Cleaning Made Easy
by Lori Wildenberg
The dishes were stacked three deep and four high. A few crusty pots and pans littered the counter. The family of five left their dirty dishes near the awaiting dishwasher. My friend, the wife and mom of the family, sat on the couch with her broken arm elevated. She had an external fixator attached to her arm, the screws and pins remained outside her body. The steel contraption secured the fracture. Twice a day she had to clean the device and was unable to shower for ten days. Doing dishes could increase her risk of infection.
So . . . those dishes sat unattended. I rolled up my sleeves and got to work, wondering, “Why had the other four members abdicated kitchen duty?”
I’m not a great cleaner. I’m a good cleaner. My mother-in-law—now she’s a great cleaner. Legend has it that a person could eat off her bathroom floor. She is my go-to-gal for effective cleaning tips.
I’ve learned cleaning isn’t necessarily made easy by certain products or a specific approach but by a team effort and a good enough attitude. An outlook that combines both the Martha and Mary style seen in Luke 10:38-42.
Jesus and the twelve felt welcome at Martha’s house. She opened her home to them and fed them while Mary engaged with and focused on Jesus. Because Martha was prepared, she was able to receive Jesus. This made it possible for Martha’s sister, Mary, to sit at Christ’s feet.
Practically speaking, a clean home is ready to receive others; with the distraction of clutter missing, the priority of interpersonal interaction can rise to the surface.
How can the process be stream-lined to create a welcoming and functional home? The solution is to engage the family. Littles to young adults can participate. All family members living in the home benefit when it is organized and clean.
Begin by giving your kids on-the-job training for age-appropriate housework. Then step back and allow them to work. Avoid redoing what they accomplished. If you redo, they will quit helping since their effort won’t have mattered. (If you absolutely must fix things, do it when they are not around.) It’s OK if the result isn’t perfect. Lower your expectations while your kids are learning a new task. Good enough can be good enough. Bit by bit increase your standards. If the child does it differently from you yet still completes his job—that is a beautiful thing. He made the work his own.
Some jobs need to be done daily too so the home and its inhabitants can function well. The weekly or biweekly jobs keep the home clean. There are four quick and easy items that can be done each day.
Start each day by expecting every family member to make his bed. If the child is old enough to sleep in a big bed, he is old enough to make it. Be satisfied with the sheets and comforters being tidied up kid style. The bigger goal is to learn the daily discipline of making the bed.
Do your best to reduce the mess. A house that is void of clutter appears cleaner than one that is in disarray. Straighten up as you go. Train your kids the 1,2,3,4 steps. 1. Take it out. 2. Use it. 3. Put it away. 4. Go on to the next thing. Even toddlers ages two to three-years-old are able to learn this method.
“Always keep the main bathroom clean,” is a motto my friend Kathy embraces. She never has to worry if an unexpected guest drops by and then needs to step into the powder room.
Nothing makes a home look more neglected than a countertop filled with dirty dishes. Unload and load the dishes in the dishwasher to keep the kitchen clutter free. Children as young as five or six can take over this job with minimal supervision.
Put on some music and enlist the help of your family for the weekly or biweekly cleaning. Break down the jobs according to the supplies and equipment rather than rooms, with bedrooms being the exception. This makes it easier for family members to participate and to master a new task. The jobs may include dusting, cleaning the glass or mirrors, scouring the toilets, scrubbing the bathroom surfaces, wiping down the kitchen counter and vacuuming floors and carpet.
When littles through young adults participate in the household chores, responsibility is developed, family unity experienced, life skills are learned, effort appreciated, gratitude for those participating is grown and entitlement is squelched. Children have the experience of being a valued member of the family system and may be personally motivated to accomplish other things. The gratifying feeling for a job well done is more likely to be sought and replicated in other life arenas.
If the whole family pitches in, learns the various jobs and feels a collective responsibility for the home, the house will still function even if a family member is out of commission. When cleaning is made easier, you and your gang can reap the benefit of having more fun family time.
Lori Wildenberg’s fifth book, Messy Parenting: Powerful and Practical Ways to Strengthen Family Connections is available for preorder and will be released by New Hope Publishers August 20, 2018. Lori is a mom of four, licensed parent and family educator, and national speaker. She is passionate about helping families build connections that last a lifetime. She is the cofounder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Ministry and lead mentor mom at the Moms Together Facebook community. The Wildenbergs’ home is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. For more information go to loriwildenberg.com .
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