Guess what we did last night? What our family has done every Thursday for about eight years? I’m sure my children wish I would be alluding to some movie night or the like, but I’m talking about something I like.
No, something I LOVE.
We cleaned. Yep, ALL of us. We cranked up the music, each took a job, and 30-45 minutes later our house was presentable again. People can stop by unexpectedly and we don’t need to freak out (this is a blessing, believe me).
When we started Family Cleaning Night, it’s purpose was three-fold:
- Have basic cleaning done on a consistent basis (duh…)
- Teach the kids how to do said basic cleaning
- Save mom’s sanity
This last point can’t be emphasized enough.
I remember feeling like I was keeping things fairly under control when we had one bathroom and little kids. Then we added another (half) bath, the kids grew older and somehow…well, dirtier. Even though I wasn’t working outside the home then, we were doing a lot and I just wasn’t able to clean consistently. To be honest, I just felt like I was running around all day trying to get everything done while the rest of the family dirtied everything up.
So when my sister-in-law said their family had a “cleaning night,” I grasped the idea like a woman grabbing a lifesaver (oh, how I wish I had thought of it, but I’m so glad she did!). And yeah, I guess I wasn’t feeling “appreciated” and I hoped when they saw (and felt) what it was like to clean, maybe they would take a little more ownership of our home.
Eight years later I’m not sure about ownership, but they sure know how to clean.
My daughter (listening to her own music) knows all about cleaning bathrooms. She can also dust and vacuum. She started at age five dusting, then started vacuuming the stairs when she got older. Now she and her brother alternate months between cleaning bathrooms and dusting.
She tells me often that her friends think its weird that she has to clean. I ask her who she’d like to have as a roommate when she’s older- one of her friends who don’t know how to clean, or some “weird” person like her.
Um, yeah, guess which she chose?
Our son was eight when we started cleaning as a family. He was in charge of the half-bath the kids used and cleaned the bathroom until his sister was old enough to share that chore.
I really felt it was our duty as parents to make sure both our kids knew what it takes to maintain a home by cleaning, picking up and doing laundry (they do their own laundry now, too). Sure, it makes my life easier, but I would be shirking on my job as a mom if I just did everything for them. Contrary to popular thought, I guess.
And here’s another important point: they don’t get paid for this work. This is something we do as a family, all pitching in to make our home life easier and more pleasant all the way around. They have other jobs that they can do to earn money each week, but this (and also setting the table and doing dishes) is just a part of being in a family.
Brian vacuums all the living areas and empties all the trash. He’s just so happy about it, here, isn’t he?
For our family this has been key: we all do it- no one is exempt. Of course there are many nights we wish we didn’t have to clean. In fact, we’ve found we tend to sit at the table longer on Thursdays…we just “happen” to find so many things to talk about. But we know if we just push through, it’s over quickly and we all enjoy having a clean house.
Umm, I should also mention one other little point: Thursday is also the only night we all get to have ice cream…after we’ve finished cleaning. I thought it would be nice to have something positive the kids could look forward to each cleaning night.
Oh, the power of a little bribery.
Does anyone else do Cleaning Night (or a version thereof)?
Or are we truly weird?