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How Do I Clean in the Midst of These Kids?

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Women Living Well Blog: How Do I Clean in the Midst of These Kids?

Women Living Well Blog

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How Do I Clean in the Midst of These Kids?

I received a question last week in the comments section (warning this is long!):
Anonymous asked: "If I stay busy at home (which seems to be busy cleaning and organizing) what do my kids do? That is a huge area of guilt for me. I am ready to unplug the TV for good. I know I can rise earlier and be more efficient, but I feel as though I "ignore" my kids a lot of the time to clean the house constantly."

This is an excellent question and I have found this to be one of the greatest challenges as a mom with little ones. It's obvious that when we compare which is more important - cleaning vs. your children - that the children are more important - BUT I don't look at these two as mutually exclusive. Our goal as moms should not be to entertain our children and to coral them from one fun activity to the next. They need to fellowship in the daily activities of their parents. They need to feel like they are a part of what is happening in the home. They should find purpose, comfort, and joy at the side of their mother.

We must depend on God's strength in order to have the patience, endurance and organization that it takes to allow your children to be a part of your daily duties. Let me give you some examples of how I have accomplished these goals in my life - and remember I only have 2 children (which is easier than 3+). But I have learned these techniques from reading books by moms who have 5 to 18 children.

My children have helped me with laundry since they were 1 and 3. First, they help me carry all the baskets to the main room for sorting. We pour all the laundry into one HUGE pile. Then I crank up music and allow them to take turns jumping into the pile. They LOVE this! After about 5 minutes of fun (or chaos) we stop and begin to sort. My daughter is in charge of pulling out the reds. My son is in charge of all the whites. I do the rest. Once we have sorted the items we push the bins down the hallway, down the stairs and to the washing machine. Then they each get a high five and a nickel for their hard work!

Truthfully, it is much easier to do this myself - BUT this is a time of bonding - and giving them a sense of contribution and purpose. This takes their focus off of themselves and onto serving the family. When daddy comes home - I brag on their helpfulness and express how grateful I am for them. When they were 3 and 1 they were not very helpful. But now at 4 and 6 - they can do the ENTIRE task without me - And yes, it still would be faster for me to do it myself but they would be crushed if they knew that.

Another example: cooking. We all know that kids LOVE to get creative in the kitchen but it is SO difficult to have their little hands into everything! So - take a deep breath and pray for patience!!! Remember - you are bonding while teaching them a life skill. To avoid using the television as a way of managing them - I have collected as many Lego's as I can from every friend and garage sale I could find. We have four large baskets of Lego's that they are ONLY allowed to use in the kitchen when I am cooking. I have a rug that I assign them to and they are not allowed to leave it. I get them started building and they are extremely creative once they get going. Then as I cook, when there is something they can help with - I invite them one at a time to stand on a chair and help. We fellowship together as I make dinner. They help set the table or get to taste test things while building with Lego's - all while having order in the kitchen.

I continue this philosophy into cleaning bathrooms - they use paper towels and water (use a spray bottle) on everything and I let them clean anything they want to their hearts delight! Give them feather dusters to dust as you dust. Let them have a turn at the vacuum even if it's too heavy for them - help them - this is great fun for them! And soon they will be able to do it for you - yahoo! My son takes great delight in wrapping up the vacuum cord and I praise him for his contribution. You will find this mutually beneficial - as you fellowship and bond with your children in love and joy and as they find praise for doing something other than sitting quietly while watching Dora.

If you have a big task - like cleaning out a closet or filing papers - and a tot that is going to be WAY too difficult to have in the room (don't even try it) -break this task up into 20 minute intervals. And work on it - each night after the kids are down for bed. I will admit it is hard work to bring your children along side of you as you work - it takes time, sacrifice, organization and creativity. But I never have guilt after spending this time with the children - but I will admit to complete exhaustion! We reap what we sow (Galatians 6:9). Enjoy your children - watch their eyes light up as you praise them for their great dusting. Admire their strong muscles when they lift the laundry basket! There is no substitute for mommy's praise and delight - the television may be an easy short term solution - but remember - we reap what we sow.

Feel free to share in the comments section your thoughts or some ways you have found to bring your children along side as you clean. I'm always looking for more ideas! If you are a fellow blogger, feel free to write on this topic and leave your link in the comments section - I'd love to learn off of you!

Walk with the King!

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Blogger Regina Coblentz said...

These are some wonderful ideas. Thanks for sharing.

July 20, 2009 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Kari said...

You just helped me in a way that you will never know. Thanks. These are all concepts I know, but have gone away from. I use to let my daughter help with EVERYTHING, but now that she's four, I tend to be impatient and tell her 'mommy will just do it'. She LOVES to help, so I need to get back to our bonding time. You're right, we can't entertain them all day long. Great info!

July 20, 2009 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

This was a great post!! I struggle a lot with letting my children "help" vs. just getting it done already. ;)

July 20, 2009 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger joelle said...

I just discovered your blog through the mom blogger club and i love it. This post is great. I have been trying to do that at our house, not easy but worth it in the long run.I am a big fan of Elizabeth George as well. See you around.

July 20, 2009 at 11:57 AM  
Blogger Mamatoosi said...

I couldn't agree more! Awesome post. Parker loves to help me... of course he loves it more when I play with HIS toys with him, but we compromise. If he wants mommy time when I'm busy, I either have him help me or I set out a timer and play with him in small intervals between tasks.

July 21, 2009 at 12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for responding to my question. This summer has thrown me for a loop! Thankfully, there are so many Godly women in blogland sharing their wisdom with me. =) I am ready to get back to the joy of mothering. Thanks for the practical advice, but especially for the spiritual wisdom.

July 21, 2009 at 8:11 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Thorn said...

This is a great post. Like everyone else I really struggle with this. I have such a long list of things I need to get done in a day that it is easy to send my kids off to play while I do my work. I am slowly learning to let them help and not worry if it is not done perfectly (like sweeping the floor). Ugh, I have such a long way to go.

July 21, 2009 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger kimmy said...

Oh this is something that does not always come easily for me (just a few hours ago she was helping me sweep the kitchen floor with her little broom by sweeping away the dirt pile I just swept up!!ahhh! major patience is needed!!). I tend to do much like mamatoosi and just break up the time b/w work and play and do a little of both and then do my big cleaning while she's sleeping. However I want her to learn how to do things as well so I think this fall we will be much more focused on helping/learning. Dinner time is the worst for me. It seems to be a cranky time for her (2yrs old) and wants held while I'm trying to cook. So what I have started doing is putting her on the counter next to me by the sink and she helps by washing her hands and feet for dinner and then I put some utensils in there for her to wash off as I'm cooking. She thinks its great and water play is always fun for toddlers! This has really helped a ton some days!

July 21, 2009 at 12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My kids LOVE to help me clean and do stuff around the house. Thus far they clean the bathrooms (with cleaning wipes) they clean all the mirrors in the house (I do the spraying!) they sort almost all the laundry in the house and change the loads-I have a front loader, they also dust, make their beds (and sometimes mine!!), empty all the trash cans in the house and they're 6 and 4!!! Right now my 4 year old is getting clothes out to pack for vacation. Yes, they don't do it perfectly and yes, sometimes I loose patience with them but I realize they need to know how to do things and I need help with doing them!!! Love this post, thanks Courtney!

July 21, 2009 at 2:06 PM  
Blogger Courtney said...

Thank you all for your comments - I think we are all in the same boat together still learning how to balance the cleaning and the kids! The crazy part is by the time we figure this stuff out - they'll be all grown up!!! God uses our children to mature us. Keep up the hard work ladies - God is pleased with your heart for your home and children!

July 21, 2009 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Diana M. said...

Great post. Definitely one that I'll have to keep returning to to remind me of what I *should* be doing. :)

August 27, 2009 at 8:55 AM  
Anonymous said...

Courtney, I just recently watched you on Rachael Ray and just new you had a spirit about you that I needed to get to know. And wouldn't you know that I already knew that spirit. It was christianity...!! I have not been walking the straight path with our Lord and Saviour..I have strayed and have been looking for help and answers. My husband has been deployed for now going on 18 months and is due back anytime. I have struggled and have fallen into the "abyss". I love reading your blog and this particular one had helped me tremendouly with our 5 children! Thanks for sharing and walking with our Lord so that you can be an inspiration to others such as me..I needed it and God showed me! Thanks and Be Blessed!

November 17, 2009 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Young Wife said...

What a great post! I don't have children yet, but I'll soak up this bit of wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

December 10, 2009 at 10:51 PM  
Blogger Lady Jen said...

I love the Legos in the kitchen idea. Our computer is in the kitchen and my kids spend way too much time playing games. Their "computer time" during the baby's nap easilyly turns into a few hours if I'm not really diligent. Thanks for the post!

January 12, 2010 at 7:54 AM  
Blogger Debby said...

I just recently found your website when you commented on a post by Focus on the Family on FB. I have been so blessed by your blog and videos. This post was especially encouraging to me. My 3 yr. old loves to help with everything and it takes a lot of patience on my part, but it's fun and we have a great time working on things together. God bless you, Courtney!

April 9, 2010 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Pookie Pantz said...

Thank you so much for posting this, even if this is older :)
I struggle with letting my kids help. I like being able to get things done faster when I am doing it, but I do need to let the kids to help me. If I don't teach them now at 4 and 5, I am going to have struggles in the future LOL :)

April 30, 2010 at 9:32 AM  

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