My Top Five Tips for Successful Cleaning Routines for Kids

Do you have cleaning routines in your family?

I remember when my girls were younger we were always coming up with cleaning games or activities to help them develop a sense of daily order and cleanliness, without making the process feel like a dreaded “chore.” I’ll admit we were sometimes successful, but sometimes our kids mocked our creative attempts.

They still laugh at a chart we devised where they could put a smiley face every time they picked something up off the floor.  At the end of the week they would exchange smiley faces for cash. Well, that plan kind of backfired when they conveniently dropped additional socks on the floor all week and plucked out tiny pieces of lint from the carpet in order to get more smiley faces. Smart girls. Anyhoo….

But along the way though trial and error, we did figure out a few motivational techniques, tips and routines that seemed to work for them.

1. Have Realistic Expectations.

I remember telling my girls to “clean their rooms” and returning later to find the room hardly looked cleaner. I didn’t blame the kids, I just realized I needed to make my expectations more clear. To a child, asking them to “clean a room” is an overwhelming and confusing concept they often have trouble mastering. Asking them to put away their clean laundry away or to clear off a desktop are likely more manageable expectations and will eventually lead to better skill with keeping a cleaning routine.

2. Set Timers

I don’t know about your kids but mine worked much more efficiently with deadlines. If I asked them to pick up all the toys off the floor and return them to where they belong, it might take all afternoon because they would become distracted by playing with them. But if I set a timer for 15 minutes, the task was over and done 15 minutes later. We called our timed cleaning rituals “cleaning frenzies” and it turned what might feel like a chore into a fun game. And as a long term bonus it taught them to do housework quickly and efficiently!

3. Have A Place for Everything

Most of my failures trying to teach my kids to clean and establish routines came from not having a good system set up to begin with. If my kids were struggling with picking up their room or closet, it usually meant one of two things. Either they had too much stuff or it was not clear enough what they should do with everything. By regularly purging excess and having a clear place for everything, I hoped to teach my kids be successful not only with daily cleaning but understanding the need for keeping only what you need and basic organizational skills.

4. Set Aside Time for Daily Cleaning.

Once a month cleaning and weekend cleaning plans did not work at our house. For awhile we tried Saturday cleaning and it pretty much ruined our weekend. Once I realized that I didn’t enjoy letting all the housework pile up to be dealt with on Saturday, everything changed around our house.

Instead of putting off cleaning until “later” we incorporated cleaning routines into our day to day schedules and it made life much easier. Our kids had a certain “zone” in their room to clean most every single day. One day they’d tackle their desk, the next day the floor, the next day the dresser. A little bit of upkeep every day helped our whole family to become people who generally just picked up after ourselves regularly, rather than waiting until “heavy cleaning day.”

5. Rewards, Memory Making and End of the Week Fun.

My husband and I looked forward to our date nights after a week of chores and homemaking, or enjoyed paychecks after a hard week at work, so we decided our kids would benefit by having something to look forward to every week as well. Sometimes rewards were directly related to completing certain chores (as a paycheck is directly related to doing our job), and sometimes chores were simply part of being a member of the family. But we tried to create some sort of weekly “reward” or “memorable event” to look forward to each week — whether it was allowances or fun family nights or ideally both!

It is so important to make living fun and memorable. I never wanted my kids to have more memories of “cleaning days” and “chores” than of regular family fun and I really liked teaching them about the rewards of hard work and daily discipline.

So did all our efforts to teach our kids pay off?

I’d say both of my girls are well on their way to having some great homemaking skills and are two of the hardest working young women I know. And not only that, they lead fun creative lives at the same time (while they don’t blog very often, you can find Kylee’s blog here and Courtney’s blog here). I’m so happy we took the time to instill some basic cleaning routines and homemaking principles into their lives when they were younger! We are still working with our 11 year old son, but he is also learning some of the same things we taught our girls!

What are your best tips for cleaning with kids?

And what attempts have failed miserably?! Go ahead. Confess.


All photos taken by me at the Street of Dreams, Portland, Oregon 2008.

How to Declutter Your Home {5 Daily Habits for a Clean House}!

5 Daily Habits for a Clean House - Love the Home You Have - The Inspired Room blog

I don’t know about you, but when my home gets cluttered and out of control, I feel personally out of sorts and out of control. The state of my home really affects my emotional well being and my productivity.

Do you find clutter affects you that way as well?

Because clutter impacts me so much, it is very helpful for me to have daily routines to keep clutter and stress at bay. I’ll admit there are hectic seasons of life where it can be particularly challenging to keep order, but interestingly the busier I am the more important it becomes to stick to daily habits.

So where do we begin to form new habits?

Here is a 30 day habit forming plan I created for myself that takes loads of stress off my shoulders when I need to form new clutter-busting habits at my home! Hopefully it will help you too.

Ready?

It is as easy as: 

1. Find four clutter hotspots in your home.

Where does most of your daily clutter land and the frustration begin?

Make a list of four problem areas in your home — the ones that REALLY drive you crazy every day. Think about manageable surfaces or identifiable areas of rooms rather than an entire room. Perhaps areas such as your kitchen or bathroom counters, a dining table, the floor around the front door,  laundry baskets or your nightstand. If you have more than four, don’t worry. You can get to those later. For now, just pick the four most visible or frustrating areas. If you have one room that is a real problem every day, perhaps pick four manageable surfaces, closets or drawers all in that one space.

2. Select one outside hotspot.

Once you identify those daily clutter hotspots inside, think about areas outside of your home that cause you stress, frustrate or embarrass you regularly as well, such as your purse, car or front porch. Choose the worst daily offender. You’ll attack the rest later.

You should now be able to identify your top 5 worst clutter hotspots! Hooray! Now you know where to focus your attention.

Don’t you feel better already knowing you have narrowed down the biggest offenders?

You can do this. I promise.

REMEMBER: Don’t worry right now about how to solve every possible clutter problem all over the house, that can be overwhelming. Stay focused and you’ll succeed!

3. Create 5 daily new habits corresponding to your 5 clutter hot spots.

Now you can begin your plan of attack for creating 5 new daily habits to overcome clutter and stress in those 5 problematic areas!

Take a look at your five previously stressful hotspots. Looking good, right? Now let’s keep ’em that way.

What simple daily habits and routines will keep those clutter hot spots from piling up again?

Grab a piece of paper and identify one daily routine for each of the five areas.
Here are some examples of habits you might adopt:

See how easy and fun this is?

Doable, right?

Remember: It takes about 30 days to form a new habit or routine.

You’ve got this!

  • 1, 2, 3 steps to begin, 5 hotspots, 5 habits and 30 days to get in the groove.
  • So many numbers today! 1, 2, 3, 5, 5 and 30.

photos: via my home and a visit to the street of dreams in 2009

Love The Home You Have

Want more inspiration? Check out my new book, Love the Home You Have!

Check out these related posts:

How I Keep My House Clean with 4 Daily Routines
Essentials for an Organized Pantry on eBay

Speed Cleaning: Tips for More Efficient Housekeeping
The Cleaning Frenzy: 15 Minutes to a Tidier House

When Good Enough is Good Enough for Now {Command Center for Organization}

Truth.

So my life has been kinda busy for the past few years.

Not only did we move to another state to start a creative church from scratch, but this weekend we are launching a concert house. Yawn. Not much goes on around our house.

Yeah. So. What would life be like without a little crazy eyed insanity mixed in? I don’t know. But I’d like to find out someday.

So meanwhile, along with crazy we need a bit of organization. Of course with all we’ve had going on, we haven’t had much time for GETTING organized. Kind of a catch 22. We have been just trying to make it through the day in front of us juggling all the balls and trying not to drop too many.

Because January is the time for turning over a new leaf, I decided I needed an organization intervention. That, and people are starting to look at us funny. Like we really might be disorganized or something. Meh.

One of the things that stops me sometimes from organizing is I have grand ideas of what “organized” should look like. I’ve dreamed about Command Centers forever. I’ve been plotting for quite some time to reorganize and makeover my office, and I’m definitely going to accomplish that in the coming weeks. But I also dream about things like big mud rooms and giant back halls when I have tiny halls and small laundry rooms. Blast.

In my mind, all the ideas I have for organization look perfect, pretty and finished. You know, like Pinterest.

Or like The House of Smiths.

Hey! They made that beauty out of those radiator metal cover things so many of you suggested for my mantel!

So, THAT is pretty much why I don’t have my command center yet. I want to make stuff like that.

And I want a door like that too while I’m at it. Pretty as a picture.

I want a before and a perfect AFTER. Now.

But I don’t have the perfect space or enough time right now for what I might deem a Pinterest-worthy command center. There are other beautifying projects waiting in line ahead of this one. My husband is busy and while he helps me when he can, he is not a big fan of staying up past his bedtime doing DIY projects. And so sometimes my crazy schedule and big dreams for things like awesome command centers derail before they even get started. And so we sit stalled, and disorganized, not able to move forward. Yet, I know it is important and its time has come.

So this week I went to Costco for groceries because sometimes my family gets hungry (the nerve!) and on my way to buy spinach, I spotted THIS.

HELLO GIANT FOUR FOOT MAGNETIC CHALKBOARD!

Behold.  The start of Command Central at my house.

Was it exactly what I pictured? No.

Is it perfectly functional for what I needed? Yes. And I love the smooth writing surface much better than chalkboard paint.

Could I paint the frame if I wanted to or add additional organizational items to my wall with this? Of course!

Did it come with a giant mudroom? Oh, snap. No.

Was there a better solution? Maybe, but sometimes you just have to START somewhere or you’ll never start anywhere.

Was it the deal of the century? Not really.

But was it a timer saver? YES.

So after wresting with my own mind over the options and what to do right there in the aisle at Costco, I decided DONE was going to be good enough this time. I’m a woman on a mission still trying to solve all my goals from last year like making our home work better for us. And nothing is going to stop me.

So I yanked the box out of the holder it was in and awkwardly balanced it in its box on top of my small cart (this chalkboard is HUGE by the way, four feet across and 3 feet tall), steering past the books and into the backsides of a few unsuspecting shoppers to get to the checkout stand. Oops!

Oh, and I had to leave without the spinach because I was too afraid of dropping the box. Home goals from last year trump eating this year.

What I Wore to Costco

{don’t you think that would be an awesome linky party?}

While Pinterest is THE BOMB for dreaming about great ideas, sometimes good enough ideas are found at Costco when we are wearing our classic boring outfit of jeans and Chucks instead of the cute ruffled red coat and polka dot shoes all the cool moms on Instagram are wearing.

Anyhoo…this is my real life. Not too pinterest worthy. I just have to come to terms with the fact that sometimes I have a Costco-inspired life.

In my real life:

I’m OK that my command center is going in the tiny hall by my kitchen for now and not the perfect space.

I don’t have the most awesome stenciled wall ready to hang my command center to make it super cute.

And I’ve come to accept that I don’t have perfectly taped gridlines for my calendars. I can wait.

I’ve made peace with the face that I don’t have the cutest magnets to clip my papers on. What I have works just fine.

I’m OK with not having perfect light glowing through my windows for this picture taken at 10PM last night.

I’m OK with being content in a stage in between the BEFORE and the AFTER.

The important thing is: I finally have a command center and we can feel a little less crazy now. I’m good with that.

Carry on. Maybe next time I show you this I’ll have stenciled walls. Ha. Doubt it.

So what is holding you back from getting organized?

If you struggle with discontentment with where you are or need a little more courage to stay focused on what really matters, I thought this was such an honest, real post (and the fact that she mentioned me was sweet too!!).

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