let the toy clutter get out of control. I'm not a stickler, but once the kids have played with, and moved on from, two or three toys, they need to pick them up before getting anything else out.
Once the kids are in bed, I take 10-15 minutes to straighten up, make sure the dishes are done, and wipe down the kitchen. I do this mostly because I can't really relax unless at least that much is done, and I think the kids' play is more productive in a picked up (if not squeaky clean) house.
As I said, I try to do laundry once a day, so that means I will usually throw in a load in the morning, transfer it to the dryer at lunchtime, and fold and put it away during nap time. (More on laundry in a bit.)
Consider incorporating a monthly or bi- monthly deep clean into your life if for no other reason than it will allow you to let yourself off the hook a little the rest of the month because you know it's coming.
Your scheduled deep cleans could last one day or be spread out over a week. POYEL member Shareen commented, “During the first week of each month, I spend a little extra time on deep cleaning, including washing sheets.”
Secondly I think it's really important for my kids to help with the housework, but how can I get them involved? It feels like it takes a ton of time to get them to do a chore and sometimes I just need to get something done. Yet if I don't teach them how to do the chore I'm stuck doing it and I'm stuck on a bad cycle of ME doing all the housework and feeling put upon and overwhelmed. How can I start routines that get kids involved with doing housework?
This is such a great question. I also believe it's important for our kids to help with the housework. Not only does it lessen our load a little, it teaches them important life skills. Here's some of what I wrote about the subject:
Get Everyone to Pitch In
A lot of readers pointed out that kids and spouses need to be involved in all of this as well, and I couldn't agree more. Since every family's demands and schedules are different, however, I'm not going to tell you how your family should do it.
Call a family meeting to lay out your plans, but don't be a dictator. Ask for everyone's input and get each family member to take on some self-imposed responsibilities.
The “resources” section at the end of this chapter contains more links on the topic of getting kids involved with the housework.
In the meantime, here's my favorite POYEL comment on the topic:
“My 5yo can help to sort laundry (and eventually he'll be able to do it alone). My older kids all have a day to do their own laundry… Because my husband is amazing, he taught each of the kids one or two dinners that they could make, and now if he or I aren't able to get dinner made, one of the kids will do it.”
If you have younger kids at home, we also did a great post last year, as part of Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life, on creating a special cleaning kit for your child. You can check it out here.
Hope that helps and thanks again for letting me visit!
Stephanie Morgan is momma to two toddlers and the founder and managing editor of Modern Parents Messy Kids (MPMK for short). MPMK provides daily inspiration to thousands of parents on simplifying, connecting, and living well.
Thank You Stephanie!
If you'd like to purchase a copy of Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life you can click on one of the links in this post and not only will you be able to download it right away, but also part of your purchase will support Creative with Kids, as I really like this book and have registered for Stephanie's affiliate program.
All images except the POYEL book cover are from Microsoft Clipart.