learning to be clean, teaching kids to be clean when you are messy? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 10-14-2010, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know if this is the right place to post, but I wanted to know about how others have helped their kids to be neat, especially if they are naturally messy (er, filthy) themselves.

For example, at the end of third grade, I was cleaning out my desk and found a rotten box of milk behind all of my papers. It had been there for months and I had no idea. In college, I sometimes threw away dishes because they'd been gross for months. Yep, months. My bed was usually covered in books and papers except for the little spot where I slept. I had no drug or alcohol use or abuse issues. It was just how I was. And not because I never had to clean or do chores.

My dad (who I wasn't even around that much growing up) is worse if you can believe that. I once visited him and my brother and I cleaned up a foot deep of garbage from his bedroom. His sheets were rotten where he slept.

Anyhow, I decided after my daughter was born that I would not live like that for her. So now we do little cleanings together all day long, and while our apartment is not pristine, it's clean. Dishes done, floors swept every day, bed made in the morning, etc. I have a daily planner that I keep track of my work assignments and our appointments in.

I just don't know why I turned out so messy like my dad when I spent most of my time with my mom. She is pretty clean and tried to show me how to be clean too. It was very demoralizing to always be the most disorganized kid, never have my homework done because I forgot what it was or where it was, and to always hear from people (including my mom) how I was smart but lazy, disorganized, and irresponsible. I don't want her to experience that. I want her to feel how nice it is to take care of her things and her space, and be able to complete tasks in a timely manner, and how proud she can feel of herself when she is able to work hard and do more of what she wants to do because she isn't wasting time feeling anxious or bad or worried because she lost something important.
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#2 of 12 Old 10-14-2010, 05:38 PM
 
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I don't know, but I'm subbing because while I wouldn't say I'm filthy, I'm not exactly the best housekeeper. I'd rather my kids learn to be a bit more orderly than I am.

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#3 of 12 Old 10-14-2010, 05:56 PM
 
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Subbing.
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#4 of 12 Old 10-15-2010, 09:22 AM
 
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It's funny because I was just asking my mom to please tell me that I was forgetful and not one of those ultra-responsible kids growing up. I am pretty good at keeping my obligations straight in my head, but my dh and dd are those highly intellectual, no common sense types. They forget things, etc.. I am encouraged by the fact that I wasn't always so responsible as a child. I just wanted some proof that there was hope for my kids. I love their daddy, but he drives me bonkers. I have to tell him to do every little thing that he needs to do, and he gets frustrated that I'm always telling him.

Anyhow, my mom was one to just clean to keep the peace. I never learned to clean, so I have to seriously work at remembering to sweep up every day. I don't let it get way out of hand where I need to worry about bugs and other critters, but it isn't something I do automatically.

I was just explaining t my 6 YO yesterday that she is NOT being Cinderella when I tell her to hang up her jacket, put away her shoes and clean up the toys she left on the floor. That is just being a human. Humans clean up after themselves. It's not a concept that comes easily to some people.

Mom to: Honey (6/04) and Bunny (9/09)
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#5 of 12 Old 10-23-2010, 12:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I decided to make a list of chores that need to be done, at minimum, once a day, if not more. This sounds stupid, but I forgot all this when I moved away from home and had to relearn it. Most of these I now do every day, but I'd like to get into the habit of doing even more frequently so it takes less time at a go.

Make bed, first thing in the morning.
Pick up pajamas and put away to hamper or to closet.
Dishes. (Either after every meal, or leave soaking in tub and do after dinner.)
Sweeping. (Once in the morning, once at night. Or just once at night.)
Scooping the cat litter. (Or as-needed, like walking a dog.)
Wipe counters. (After each meal, or after dinner.)
Picking up. (After each activity, before moving on to the next, or after di... yeah. Clothes in the hamper at night.)

Stuff that should be done 3x a week.

Laundry. Diapers and clothes.
Wiping down bathroom, cleaning toilet... whether it looks dirty or not. Hey, it's what I was taught to do in the restaurant biz.
Mopping. Again, whether the floor appears to need it or not.

It does appear that the key to being clean is to have a routine that does not hinge on the appearance of things being dirty. By that time, there is quite a bit of work to do.

Yikes.

Anyhow, my goal this week is to step up keeping the litter box clean. That's normally my BF's job, but he lets it get really stinky, and I'm sick of it.
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#6 of 12 Old 10-23-2010, 12:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by mkksmom View Post
Anyhow, my mom was one to just clean to keep the peace. I never learned to clean, so I have to seriously work at remembering to sweep up every day. I don't let it get way out of hand where I need to worry about bugs and other critters, but it isn't something I do automatically.

I was just explaining t my 6 YO yesterday that she is NOT being Cinderella when I tell her to hang up her jacket, put away her shoes and clean up the toys she left on the floor. That is just being a human. Humans clean up after themselves. It's not a concept that comes easily to some people.
Yeah, it's not automatic for me either. But I want it to get that way. And my mom was a stress cleaner, or maybe a keep the peace cleaner. She cleaned and it was really stressful because we didn't help enough. I think sometimes I let things get messy because I think someone else should be helping to deal with them. Or like if I work hard at cleaning, I'll be letting someone take advantage of me. But that's really silly.

I like your concept of telling your daughter that it's not cinderella to clean up after yourself.

My dad, though famously filthy, mentioned to me the other day that it's good to work, and that it's good to like working. I'm not sure he meant housework, but I'm not sure he didn't. Anyhow, I think I want to keep things clean for me, because I like being clean, and because I feel more mentally productive when my environment is neat.

On Monday, I threw out all the trash in our car, and vacuumed it. It's nice not to have billions of tiny pieces of garbage all over it.
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#7 of 12 Old 10-23-2010, 05:57 AM
 
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I never learned to clean either. I don't recall ever seeing my parents doing any cleaning, my Nana lived with us and she cleaned the place. However our home never seemed grubby or messy.

Perhaps my parents did do cleaning but I just never noticed! The thing is they certainly never trained us to do any cleaning, or how to cook, or knit (even though my mum is a knitter unfortunately she didn't teach me how), or how to garden (my father is an amazing gardener but never tried to pass on his knowledge to me), or how to play tennis (my mother was a tennis coach but didn't teach me how to play....go figure.. ) But I am going very off topic here....

I think that there are reasons why our home never got messy. For one, we didn't have a lot of stuff, so it is hard to get too messy when you don't have that many possessions. Another thing is I think we were all fairly tidy by nature. We never ate in our bedrooms, so food was always consumed only in the dining room.

Although I used to be tidy as a child, something happened to me which somehow changed me, after a string of bad things happened in my life, the main one being my parents broke up and then got me to live on the other side of the world. I think I was enveloped by a sense of hopelessness for years, which expressed itself in how I lived. I went into a very gradual decline from neatness to messiness.

So I think there can be reasons you may not have fully examined for why you became messy like your dad?

Now that I am finally getting a handle on housework and neatness again, I have realised that one of the main things that helps, not only you, but helps your children to be able to have a good example and for it to be easier for them to assist, is to really cut down on the amount of things in the house. Everything follows on from this....once you have not many things, cleaning and organising all becomes so much simpler.

A routine is very important I have discovered, and that is something that doesn't come naturally to me, I have never been a routine person, more of a fly by the seat of my pants person. But I realised something had to change. So every day I now make the beds before going to have my morning shower. Every day I clean the sink and toilet before I leave the bathroom after my shower. Every day I clean the kitchen sink....because I do it every day it only takes seconds, a quick wipe over.

Once the kids see what you do, they will learn from you.

I must admit I am not great at getting the kids to help with housework, I tend to be a bit soft on them, but I do know that since I am keeping the house clean, and I have stopped ranting to them to clean their rooms, I just clean them myself...and the whole house is much calmer. I may not get enough help from them, but I am hoping that they are learning from seeing me clean so when they have their own homes, they will realise what they have to do.

Well that became a bit of an essay! Hope I have helped in some small way.

SAHM to three
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#8 of 12 Old 10-23-2010, 11:56 AM
 
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well I think a lot of my messy habits were from the way i grew up. We lived off and on with my grandma and while i wouldn't call her a full blown hoarder, she definitely had a lot of tendencies and still does, but she has gotten better, and my mom wasn't a neat person, but she kept the house okay, and she would wait on me and sister, get us drinks, we never had to do dishes, but once i got older, late high school, college, i would help out more. My dh is from India and expects me to bring him his food (he doesn't like eating at the table), drinks, take his dirty dishes, pick up his dirty socks from the living room, bring him snacks, etc. And this is still hard for me, pretty much we were both raised having our mother's wait on us, so it has been a big adjustment. Growing up as a kid, my sister and I's room was always messy, my mom didn't make us pick it up much and a lot of things got broken. Once I was a teenager and had my own room, i kept it decent enough.

Today I am still trying to relearn cleaning habits, I am trying to part with many things that most would feel like are clutter, I am now okay to throw away my moms old shopping lists etc, she died nearly 7 years ago and i do feel guilty when i throw something like that out, or like a picture of daycare kids she watched that i have no clue who they are, it is hard, but i don't want my ds to grow up thinking messy is normal, clutter is normal and lots of boxes of random papers is normal even. I am working on this, and trying to not acquire more clutter along the way. Ds has made a comment before that our home is messy and he wishes we lived at our old home because this one is so messy. Which it is not that messy, but i think that might have been my words rubbing off on him, as i have been going through massive purges of items pretty much since the summer and i always feel like we have too much stuff and we must get rid of so much.

I am working on him being responsible for his toys, which means picking them up at the end of the day. He also helps me with laundry sometimes, and dishes and general cleaning. I want him to be familiar with cleaning up, i don't want him to obsess over it.

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#9 of 12 Old 10-26-2010, 12:51 AM
 
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Subbing

This is a wonderful thread.

Clutterwarrior I was nodding while reading your post. My nature is SO resistant to a routine, and I have been procrastinating and putting it off- even though I KNOW it has to happen to let me be more free overall.

Thanks to all for the great support!

I have a toddler! 7/27/09
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#10 of 12 Old 10-26-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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I'm really enjoying this thread. I also didn't learn to clean. My mom is a hoarder, plus she worked ft, so our house was a disaster. Periodically, she'd get really made and yell that we needed to clean x, y, and z. She blamed us for the mess, BUT she never taught us how to clean it. So when you're small and you're looking at a mountain of crap in your room, you just feel hopeless not knowing where to start!

Now, as an adult I know HOW to clean, and I'm pretty good at it, I must say However, sometimes I let my own perfectionism get in the way. As in, if I don't have the time do a job thoroughly and perfectly, I leave it and tell myself I'll do it later. Of course, we all know what happens when you procrastinate. I've had to lower my standards a bit and just do things adequately. Ultimately, it makes me feel better just having things clean and mostly organized, even if they aren't Martha Stewart perfect.

I do think a routine is most important. I'm horrible at sticking to my own routines though, and thinking about following a routine while pregnant makes me never want to get out of bed! But I'm trying to stay on top of the laundry (and I've done a major weeding of the kids clothes, so it feels a lot more manageable now), and keep the dishes and kitchen clean. My bed is made every morning, but I haven't been good about teaching the kids to make their own beds and keep their rooms organized.

Dh and I just talked about this. We've had various incarnations of chore charts around here, but it just never works. The week is too crazy after school with sports, scouts, piano, and homework, that we're always stretched and stressed in the evening. Adding chores to that doesn't help anyone.

So, we're going to do a family cleaning on Saturday with lots of fun music and we're going to take the time to do mini lessons on HOW to clean things. Like, step by step, how to mop, how to clean a toilet, how to vacuum, etc. I even read a book that said to make a little certificate once the child has mastered a job, as "certified mop master" or something like that. It's kind of cute and I think my kids (at least the younger ones) would respond to that.

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#11 of 12 Old 11-05-2010, 08:42 PM
 
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Like, step by step, how to mop, how to clean a toilet, how to vacuum, etc. I even read a book that said to make a little certificate once the child has mastered a job, as "certified mop master" or something like that. It's kind of cute and I think my kids (at least the younger ones) would respond to that.
this sounds great! can you recommend sources for learning how to clean stuff?
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#12 of 12 Old 12-18-2011, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I was reviewing some of my old posts and came to this thread.  Well, things in my house have certainly improved in a year!  The two biggest changes we've made have been to have very short 10 minute family clean ups in the evening before bed, and for me to accept that I will do the dishes many times a day in order to have a clean kitchen.  I will sweep the floor many times a day.  We will pick up toys and craft supplies several times a day.  But luckily it will only take a few minutes to do any of these tasks, even if I do them five times in one day.  In fact, the dishes take the least time the more often I do them.  I do them after each meal.  And I can put things away even if I willtake them out again.  I can make the bed even if I will get in it again.  Life is a cycle.  LOL.

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