Have you seen this quote on Pinterest? “Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens and happy kids.” I kinda cringe every time I see this quote pop up. To me, the quote implies that I have to choose to have a clean and organized home or that I have to spend all of my time making my kids happy. I don’t believe I have to choose. I can have happy kids and a clean house and here’s how.
Teach Kids to do Household Tasks
As the mom I am not the only person in the house that can clean. I’m raising people who I hope will become productive, independent adults. If my goal is for my children to be able to thrive on their own, then I need to teach them how to work, especially how to do household tasks.
I started early teaching my kids to do housework. Several years ago, my husband’s friend stopped by our house while my kids were cleaning. He later remarked to my husband that he couldn’t believe our then 3 year old knew how to scrub the toilet. She knew how because we gave our kids age-appropriate tasks to do starting around age two.
I think a lot of parents think it’s easier to just do household tasks themselves because it takes a lot of time and patience to teach your children. I know I have struggled with this myself, but I kept trying. Now my children are 15, 13, 10 and 7. The three oldest know how to clean the house from top to bottom and the 7 year old is well on her way.
By teaching my kids how to clean, I have freed myself up to be able to do other important parts of motherhood.
Teach Kids to be Responsible for Their Stuff
When I was a teenager I was horrible about picking up after myself. One morning I came up the stairs from my basement bedroom to find Post-it notes on everything that I had left strewn around the living room.
My dad wrote a note on one of my shoes, “Darla’s shoe.” On my school bag, “Darla’s backpack.” There were many other items my dad had “labeled” for me. I have to say that I learned more about being responsible from this experience than I would have if my dad had just picked everything up for me.
As a mom, I have tried to teach my kids to be responsible for their own belongings. They have a designated spot for their backpacks and shoes. They have learned the routine of emptying their lunchboxes, rinsing out dirty containers and placing their lunchboxes in the pantry. They de-clutter their rooms every week.
Obviously, a house with a busy family living inside is bound to get messy. My house never looks perfect but teaching my children to be responsible for their own belongings and doing things like picking up after themselves keeps clutter at bay. Simply put, when my house feels organized I feel like I can be a better mom.
Teach Kids to Find a Need and Fill it
I have tried to teach my children to look around and see what needs to be done. When one of my sons was eight he joined Cub Scouts. Before his first den meeting I sat him down and talked to him about being respectful to his leaders and about helping them when he could.
Apparently, he took our little talk to heart because a few months later one of the den leaders pulled me aside and said that she was worried about my son. I was surprised when she told me that her concern was that he was always asking to help, and she wondered if he was having fun. He was always coming home from den meeting happy and excited to tell me what he had done. I assured the den leader that she didn’t need to worry. I was glad he was having fun but still being respectful and helpful.
Just a few days ago, I had to run out the door after dinner to get a child to a practice. When I left, my kitchen was a disaster zone, but when I returned, it was sparkling clean with dishes done, counters wiped off and floors swept. Two of my children had cleaned the kitchen without being asked. They knew what needed to be done and they did it.
Because I wasn’t worried about cleaning my kitchen that night, I was able to spend some time reading to my youngest before bed. My children are not perfect but they are learning to look for the things that need to be done around our home.
I think what that quote on Pinterest is trying to say is that we are good moms when we put our kids first. Are there times when I leave a sticky floor, a messy kitchen, or a pile of laundry to help my children?
But I’m also putting my kids first and trying to be a good mom by teaching them to work around the house, to be responsible, and to proactively do things that need to be done.
What do you think about the Pinterest quote? How do you put your kids first?
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