How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up When You are a Slob

I am kind of a slob when it comes to housekeeping. I throw my clothes on the floor when I am done wearing them. I don’t do my dishes right away. I’d rather leave some clutter on the counter so I can tackle a work project or read a book or cook a big pot of soup. Being a slob was bad enough when I lived by myself, but I married a slob and we are raising 3 kids. Multiple the mess by 4. Or is it 5? I have never been great at math, either.

I came to the realization that I am spending too much time picking up after everyone in my household and it is time for the kids to learn to pick up after themselves. They are 7 and almost 5 (the baby is too young to clean up after himself but his baby gear is everywhere, so he’s a big offender). I hate feeling like I am nagging and am trying to balance the teaching of responsibility and self-care with the level of mothering small children require.

Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” suggests that people who make their bed start the day on the right foot. Gretchen is right, but I have the mojo to make my bed in the morning vs. night about once every 30 days if I am lucky.

Making beds. That’s one thing I am encouraging the kids to do, starting on the weekends, given that the weekday school routine can be hectic.

Putting dirty clothes in the hamper. I’m asking the kids to move the piles of clothes from the floor to the laundry basket. Even better, trying to save on washloads by pushing the practice of wearing pajamas more than once, especially if they don’t have maple syrup on them.

Hanging up coats and putting away shoes. Our daycare provider and nursery school teachers teach self-care. Little kids as young as two should be able to hang their coats on a hook, and mine used to. I did it for them because it was faster and now I am paying for it.

Picking up toys. Here’s where having a “home” for every toy comes in. I love labeling boxes and organizing the playroom, but toys need to be picked up on a more regular basis in my house. It’s hard when they are playing a game with the Batman figures, the Fisher Price Little People AND cardboard blocks.

Messiness and creativity go hand in hand sometimes. I just need to rein ours in.

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