It goes without saying that young children can bring a multitude of messes into your home. It does not take very long for your once tranquil surroundings to appear as if a category 3 hurricane just blew through your living room. This is often a source of unending frustration for many parents as they find it difficult to maintain full-time jobs, relationships, their home and perhaps most importantly, their sanity.
Keeping the house clean does not have to be a constant battle between you and your children. In fact, this can be an activity that the whole family can enjoy if done correctly.
Model The Behavior
The first thing that a parent must do in order to instill habits of cleanliness in their children is to set the example of what they want to see. You cannot expect your children to become clean people if you do not demonstrate what that is supposed to look like. If you are yelling at your kids for not picking up their socks when you are doing the same thing, it makes it hard to motivate them to change their behavior.
If you want your kids to change, the first step is to examine your own habits to see if they are contributing to the problem at hand.
Explain why being clean is important
The whole “because I said so” schtick is just about as outdated is bell-bottom jeans. It’s important to explain to children why you are asking them to do something. As annoying as this might be, taking the time to explain to the children why they need to help take care of their home can give them a sense of responsibility and ownership that they will come to enjoy as well as preventing the need for you to make a claim on your home warranty. Also, helping them to understand the importance of staying clean can help inspire them to do it on their own.
Put Systems In Place
If you find yourself just yelling at your five year old to clean up his legos after you’ve stepped on them for the 8th time that day, you’re fighting a losing battle. For this situation, it is important to have a designated spot for this particular toy. Perhaps getting a labeled bin or cubby would be a good start for getting organized. Also, having specific places in the house for bins of toys will give the children a point of reference for where the toys go when it is time to clean them up.
Have a designated cleanup time
Another thing that will help you to raise your children to be neat is to establish a time of day where the whole family cleans up together. This can be any time that you choose, but perhaps the best times may be after dinner or bath time in order to set the mood for relaxation.
If you are a stay at home parent, this time could possibly be before nap time or before leaving for an outing. When the children know that clean up time is part a regular part of their day, it will help them to fall into the routine and develop good cleaning habits.
Depending on the age of your child(ren), there may be times where this new routine can turn into a battle of wills. Don’t get discouraged if it takes a while. If you you are dealing with a particular strong willed child. Offering rewards or praise after they have cleaned up will be a great way to motivate them to repeat the behavior.
“Wow honey, you did such a great job cleaning up your toys” sounds so much better than repeating, “clean up this mess” for 40 minutes. Particularly to a child’s ears.
Don’t Give Up
Instilling new habits in your home can be a taxing process, particularly if you have strong-willed children. It is vital that you stick to your guns and stay the course. Giving in will only add on to the strain of maintaining your home. With time and perseverance, the results will come. As a result of having a cleaner, more organized home, your family will be a bit happier, and you will be able to maintain your sanity for one more day.