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Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring Square2

Spring fever, for me, is usually accompanied by this insane desire to declutter, demuck, and deep clean everything in my house. It is akin to the nesting instinct I always get in the last couple months of pregnancy. It’s like, I don’t care what is on my schedule, I’m getting to every item on this list of “Crap to Clean.”

I thought I’d share my list with you in case you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at the prospect of spring cleaning. I’ve organized each item by action.

Declutter

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This means to go through everything and throw out what you don’t use and can’t donate.

  • Clothes/accessories
  • Food
  • Toiletries/makeup
  • Medicine
  • Dishes
  • Cleaning supplies

  • Tools
  • Linens
  • Toys/books
  • Craft/art supplies
  • Papers
  • Electronics/wires

Deep Clean

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These are some things you can deep clean, meaning wiping down every nook and cranny.

  • Fridge/freezer
  • Stove/oven
  • Microwave
  • Toilet

  • Sinks
  • Tub/shower
  • Washer/dryer
  • All floors

Wash

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Here is a list of things you should wash that you probably don’t get around to very often. 

  • Baseboards
  • Door frames
  • Ceilings/walls
  • Light fixtures/fans
  • Windows/sills
  • Window coverings

  • Blinds
  • Pillows
  • Blankets/quilts
  • Mattresses (and flip)
  • Rugs
  • Furniture with fabric

Dust/Polish

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In order to keep the wood in your home shiny and healthy, it should be polished at least once a year. Here are also a few other things that could benefit from a once a year dusting and polishing.

  • Furniture
  • Silver
  • Cabinets

  • Wood trim
  • Items of decoration

I made a fun little printable for you if you’d like to stick it on your fridge and check things off as you go. Come on, I know you love to check stuff off a list. It’s weird how psychologically it makes us feel more accomplished.

If you would like this cute printable to get you started, go ahead and click on it to print or download. It’s free. You’re welcome ?

Download (PDF, 631KB)

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Have you started your spring cleaning yet? What is the worst part for you?

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Quit Your Job as the Maid: 4 Step Training Process

***This is the fourth post in a series called Quit Your Job as the Maid. Post 1Post 2, Post 3

Train Square

My 4-year-old son has this…we’ll call it an issue…where he wants to change his clothes a thousand times a day. You can bet that doesn’t go over well with this Laundry Slave. The other day he wanted to wear one shirt to school and then bring a different one to change into after school. I gave him a flat “no” and he continued to insist. I finally said, “When you’re ready to do the laundry, you can change your clothes as often as you want…” He cut me off and said, “Ok, I’m ready for you to teach me.” ? I hadn’t realized I had offered an invitation.

Here’s a 4 step training process to help you follow through once you’ve invited your kids to learn something new.

1. Acknowledge

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While studying to be a teacher I learned about all kinds of ways to motivate children. There are sticker charts, verbal praise, silent praise (such as a high-five), rewards in the form of treats, toys, and privileges. There are all sorts of extrinsic (or external) motivators. But what really struck a chord with me is what Vicki talks about and comes from the psychologist Rudolf Dreikurs, which is intrinsic (or internal) motivation. That is, doing something because you know it’s right and it makes you feel good on the inside. It is very unlikely our young children will develop this if we continue to reward them with praise or treats every time they do something right.

From the time my son was very young I would say, after cleaning up a mess, “Awww. I love it when our house is clean. It feels so good! Don’t you think?” I would try to draw attention to the internal feeling that we get when everything is put away and cleaned up. I would point out, “It’s so nice to be able to find our things because they’re put away where they should be.”

Before I knew it, he started pointing out the same things and feelings. He actually appreciates the feeling of a clean house. That doesn’t mean he’s always clean, but neither am I. When it’s time to clean up though, he’s all about putting things away and making everything look nice. He genuinely likes the feeling he gets afterward.

In order to fuel their intrinsic motivation we can’t keep giving an empty, “good job” every time they do something right. We don’t want to teach them to do things only to please us, although it may start out that way. It is far more effective to show them that we noticed what they did, point out the benefits, and let them know we appreciate it.

Not only does this teach self-motivation but it also helps instill a sense of gratitude in our children. If we not only acknowledge their effort but then express gratitude for it, in a specific way, it will help them to feel that sense of contributing to the family. It helps them to feel like they matter and are important and depended upon. They are also likely to mirror that gratitude and be more appreciative of others’ efforts.

We can do this by:

  • Acknowledging their accomplishments: by saying something like, “I see that you picked up your dirty clothes and put them in the hamper this morning.”
  • Bringing attention to their abilities: such as, “man, making toast can be hard sometimes but I see you did it all by yourself.”
  • Asking them to talk about how they did it: by using questions such as, “How did you know how to do that? What did you do first? What was the hardest part? What did you do to solve it?”
  • Once they master a task, moving on: there is no need to keep discussing it once they’ve mastered it. Bring the attention to the new task at hand.

2. Build

By looking at the information you collected during the observation period you will notice the things your child can do but doesn’t always do on a regular basis without reminding. You can bring up this list and invite your child to pick one thing from that column to work on next. Brainstorm ways to help her remember to do it or make it easier to accomplish. This step of the learning process is much easier if you start with something the child already knows how to do but doesn’t do it regularly. It is less stressful and instills confidence in the child to be able to accomplish more difficult tasks in the future.

3. Teach

Laundry2

This process is very similar to the teaching model I learned while studying elementary education. It is “I do, we do, you do.” This gradual approach to handing over the reins helps children develop confidence in their ability and excitement to try new things on their own.

First, we model how to do something. Then we invite the child to do it with us. Eventually, we allow them to try it on their own. You may consider ways to accommodate her if a step is too difficult. For example, I had to move the hooks lower for my son to be able to hang his coat up by himself.

It is also helpful, if it is a task they already know how to do, to do kind of a pretest. Ask the child to show you how she does it. You may notice that she knows most of it but is missing a couple of steps. Acknowledge what she does right and then model the parts she needs to work on. Break it down into small, manageable steps. Allow time for her to practice and master the skill. Make sure you’re consistent and have faith that she’ll develop the habit.

Habits 

It is especially helpful, when developing a new habit, to have what experts call an anchor. It is something that happens right before the habit that will serve as a built-in reminder. For example, we brush our teeth after we eat. The act of eating is a reminder that we need to brush our teeth. We put our dirty clothes in the hamper after we take them off. Anytime you can point out an anchor and associate it with that new habit they’re working on, they will be that much more likely to remember.

Systems

My first job was at a burger joint called The Malt Shop. I was only 14 and felt a little overwhelmed during the training process because I felt like there were so many things to remember. It was reassuring to know they had systems in place, especially when it came to starting and ending a shift. There were certain steps to take and it was all written down. If I was ending my shift and was in charge of cleaning the shake area, I had a written list of all the things I had to make sure were stocked and cleaned before I could leave. For the first few shifts I had to look at the list constantly. Over time, I got into the habit of doing everything on the list without having to look at it.

I believe we can easily implement these systems in our homes and it will make the training process so much easier for both us and our kids. If our kids can read, make a simple checklist for them as they learn certain skills. If their job is the bathroom, keep a little checklist under the sink that shows all the parts of cleaning the bathroom: put everything away, scrub the tub, scrub the toilet bowl, wipe down the counter and sink, wipe down the toilet, wash the mirror, vacuum and mop the floor. If your kids are too young to read, make a list with simple pictures of each step. My 4-year-old son has a list of things he needs to do every day before we leave the house. They are 3 simple clipart pictures I printed and taped to his door. They are a boy making his bed, a girl putting her dirty clothes in the hamper, and two little kids putting away their toys. 

4. Maintain

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This step is one of the hardest because it requires ongoing commitment and consistency. We tend to want to step in for a couple of different reasons:

1. When we’re in a hurry.

Keep it in perspective and do your best to patiently stay put and watch as your child continues to master these skills. Get in the habit of allowing extra time so you don’t feel pressured to jump in and help.

2. When we realize they do a lot more than their peers.

Our children are running their own race and there is absolutely no reason why we should ever look at our kids’ friends and wonder if we’re expecting too much. Remember, this isn’t just to help us out, it helps our kids develop their own sense of worth and confidence. They’re fine, I promise.

And there it is folks, the last step to quitting your job as the maid. Just think about how much your kids are going to benefit from learning to do all these things and the freedom you will have once they master it all!

Know that this training process is an investment you must make in the beginning. It takes time to teach our kids new skills. However, once they’re taught, we don’t have to worry about it anymore. If we help them develop these habits when they’re young, we can look forward to many years of enjoying more time with them and being more emotionally available in order to develop a close relationship. 

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Where are you starting with your kids? What part of this process do you think will be the most difficult to implement? How will you overcome that?

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Quit Your Job as the Maid: The Art of the Invitation

***This is the third post in a series called Quit Your Job as the Maid. Post 1, Post 2

Invite SquareYou’re probably thinking “inviting” your kids to do chores sounds like a joke. Sure, we can invite all we want but they won’t do anything unless they are bribed, nagged, reminded, and punished if they don’t. People who talk about “inviting” kids to do stuff they don’t want to do are up in the night.

I hear ya. I think about my two-year-old who is the Queen of Stubborn and think, “Invite her to pick up her toys? Haha..riiiiight.” In fact, one day when I told her to pick up her toys, she grabbed them and started walking toward the toy box. About halfway there, she stopped, threw them on the ground, and started waving her arms in the air and screaming. As if to say, “Wait, what?! What am I doing?! She wanted me to put my toys away and I almost actually did?!”

So then I started thinking about this idea of invitation. It’s so counterintuitive to think that if kids won’t do it when we tell them to, what makes us think they will do it when we ask them to? Except that, it’s also insane to think that the way we’ve been telling them to do it all their lives isn’t working, so we must need to keep doing that. I was ready for a change. She’s not doing it when I tell her to, I guess I could try asking…

toys

Then something amazing happened. She actually picked up her toys! Like, several days in a row now. And it’s funny, I thought I would feel like a grovelling mother who turns all parental authority over to a two-year-old tyrant. But it didn’t feel that way at all. I am confident that if I keep up this patient, inviting parental role, she will continue to pick up her toys. It’s really me I’ve got to worry about. I know how close those raging feelings of frustration are to the surface. If I can keep those feelings under control while I “invite” my kids to clean up, I actually believe they will do it.

Granted, they are young enough to work this reverse psychology on. Older kids will probably get that you’re trying a new tactic, and that’s ok. They will still feel empowered by this process and hopefully more aware of the “why” behind it. Just trust the process and give it a try.

If you’ve been following this series and doing the “homework” then you are aware of what your children are capable of and where they technically should be and are ready to fill in the gap. You should have a list of:

•   What your kids can do and will do

•   What your kids can do but don’t do

•   What they can’t do because they haven’t been trained

It’s important that in these 2-3 observation days, you commit to not reminding or nagging your kids to do anything. This is the only way to get accurate information. If they only do it when you remind them, then it falls in the second column of things they can but don’t do (on their own). This list is an excellent starting point for you to build on what they know and help them create essential habits that will make both of your lives easier in the long run.

As a quick sidenote, don’t expect this to work like magic in one day. Vicki explains that when kids are used to a certain behavior from their parents (ie. yelling, nagging, reminding) and there is a sudden change, they become suspicious. This is a good thing because it gets their attention. Expect them to decline your invitation the first few times. As long as they are in the position of choice, they will feel empowered and will eventually be intrigued by this new way of getting them to do chores. The younger the kids, the easier it will probably be to get them to say “yes.” Keep at it and don’t give up!

1. Choose the time

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Choose a time to have a conversation with your child (individually) when you are feeling patient and calm. Remember you may have to have this conversation many times in the future but lay it all out in the open and explain to your child that there are 3 main reasons you are committed to training him to learn how to run a home:

  • He will leave home eventually and it is your job to teach him how to take care of himself and his future home.
  • It is the only way you won’t have to resort to nagging, reminding, and threatening him about helping around the house.
  • If he wants you to spend more time with him doing fun things then you need some help around the house because you can’t do it all by yourself. Would he rather have a mom or a maid?

2. Brainstorm

Brainstorm together tasks and skills your child wants to learn and master. If she is included in this process it will have her even that much more invested and she will feel listened to and validated when it comes to what she knows and what she still needs to learn. Go ahead and point out what you noticed during your observations and see what she thinks about it. You may want to explain that you noticed she always gets dressed by herself but doesn’t always remember to put her dirty clothes in the hamper. 

3. Ask

Let your child make the decision to choose one skill from the list that she would like to learn first. Don’t jump in and say which one you think is best, allow her the power of choosing. This will keep her motivated and eager to learn since she was the one who chose the task.

4. Invite

Clean

Finally, invite him to learn how to do it. Next week we will talk about a training approach that sets your child up for success. The art of invitation is where it starts though. When children are in a good place, a place of empowerment and choice, they are so much more eager and excited to learn. When they are coerced to do something unpleasant, the outcome is infinitely different.

Your Homework

Try to talk to each of your children this week and explain that there are going to be some changes. Work through this invitation process to explain why you’re making some changes and to get a clear plan of what they want to work on. 

This concept of extending an invitation isn’t as crazy as it might seem. Think about how you react when someone tells you what to do as compared to when someone invites you to learn something new. Our children are just tiny, emerging adults and if we want to be respected, we must learn to respect them as well. This doesn’t mean we are undermining our authority as the parent or the adult, it just means that we are teaching respect by example.

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What do you think about the concept of inviting our kids to learn new skills? What are your concerns with trying this method?

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Invite FB

Cleaning Kits for Kids

Cleaning Kits Square2Sometimes it feels like all kids speak the love language of Receiving Gifts. They always get so excited for any event that involves presents.

Why not take advantage of that and give them a little gift to get them excited about cleaning! This is especially helpful for little kids, if you get your teenager a cleaning kit, he’s probably going to roll his eyes at you 🙂

I made a little trip to the dollar store and for less than $10 I got enough stuff for two cleaning kits for both my kids.

clean Spray3

I also saw some fun stuff on Amazon if you want to be more elaborate. They have little vinyl gloves for little hands (when we get to learning to clean the bathroom, those will be a necessity). They have little brooms and mops that are mostly intended for play but a lot of the reviews said they worked for cleaning up real messes.

Here are the things I included in my cleaning kits for kids ages 4 and 2:

  • 1 small spray bottle (filled with water and vinegar as an all purpose cleaner that isn’t toxic and won’t require an ER visit if ingested)
  • 1 microfiber cloth for drying
  • 1 scrubbing pad for cleaning
  • 1 duster
  • 1 handheld broom and dustpan
  • 1 mini apron (I can’t take credit for this one, my mom made them–cuz I asked her to and she’s amazing like that)
  • 1 bucket to hold it all (doubles as a basket to carry toys from all over the house to their toy box)

Cleaning Apron

Now, I’m not saying that after giving this cleaning kit to your preschooler he will be all about cleaning up every little mess. Well, he might be, for like a day. But just like any other toy, the newness will wear off and eventually you’ll have scrubbers and dusters scattered all over the house. 

This is why I suggest putting this cleaning kit up and being clear, from the get go, that it is only allowed out when it’s time to clean. This will make it special and, hopefully, your kids will be begging for a chance to clean. Well whad’ya know, there might be a secret to getting kids to clean after all!

If you’re keeping up on the Quit Your Job as the Maid series this month, you’re probably starting to realize how much we should be teaching our kids about cleaning. Stay tuned because on Monday, we’re going to be talking about how to introduce this idea to your kids in a way that will set you, and them, up for success. Including this gift as part of your “invitation” to start taking more responsibility will add that much more “cream to the tacos” as my husband puts it. 

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Tell me what you include in your cleaning kits and how your kids respond! 

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Quit Your Job as the Maid: 3 Stages of Learning

***This is the second post in a series called Quit Your Job as the Maid. Post 1

***This post contains affiliate links. Anything purchased from an affiliate link on this website will result in a small commission for me, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support 

3 Stages of Learning Square

Have you ever caught your kids doing something that you had no idea they were capable of? I think about the time my three-year-old made his own eggs. I was keenly aware in that moment that I wasn’t giving my son enough credit or enough responsibility.

In Duct Tape Parenting, Vicki gives us an excellent visual of how much we should be expecting of our children. She explains the Timeline something like this:

Timeline

If we realize that we have just 18 years to train our children to be adults, then we must also realize that by age 9, half of that training should be done. That’s mind-boggling isn’t it! Even when I look at my son who is almost 5, I think he is still far away from having 1/4 of the skills to live on his own. If you think this is a little extreme, keep reading to see how these skills are broken down into 3 stages or windows of time. Vicki explains that there are ideal windows in which to learn certain skills and if we follow this layout, we will receive less push back from our kids and they will be more eager and willing to learn at each stage.

Birth to Age 9: Life and Self Skills

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Babies are constantly learning new skills and we hardly have to help them. They are eager to master one stage so they can move onto the next. First they sit up, then they crawl, then they walk, then they run. We are standing by, cheering them on and watching them change before our eyes. If we encourage this learning and refrain ourselves from saving them every single time they start to fall, they will grow up confident in their own abilities.

This window of time is ideal to teach basic self and life skills. This includes:

  • getting themselves up and ready for school
  • being responsible for their own homework
  • cleaning house and doing laundry
  • answering phones and making appointments

  • help with paying bills
  • creating shopping lists
  • learning time management
  • creating their own routines

There is a more exhaustive list in the book and when you look at it, it seems like so much!

In fact, in another part of the book Vicki explains that by kindergarten, her 5-year-old had learned how to get herself up, get ready, make her own cereal for breakfast, pack her own lunch, and head off to the bus, all on her own. Remember however, this kind of training doesn’t happen overnight and in the following posts in this series, we’ll learn how to train our kids and how to determine which skills to focus on.

Ages 10-15: Social Skills

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Once our kids are heading into adolescence, they are much less interested in learning how to mop the floor and their life begins to evolve around their friends. This is an ideal time to learn social skills and how to be strong in social situations. These skills include:

  • Making friends
  • Saying no
  • Talking to a teacher about a grade
  • Making phone calls
  • Fighting for what you believe in
  • Accepting those who are different

  • Accepting themselves
  • Defining their identity
  • Exploring new interests
  • Conflict resolution
  • Prioritizing
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Respect

It’s easy to see why so many older kids give us such negative attitudes about cleaning up when it isn’t something they’ve been doing since they were very young. With so much brain power being focused on learning these kinds of skills, it is much harder to devote some of that to learning basic cleaning skills. If it isn’t a habit already in place, it will be so much more difficult to develop during this window of time. We want our kids to be resilient and responsible. We want them to be able to stand up for themselves among their peers. If that’s the case, we need to invest in them when they’re young so that when they get to this stage, they have the confidence and available mental energy to do so.

Ages 16-18: Life Skills and Lessons

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Once puberty is on the downhill slide and our kids are approaching high school graduation, they start to realize how much they have left to learn! This small window of time is where a lot of important skills must be learned, many of which are not taught in school. Some of these things include:

  • Buying a car
  • Dating
  • Finding a job
  • Budgeting their finances and opening a bank account

  • Handling offers of drugs or alcohol
  • Choosing a college and applying
  • Following through with plans
  • Resiliency
  • Taking responsibility for their choices

If these skills can be mostly mastered before age 18, think of how much easier your child’s college experience or work experience will be! I remember getting to college and was lacking in so many of these skills that it was completely overwhelming. How could I focus on school when I couldn’t even pay my bills?! I wish I had been a little more ready to deal with those parts of life before I left home.

List of Age Appropriate Chores

For the purpose of this series, I will be focusing on the life skills portion of this timeline, namely ages 0-9. Here is a list of chores or “life skills” most 9 year-olds should possess and a goal for you to work towards with your younger children.

  • Getting up on their own
  • Getting themselves showered and ready
  • Making breakfast
  • Packing lunch and backpack
  • Organizing and turning in homework
  • Washing dishes
  • Doing laundry
  • Cleaning bathroom
  • Making shopping lists

  • Vacuuming
  • Sweeping and mopping
  • Learning how to cook
  • Making bed
  • Answering phones
  • Help with paying bills
  • Making appointments
  • Setting the table
  • Dusting

Once these skills are in place and become habit, it will be much easier for them to continue while learning other, more advanced skills.

Your Homework

Your homework is, over the next week or so, to observe each of your children and to write down, in three different columns, the following: 

1. What your kids can do and will do

2. What they can do but don’t do

3. What they can’t do because they haven’t been trained

It’s important that while you observe, you refrain from reminding, nagging, or threatening. Just simply observe what your kids do on their own and without reminding. This will help you prepare for the next post when we talk about how to invite our kids to learn and do more.

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Does this resonate with you? Do you think it’s possible? Have you tried it?

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