Family cleaning night is the BEST thing our family ever did- it teaches kids how to clean & help while keeping mom's sanity!
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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 referring to some movie night or pizza night, but I'm talking about something I like.
No, something I LOVE. We had our weekly Family Cleaning Night.
Yep, we cleaned - ALL of us. We cranked up the music, each took a job, and 30-45 minutes later our house was presentable again for another week. 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 (this is a life skill - everyone needs to know this!)
- 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. And I don't think I'm alone in this, right?
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.
What Family Cleaning Night Looks Like for Us:
Our daughter (choosing to listen to her own music…this happens as they get older, sigh.) 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.
ANY age child can help the family and when their young they often thinks it's cool and fun, so take advantage of that!! Some ideas to start them with include:
- a kid-sized broom and one room they are in charge of (and if you need to 'fix' it, do it later when they can't see so they aren't discouraged)
- a duster and some easy-to-reach surfaces
- a basket they can use to collect items that need to go back to rooms.
Our daughter often tells me 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. 8-year-olds CAN clean toilets - really!
I really feel it's our duty as parents to make sure our kids know what it takes to maintain a home by cleaning, picking up and doing laundry (by middle school-high school they were doing their own laundry). Sure, it makes my life easier (amen), but I would be shirking on my job as a mom if I just did everything for them. Contrary to popular thought it seems, according to my kids!
Here's another important point about kids and regular cleaning:
- they don't get paid for this work.
This is something we do as a family, all of us 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.
And here's the main thing that's made it just a little better for our kids:
- Cleaning night is the only night we 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, right?
So, the two things I tell people to make cleaning nights more fun are:
- Make fun music mixes of all your favorite songs and get the kids involved in choosing.
- Play the music loud - it's the difference that makes it fun!
- Sweeten the deal with ice cream! It helps to make this the only night for ice cream (other than special occasions, of course), otherwise it's not special.
There's not much I guarantee on this blog, but if you institute regular cleaning nights, I do guarantee that you will LOVE it!
Does anyone else do cleaning nights?