Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Make Your Home a Haven: Cleaning with Littles?

Before getting to the overview of my day - I wanted to address a question left in the comments about getting cleaning done with littles around.
I have trouble with the children entertaining themselves while I try to clean etc. I can't seem to get much done :( Do you have any suggestions?
Wow - I get this! And, I am by no means an expert - hoping others will chime in on this as well! But, I did think about this throughout the day today and try to observe how I was getting things done. Here were a few things I noticed/thought of today ...

* Start early: I typically try to assign one or two small chores to myself to do before my children get up. Today, I washed a load of rugs and put them in the dryer and cleaned my bathroom before they were awake.

Note: I know the next thing you're all going to say is what time to your children get up!? I don't allow mine to get "up" until 7:30 am. I used to set a clock so they knew when it was 7:30 - but Emily sleeps later than that and it would wake her. Rachel is consistently up earlier. I either send her back to bed or let her sit on my bed (or on the Peace chair) and quietly and look at books. If she gets noisy or rowdy - it is back to bed until time to get up.

* Morning routine: after we've had breakfast - I empty the dishwasher and dish drainer, clean up breakfast and start a load of laundry. Since I do this every day - my children are very used to this and enjoy a few minutes to play before getting dressed, making beds, etc... If they start bickering or having trouble playing, I simply move them on to making their beds, getting dressed and teeth brushed. Then, when I finish my chores - I go and help them finish these things up and take care of Samuel getting dressed.

* Assign chores: I've tried to involve my children in my chores - but it doesn't seem to work well for all of us to be working on the same chore together. So, I assign the girls their own chores - typically two per day. I can get a chore of mine done while they are working on these things.

* Alternate play/work times: Something I discovered a couple of years ago was that if I alternated between work (chores) and playing with my children it made a huge difference.

For example, this afternoon when my girls were up from their Quiet Time (Samuel was still asleep) they asked if they could play on the computer. I agreed and set the timer, when the timer goes off - they have to turn it off. While they were on the computer I started on a chore of sweeping and mopping the kitchen and dining room floors. I finished that and then did the entry way floor.

Their timer went off and I suggested we play a game. We pulled out a game and played for a while. After that, I suggested they pick up some books near the next area I was going to work on while I fixed them a snack. And, I told them while they ate their snack - I was going to finish the floors.

After that, I planned my grocery shopping list and then played airplane trip and read a few books. All the time that I am working on one thing - I can be thinking ahead to what we will do next or what I will suggest next to the girls. I talked a little bit about this idea here.

* Plan ahead: This will depend on what works best for you in your home - but I have found that when I have a plan for the day instead of just winging everything - things go much more smoothly. I get more done, the tone is more peaceful and my children are happier.

* Use your time creatively: I usually do allow my children to watch one short movie each morning (30 minutes) which gives me a window of time to work on a chore.

If they are in the bathtub - I can clean that bathroom or fold clothes in the bathroom with them.

Folding clothes is also a good task to do while talking on the phone. I try to save chores like that to be done during those windows to make good use of my time.

Playing outside, coloring, playing with playdough or activity bags are other things we do for alternate activities.


Obviously not each of these ideas works for me every day. Nor, will all of these suit every home and mom! These are things I have tried that have worked from time to time at least though a lot of these are consistent things we do.

Have something else to share?! Let's encourage one another! Share your thoughts in the comments!


Anonymous said...

Well, with 7mo old twins the only time I get things done is when they are sleeping or when my husband is home to help.
They will sit in their walkers in the living room and play with a toy and watch/listen to one of their shows-veggie tales sing along,wiggles music show, or God made me, God made music show-while I tidy up rooms in that same area, but the chores I attmept are simple ones and there is generally much inturruption! Things tend to take twice or three times as long as they normally would:)
I have NO idea how moms who work outside the home full-time do it!

Becky said...

You might consider putting a dim lamp on a timer in the girls' room. We did that with a fish tank light and the children are good at knowing that it's not time to get up until the light comes on but it doesn't wake them if they are still sleeping.

Unknown said...

As a working mom, my housework schedule is very different. However, I think that the fact that I'm not home during the day makes my need for help in this area even greater! I have very limited time to do the housework. As much as I want my kids to learn how to help with chores, more often I need them entertained just so I can get things done!

LS said...

Excellent tips! Sounds a lot like how we run our home too. Except now that I'm expecting #4 a lot less of my chores get done as I just don't have the energy.