My girl, being a good sport for me! Always the ham!
Well, the most glorious thing has happened in my house.
My 9 year old can clean the WHOLE ENTIRE kitchen by herself. The pots and pans, the dishes washed and put into the dishwasher, the counters, the floor, and I am ALL KINDS OF HAPPY DANCING. For some of you this is no big deal, your kids have been cleaning since they are they were born. Practically. But not my kids!
Let me back up a minute.
I was on the phone with my sister-in-law interviewing her for Having a Martha House the Mary Way, (she’s rocks at cleaning) and she told me that her kids clean the kitchen every night after dinner. Her kids are 8 and 6. 8 AND 6!
I have clearly been slacking. My kids unload the dishwasher and set the table. Dude.
So I asked her to tell me more, and she said that her 8 year old son does it all, dishes, pots, pans, counters, BADA-BING-BADA-BOOM. And I was all, “REEEALLY?!” Her 6 year old loads the dishwasher, and she has 15 minutes to do it or she has to do the dishes for her brother the next night. THAT’S some motivation.
Now listen, my sister-in-law is lovely and kind and gentle and is a great mom. She is teaching her children to take care of a home, and she’s knocking it out of the park. Which is why I interviewed her. Which is why I’m going to do everything she tells me to do.
Which brings me back to my kitchen and my 9 year old.
I said to my girl, “Honey, it’s time you learn to clean the kitchen. You are old enough, and I need your help because we are a family and we help each other. Okay?”
She looked at me suspiciously. I could see the challenge in her eyes. But I was going to do this; I was going to teach her to clean the kitchen, top to bottom. And boy did she have her work cut out for her! I made her learn on a Monday, after the weekend, after dishes were everywhere.
Sponge fun, thanks to the awesome folks at Grove Collaborative and their new pop-up sponges!
I showed her how to wash off the dishes before putting in the dishwasher. As she did that, I decided to make her a pretty little chart with steps to cleaning the kitchen. When I was finished, I, smile on my face, showed her the chart. She looked at it, grabbed a pen, and PROCEEDED TO PUT SAD FACES ALL OVER IT. Oh, ya’ll, I was not having that.
I told her that in addition to cleaning the kitchen, she was now going to have to make the chart all over again, and she had to copy it just as I had made it.
She did it. And when she was done, there were SMILEY FACES all over it. Mom wins.
Back to the kitchen…
I taught her how to do the rest, and she washed and scrubbed and swept, and I as SO proud of her. She had mentioned a few times that making her clean the kitchen would be an excellent punishment. We had a talk about attitude. But here is the best part: when she was finished, I watched her as she walked out of the kitchen, turned around, looked over worked, and SMILED. I could see accomplishment in her eyes. She felt good about her work.
The next time she cleaned the kitchen, she did it without fuss.
This is a glorious new beginning. I mean, truly, I think there are angels singing somewhere on behalf of all moms. HOPE has sprung!
Next I will be teaching my son and youngest to clean the kitchen, because what I know now is that my kids are capable of doing more than I have given them credit for. Also, I just needed to ante up and do the work of teaching them. Because you know what, it’s worth it.
Not only do I know have legitimate help cleaning, but they are learning valuable skills and their characters are being refined. So good.
But mostly, I DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL BY MYSELF!!!!!! WOO HOO!!! Okay, my husband helps. Actually, he’s amazing. But now we also have the kiddos helping, and that just rocks.
Here are some encouraging words in getting our kids to clean from my sister-in-law Sarah, AKA, cleaning ninja:
“As much as I can, I allot to each child according to his/her age and ability, a task. I work with them and teach them the first one or two times on the “how to’s” and then they are required to help out when asked, needed or scheduled. The old “many hands make light work” couldn’t be truer. When a job has been well done, I verbally or sometimes monetarily praise the child. If the child inquires is the job “well done”, I often ask them if they did their best and if they would be pleased with the outcome if Jesus were to see it. I don’t want the effort made to be for me, but for the LORD. I believe having a clean home creates a sense of calm in the home, although keeping it clean can feel meaningless, redundant, and constant. However, if we view our work as serving others and by doing so, loving them, it changes our heart attitudes. When we serve those in our home by taking care of it we become more Christlike. Jesus Himself, came to serve us, we can do the same.
I fail so many times. Our God is not a condemning God, but a gracious one, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness! Ultimately, all our efforts in this life are to glorify Him.”
There you have it! Go forth and clean NOT ALONE!
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