Let’s be honest here, those verses about Jesus throwing over tables in righteous anger weren’t put in the Bible to instruct me on the proper manner to approach cleaning my house.  But sometimes when I get started cleaning house with my kids, I feel like overturning tables of toys, books, crayons, misplaced laundry….

I don’t know about you, but cleaning house for us looks more like this:

kid on floor scrubber

than this:

Woman Dusting

And sometimes, it looks like this:

image

Cleaning with kids can be exasperating.  And I have to remind myself all the time that allowing time to train, to inspect, and for do-overs really is a good idea.  Ultimately, it’s not just about having a clean house; it’s also about having a place to bless others.  Part of blessing those who live in our house is teaching them what they need to know to be out of our house.  Doing all the cleaning while they are napping, at school, or playing won’t develop the skills necessary to make their own home a blessing someday. 

The first thing I need to remember when I am creating a cleaning plan, is to plan for when I can’t use the plan.  In other words, I have to intentionally build in flexibility. 

Usually we all clean together.  I admit I have put my kids in front of a movie – a really long one like the old Sound of Music or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – and cleaned the whole house by myself.  It is important to be flexible, whatever else you decide to do about cleaning.  

I need to be flexible about…

  • Planning the way I will clean.  We don’t clean the house the same way today as we did this time last year.  Kids change.  Schedules change.  Preferences change.  There are so many factors that go into the messes that get made and the time we have to clean, that we regularly adjust our cleaning schedule. 
  • Executing my cleaning plan.  From week to week, things happen.  Children (or parents) get sick.  There are recitals or soccer games, special church events, weather changes.  A plan that does not allow for us to miss cleaning or to abbreviate our cleaning gets thrown out pretty quickly.
  • Expecting my kids to perform.  I am horrible about this!  I frequently over estimate the ability of my kids.  When I am unwilling to alter the plan because I decided they could/should do something, it is destructive to our relationships.  I have to remain willing to adjust my expectations based on the reality playing out in front of me.
  • Deciding what gets cleaned.  Some cleaning is better than no cleaning, right?  Maybe it’s OK if everything that could get cleaned, doesn’t.  And there are some things that can be cleaned just so everyone can have a job.  I made a “duster” out of a dusting cloth, rubber band, and a clothespin so that our toddler would get out from under foot.  Worked like a charm!

Speaking of flexibility… next Wednesday is Christmas.  So I’ll post on Thursday.  A nice little post on cleaning up after the holidays & packing up those decorations.

Then, just in time for New Year’s Day, I’ll continue this series on Cleaning House with a post about chores for kids of any age.

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Photo credits:

Boy on floor scrubber:  By Raphaël Labbé from Paris, France (Child game) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Woman dusting:  This file was provided to Wikimedia Commons by the National Archives and Records Administration as part of a cooperation project. The National Archives and Records Administration provides images depicting American and global history which are public domain or licensed under a free license.
Football picture: By Mike Kaplan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons