Family + Parenting

Why I refuse to hire a cleaning lady…

Having five kids and a very large home, people often ask me, “you must have help with the cleaning?” Yes! Thank God I do! They are 18, 16, 12, 7 and 4 and able-bodied!

It has never sat right with me that children would be the main culprits of household mess and yet bare the least of the burden of cleaning it up. Prepare to gasp, but in my home, the children do the bulk of the cleaning.
I don’t have them do all the cleaning because my husband and I are lazy, quite the contrary. Anyone that has ever spent the time to instruct a six year old week after week on how to clean a bathroom properly can attest, it would certainly be easier to do it alone.

5 key things I believe my kids are learning by cleaning our home:

1. How to properly clean and care for a home and their belongings. We all had that friend or college roommate that we stared at in awe. How did he get to be 18 years old and have no idea how to do laundry? Did no one really ever tell her to scrub her toilet at least once a week? Have you been to her apartment?! We show we value the things we have by how we take care of them. This is not intrinsic for many people. For some reason it needs to be taught, that if you don’t want to sleep in a stinky bed, you WILL need to wash your sheets! If for no other reason, we want our kids to live in a clean environment free of bacteria and germs!
2. Personal responsibility. It is absolutely no ones job to clean behind you. From the time my kids were little they have had household jobs. I never wanted them to think that THEIR laundry was Mommy’s job. (in reality, why would it be? I never wore that tutu!) Around four years old my kids learn to do laundry start to finish, including putting their clothes away. (I do help with detergent and hangers). I’ve heard many a mom tell me they could never handle that because of the poor folding skills of children. I appreciate that, but given the choice between messier drawers or entitled and inept children, I choose the former. Having and keeping nice things requires hard work, it doesn’t just happen!
3. Our family is a team. Everyone is valuable. Everyone contributes. Everyone is needed. We live together in these four walls and TOGETHER we maintain it. One child cleans the powder room every weekend, another child feeds the dog, another picks up dog poop daily, another mops twice a week… we are all needed! One person doesn’t bear the brunt of the work. We do it together, and the more we each contribute, the quicker we all can be done!
4. YOU NEVER STAND BY AND WATCH SOMEONE WORK! I hope you read that like I was yelling. Lord, never let a person I raised stand idly by and watch someone else labor without rolling up their sleeves and helping. My kids impression of me…“I know you are not just sitting there with two good arms watching me work…” This goes back to a fundamental principle of being others orientated. I am constantly directing my kids to view a scenario for how they can help it, not how they can take from it. This reframing of human nature takes constant repetition.
5. Becoming a self starter and finding self sufficiency. Seeing what needs to be done and doing it, without being told, will take you far in this world. Being self sufficient allows you to depend on no one. Pair those qualities together and our kids can direct their own paths.

It’s never too late to get your kids involved in doing their part in your home! Whatever age or stage they are currently at, you can employ new standards and expectations, that is simply the beauty of being the boss. I have personally recited ad nauseum the five points I listed for you, but in a pinch, a set of crazy eyes and “I know you’re not just sitting there watching me…” should do the trick! Moms, back away from the dustpan, there are children ready to learn!