I have five kids. Two of those five being toddlers who have learned how to get on to the table and counters. Chaos reigns over here. If I’m not careful my house looks like a group of preschoolers ransacked it. Toys are dragged around and strewn all over. Dishes pile up in the sink and on the counters. Laundry piles up taller than I am. And walking on our hardwood floors is like walking through the Sahara desert barefoot. It’s not pretty.
The nice part about having five kids is that I have free laborers. When I’ve had enough of their mess we can get on top of it pretty quickly. I put everyone that is still napping age down for a nap because they are the least helpful. Then I assign zones to each kid. Someone gets the dishes, someone gets everything on the floor, someone else gets everything on the tables and counters, etc. Once it’s neat, I start assigning cleaning jobs. Someone gets the upstairs bathroom, someone gets all the mirrors, someone gets to sweep, someone gets to get mommy a drink.
I’ve found that by doing this my kids are learning new skills. They are working as a team. They are learning the art of cleaning. One day they could probably even get a job as a maid. My aspirations are sometimes low. At the very least, they can keep a relatively neat house. Though they don’t do the job that I would do, they do a decent enough job. Plus, I’ve learned that with five kids, the world’s expectations of me are pretty low. Everyone is surprised that my house is relatively neat. If someone does comment on my streaked mirrors, I just inform them that they were cleaned by a five-year-old and then they are even more impressed that I’ve gotten my five-year-old to do a decent job cleaning mirrors.
In order to avoid mutiny (which has happened here) I usually bribe with lunch out, which is a rarity around here. Sometimes we’ll go get McDonalds and the kids will play on the playground while I read. Sometimes I’ll pack a lunch and we’ll take it to the park, the kids will play, I’ll read. Do you see a trend? This lunch out is two fold, the kids get to eat out and my house stays clean longer. I guess it could even be three fold. They get to burn lots of energy and I get to relax while they do it.
So that’s what works for me. Slave labor to clean the house and then staying out of it to keep it clean.