In the beginning, there was me. And then there was Me (plus HIM). And it was good.
But then, there was me (plus him) plus HER, plus HIM, and then one more HER. They say “two’s company, three’s a crowd”, so what does that make four, and five? Well for us, it meant chaos, craziness, and disorganization.
I was not born with the organizational gene. For me, to manage my home is really, really hard. I found a quote awhile back that made me feel good temporarily, which I hung up on my refrigerator. It said: “Cleaning house while kids are still growing is like shoveling snow while its still snowing…” I had found justification for my inability to conquer. But none of those sayings helped me deal with the everyday tasks that can seem so unappreciated, and meaningless, day in and day out.
Where will my help come from?
Like most, a housekeeper was not an option financially. In my despair, it dawned on me one morning: I had a HOUSEFUL of help, but I had never taught them how to help. My kids were perfectly capable of helping if only I could do a few things to set them up for success. So after much thought, researching, application of creativity (and time on Pinterest), here are the five things I did to help my kids, help me.
1. A place for everything, and everything in its place.
This meant: well-labeled drawers for (everything) clothes, toys, a hamper for dirties, and then a laundry basket of their own so they can put away their own laundry and clean their own room. When I say “Go clean your room,” they actually know how because they know where everything goes. Sad to say, I didn’t have this in place already. So, I bit the bullet, and just did it. It was well worth it. I actually asked a friend who is gifted in organization to come over and help me get it set up.
2. The Great Toy Debate.
I decided to make a policy: NO toys in bedrooms — only in the “Playroom”. Bedrooms are for time alone and sleeping, and getting dressed. This way it keeps the mess contained to ONE room (in theory). If you don’t have an option for a playroom, you can just apply #1 to the toys in the bedroom. Well-Labeled, and a place for everything.
Keep a cabinet of plastic cups and bowls, and acceptable snacks at their level so that when they come ask for a drink of water, I can say “Sure, get it yourself.”
4. The Ticket System.
I came up with a ticket system where they could earn tickets for doing chores and extra things I asked them to do. Once they’ve earned enough tickets, they can trade them in for rewards. As of last night, I ordered my daughter an American Girl because after a few months she had saved up over 500 tickets!
5. Only introduce one new thing at a time.
Change can be overwhelming and intimidating. With all these new things I was trying to implement, I decided to introduce one thing at a time, starting with the Ticket system, so they would get excited about helping. Take it one day at a time, with ONE new goal a week for you to instill, and the kids to learn. Otherwise you’ll be dealing with frustrated kids, and burnout.
These simple five things I did to help my kids, help me were game-changers.
Other keys to success:
- Adopt a new philosophy: As I like to say, “Never do for a child, something that they can do themselves”.
- Realize, “I CAN do it, but it won’t look like the way everyone else does it, AND THAT’s awesome!” Realize your inner domestic “divatude” is there for a reason — to bless your own family with all it’s own dynamics.
- Commit and give it a good ol college try. Don’t quit too soon. You may need to write yourself notes to remind yourself not to do it for them, or to remember to reward with tickets… I did. It’s a new habit, it’ll take time.
- Enforce. Enforce. Enforce. All this will be for nothing if you fail to enforce your new system. You have to constantly remind them to pick up their room, their toys before dinner, their dirty laundry off the floor.
- Have grace for yourself. And your kids. Laugh a lot. Help a lot — in the beginning. Before too long, you’ll be coaching a team of conquerors, instead of trying to do it all yourself, and nagging.