Happy New Year!
Resolution # 17: Clean Up My Act.
Clean body/ clean mind? Clear house/ clear mind?
My three kids will tell you that I love to make up quotes when I can’t find one that works. They will also tell you that we do not always have a clean house.
So why am I writing about the importance of keeping your home organized? Because after seventeen years with kids, the reality is when a home is organized (with an entire team effort of course) everything else is better as a result.
There are a few families that have this concept mastered. These folks rarely have a messy pile of papers on their desks, counters or washing machines.
This blog is for the rest of us… who have been known to dump huge piles of “stuff” into a closet or clothes dryer when guests are on their way over.
I know, I KNOW… you don’t have time and no one helps out. But if we promise that taking the time to keep your home a bit more organized and clutter-free would help your family be happier – would you give it a try?
Here is the truth, it doesn’t have to be clean every single moment – we have to be REAL here! But if you can set up some sort of schedule for your family to become accustomed to… developing healthy family habits is the goal.
In the Montessori classroom it works like a dream. I am not kidding it really does! We are all (children and teachers) responsible for keeping our classroom beautiful. We take great pride in making sure it is clean and feels organized. Everything has a place and the children know where everything goes and they can do it all themselves. Do they have to be reminded occasionally to put a lesson away? Of course! But – when water is spilled? They know where the clean towels are and where to put the dirty ones. Dry spills on the floor? We have a dust pan and brush and even the three-year-olds know how to use it!
Children can learn responsibility at a very young age. If you create an atmosphere of accountability – where they are a part of the cleaning process – they will be much more likely to maintain a daily routine. Does this effort take time? Of course, but in the long run it will be time very well spent.
A few simple ideas:
Meals: Setting the table. Preparing the meals. Clean up such as putting things away and dishes in dishwasher. Additionally, meal planning is great fun for children and they are more likely to enjoy their dinner if they had some say in planning it!
Laundry: Even very young children can sort lights and darks, carry small baskets and help with basic folding. Encourage them to match all the socks!
My three kids have done their own laundry since they were in fifth grade – I am not kidding. Most importantly, I am not responsible if their soccer uniform isn’t clean. How do I make sure the laundry is put away and not left in basket indefinitely? I give them a choice; “I can help you put it away now or you can do it by yourself before you watch TV tonight.” Works every time.
Dust/ Vacumm: Younger children LOVE doing this!!! (Teenagers, not so much.) Will it be perfect? No – but who cares. We have both a dog and a cat at our house so any vacuuming is extremely helpful.
Toys: If you have a bin or “place” for their things, they will know just what to do. In our classrooms we have small rugs that children keep their “work” on. This way it isn’t all over the floor.
Papers: Having school-age children means having a TON of papers. (So many trees.) Keeping the piles under control can help when it comes to looking for lost homework. Have a simple filing system for papers to be saved and teach children how to recycle the papers they no longer need or want.
Tip: Remember to make sure it is the child’s responsibility to do their homework in a timely manner and get it all back into his/ her backpack when finished. There are always a few “beginning of the school year” phone calls (from unnamed children now in the elementary school office) because he/ she left their homework on the kitchen table. Do I bring it to them? If I did – would that teach them accountability? (Homework is the subject of an entirely different blog!)
Practical life is what Maria Montessori called it. Knowing how to take care of and take responsibility for yourself (even at a very young age) and mastering new independence and additional skills as you grow.
A little bit each day, once a week, once a month – finding what works best for your family. It begins with baby steps. Wiping up a spill, cleaning up your Legos, cleaning your room, cleaning up after a mistake you made, eventually and ultimately, pile by pile cleaning up your world.
It’s not that hard, it just takes lots of practice.
P.S. And of course, this is always easier than Resolution # 9 – lose ten pounds. 😦