Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Dirty Little Secret

Okay, okay, so this is really NOT a dirty little secret, but a little cleaning secret!!

I think we all want our children to be hard workers. We wish that we could somehow have a farm in the backyard where they learned to wake up at five in the morning to milk cows and collect eggs, or where they had to sweat in the hot sun bringing in the harvest. We all know that they would undoubtedly build tremendous character doing those kinds of things. (And maybe you do have a farm!) But, quite frankly, I don’t even want to wake up at five in the morning myself. I'm not much of an animal person anyway. And I love buying my milk and eggs at Harmon’s. (I kind of have issues with farm-fresh eggs anyway!) And while I love my new wheat-grinding, bread-making hobby, I am really glad that I didn’t have to plow, plant, and harvest the wheat. Canning all of those cans at the Church Cannery was hard enough!! So, for me, a backyard farm is out of the question.

But still, I want my kids to know how to work. I’ve found that teaching them to help around the house is usually A LOT harder than just doing everything by myself. But my mom promised me (and she raised eight valiant house cleaners), that it is worth every bit of effort to teach children to clean. By the time we were old enough to go to school, we were doing major jobs around the house. We were like a bunch of Merry-Maids on Saturday morning, and I know my mom was relieved and thankful to have that much help—even if we were just kids.

So I came up with a fun way to get my kids to help with the cleaning. I don’t know how I thought of it!! But it is awesome! I am sharing this little tip because it works like a charm—EVERY TIME. Whenever I do this, we completely skip the whole moaning and groaning part that can be so annoying. I call it the Cleaning Treasure Map…and my kids love it.

Here’s how you do it: I put their name at the top of the paper. And then I list each job on a different part of the sheet, with a little bubble drawn around it and dotted lines to connect the jobs. At the end of all of the jobs, I draw a big X. When they get done with everything and make it the X, they let me know and I go hide somewhere in the house. Then, they try to find me and I usually have a little treat for them or a prize (sometimes it is as simple as a few chocolate chips or a promise to paint toe nails).

They all think this is so fun, and I hear them rushing around the house completing their jobs in the exact order I wrote down! It is like a miracle. Sometimes they finish much, much faster than I expected them to, so I started adding a bubble toward the end—"help mom with an extra job"—so I could add on something if their list was too easy, or if their list was a little too hard, then I just ask them to put something away for me. I always make one bubble say “get dressed,” and another bubble is for getting their hair fixed (I usually have to stop what I am doing and fix hair when they get to that point). Sometimes I’ll add piano practice, help fold laundry, and even play with Austin. For my preschooler, Miles, I draw pictures and then tell him what each one means, and he never forgets what I draw. His jobs are simpler. He usually has to go to the bathroom, get dressed, put away pajamas, make his bed, clean up some toys, sort the clean silverware from the dishwasher into the drawer, and play a game with Austin. But he loves it and does a really good job. The best part is that they carry around their list and work on their own with very little prompting from me. I am amazed what my girls can accomplish when I put it on the treasure map: cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, organizing, name it, they can do it! I hope with all my heart (cross my fingers!) that I am raising children who know how to work. Already, at their young ages, they are actually helping me!

So give it a try. Your kids will LOVE it. But watch out…lately, my husband Greg’s been wanting a treasure map too…especially if it means finding me hiding in a closet at the end!!

Happy Cleaning!
-Rindi :)


Christie K said...

I will give it a try this Friday! Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

Rindi, I love the treasure map idea. I wished I had of been that smart when you were all little. We just had long lists that everyone groaned about. One mistake that i made was that I kept adding more jobs until the house was finished. I think this really makes the kids feel discouraged and not want to hurry and get their work done. So if I had to do it over again, I would always make the list complete and give the kids hope that their chores were all listed. Good Job, love mom.

Em Russ said...

LOL... you are a genius. I am totally going to do this tomorrow. Do you do it every day or is this a special "weekend" sort of activity. You know I need all the help I can get with this!! :) And Debi... great tip to make them have a complete list so that they can see an ending in sight.

P.S. Rins... still laughing about the Greg comment

Becca Jane said...

This is genius! I love it, thanks for the wonderful idea!!

Chazlyn said...

what a great idea! I love lists so this would be perfect for my family.

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