When I was a kid growing up at home, my mother handled the running and keeping of our house. I had to make my bed and keep my room tidy. Once a week I had to dust and maybe when I got older I cleaned bathrooms, only toilets and sinks never the tub and floors.
We left for school everyday and when we came home the house was magically clean and our laundry washed and folded. My mother did most everything.
I never washed dishes until I was married and I can not even remember washing clothes ever. Although I did have some jobs I was responsible for and my mom did teach me how to cook but I had no idea what went into the total running of a home.
When my husband and I were first married, I remember coming home from our honey moon and before I was starting back to work I decided our new home needed a good scrubbing.
I had no cleaner so I drove over to my mothers house and borrowed her cleaners, her mop and her mop bucket.
I am not sure why I just didn’t run to the store and buy my own, but I didn’t I simply went and got my momma’s.
I had no idea how to keep up with all the responsibilities of house keeping, you know with the daunting two loads of laundry per week, and having to cook and wash dishes for two people, as well as vacuum and sweep and mop it was ghastly!! Housekeeping was a far stretch from the domestic bliss I had seen on the reruns of certain T.V. shows such as Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, and The Donna Reed Show. Their homes were perfect, dinner was served promptly at 6pm, they wore pearls while they scrubbed toilets and never broke a sweat….what was wrong with me?!
When we had our first child, I would get up at 4am to do all the house hold chores and cook dinner. My daily goal was to have it all done before my son was up for the day, because I thought he needed my undivided attention when he was awake. I never wanted him to feel like I was distracted.
When I was expecting our second child I went to a parenting seminar. The speaker was a doctor, and a well respected father of 8 or 9 children. I will never forget what he said. He was speaking on giving your children value, and he said that moms are more than capable of doing everything for our kids especially if we have one,two, or three children. However, he explained that by doing everything ourselves we are not giving our children a place of value in our homes.
He told the story of when he was a small boy his job was to milk the cow, if he didn’t milk the cow, then the family went without milk. His job was an important one, and one that if neglected affected the whole family. He said he always milked the cow because he knew his family was depending on him. He grew up feeling very valued and important. He grew up knowing he was important, his job was important and that he was needed in his family.
This man’s speech impacted me. I wanted my children to always feel valued and needed and to know they are vital in the functioning of our home. It was then that I began my quest to figure out how to run my home and train my children, so that they would all know they were valued and important members of this family. In order to do so, I realized I had to come up with a system, a simple one that was manageable and doable.
As with everything there is always a bit of prep work. First I made a list of every job that needed to be done in every room of my house. For instance, for the Kitchen I wrote down, dishes washed, counters and cabinets bleached, cabinets organized, floors swept, floors mopped, windows washed, walls scrubbed, refrigerator bleached, freezer cleaned out and bleached, top of refrigerator cleaned off and washed down, appliances wiped down , table and chairs wiped down and window sills wiped out.
Once I had compiled a list for each room I went back and wrote on the side of the task how often I had to have it done in order to feel like I could survive. I broke the jobs down to daily, every other day, weekly,or monthly.
My kitchen list still looks a bit like this:
Dishes washed (3x daily)
Counters and cabinet facings bleached (Every Other day)
Cabinets organized (monthly)
Floors swept (3x daily)
Floors mopped (daily in the evening)
windows washed (monthly)
walls scrubbed (weekly)
Appliances washed down (weekly)
Refrigerator and Freezer cleaned and bleached out (weekly)
Stove hood wiped (daily)
table and chairs wiped down (3x daily)
Window sills wiped (every other day)
trash taken out (daily in the evening)
Next I took the daily jobs and plugged them into my schedule, then I plugged in the every other day, weekly and monthly jobs
These tasks can be color coordinate and penciled onto a calendar.
When doing this for yourself, the next step is to see what your children can do safely and assign them jobs from the list.
With the younger children it helps to have a sticker page or chart on the refrigerator so that they can be rewarded for their diligence and assistance.
It also helps to have them work with you in what ever room you are tackling. Working along side of you helps your children learn how to do each task properly, plus it is a good opportunity to build relationships with your kids.
It is best to remember that the children are not going to do the jobs as well as you, but the objective it to teach them how to do the job, and to give them value as part of the family. As they grow and mature they will also improve in their technique. Allow them to do the jobs even if its not done as well as you do it. By giving them this opportunity you are giving them a chance to learn to work and to become valuable and vital parts of your family.
Prior to starting our jobs we quickly run through the house and perform a general tidying through out so that all rooms are put together, and we start a load of laundry.
In my opinion laundry should be washing as we start working our jobs. I always feel that by having the wash going I am totally multitasking.
By breaking our lists down to bite sizes we are able to divide and conquer.
The children are all given tasks and they too feel very accomplished when they are done assisting me.
An orderly house makes for a peaceful atmosphere but it doesn’t have to take over your entire day.
By doing the tasks bit by bit a little each day it makes a world of difference in the long term maintenance. Don’t let things get unmanageable do a little each day!
Homemaking is still a big job, but once I realized that as a family we could all work together to accomplish the jobs it no longer was a difficult as I had made it. It helped tremendously to include the children and to know that they need to be given responsibilities as a means to realize their value and importance as part of our family.
As the post script I would like to add that by having a routine, if you don’t get to one of the jobs this week then you can breathe easy because you know it’s on the list for next week…and just in case I have given the impression that my children all wake up eager to tackle the chores daily let me assure you that they don’t. It takes training, coaxing and at times a mean mommy look…but that my friend is a totally different post within itself! (wink,wink)