This is my apartment on a regular basis. Notice the slippers, the orange cloth napkin on the couch, the unfolded throw, the stuff on the counter, the garbage can liner waiting to be put back in the can, the unmade bed. Now, I’m not trying to brag but I want to use myself as an example of a person that doesn’t enjoy housework…at ALL!
I mention this simply because this is the way I’ve always been. I’m not one of those women who just LOVES to clean, and that loves a spotless home. I like my house relatively clean, and organized but there is dust on the tables, carpeting that needs vacuuming, a floor that requires mopping, etc. and I’ll get around to it today but not after I put it off, and my belly button is completely clear of lint. I’m one of those women when I’m stressed out I DON’T reach for a cleaning bucket; instead I reach for ice cream and the remote.
Now, I’d like to put this characteristic into understanding why it is so hard to get children to clean up after themselves. When I was little my mom would send me to my room to clean it, and 3 hours or more later I would emerge with a new found treasure that I’d lost long ago. I’m a piddler cleaner. I get distracted very easily and so cleaning; even a 670 sq ft apartment can take me forever, and since I know this I put off cleaning. I find that this is no different for children. Have you ever noticed they start cleaning resolutely, and then suddenly they go to put away a toy, and that toy becomes ever so interesting, and they begin playing; utterly forgetting that they’re supposed to be cleaning up so they can go somewhere or do something else. So for our children cleaning up takes FOREVER!!!! Let’s face it they are too darn busy to be bothered with cleaning for Heaven’s Sake!
So, how do we get our children to clean up after themselves? Here are a few tips I’ve come across that may help; who knows maybe they’ll help me to be more motivated to clean too. 1) keep chores as pleasant as possible (yelling and screaming not an option to get them to do it), 2) Make your expectations clear, 3) teach and train 4) provide support and feedback, 4) Consistently follow through with consequences when they challenge their obligations (remember to make consequences consistent and logical but not severe), 5) Be very proud and grateful when they do their chores. Never forget to praise them, and remember that it probably won’t be perfect but it’s good for them. Don’t be one of those parents that whatever your children do isn’t good enough.
Here is a chart broken down by age as to what is appropriate chore expectations: