Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Working With Kids Under Your Feet

I wonder why I fight working with my kids under my feet, and after thinking about it today I am going to stop it.

It is difficult. I sweep the kitchen floor, they mess up the pile. I mop the kitchen floor, they get it muddy. I vacuum the living room, they destroy the playroom. I spend most of my days cleaning, organizing, or sweeping. It stinks, but the alternative to a disastrous house is stinkier.
Not my house-way too neat to be here.

It is part of my life and my kids' daily routine, their mom keeping the house picked up. Aside from daily tidings, I also have the yucky bathrooms and laundry-type-ish-larger-projects. Outside, I clear out leaves from under the deck, scrape cobwebs, and sort the recycling. It is not glamorous, but unless you have hired help, you do it too.

Once upon a time, I thought that I needed to keep the kids away while I did these chores. Then the house got messier; as they got bigger, so did their messes. They stopped taking naps. I was going to have to clean into the night. I wanted to read to them during the day. Play board games. Anything but clean with them. It became inevitable that I would need to clean with my kids under my feet.

And that is ok because I can teach them while I sweep, just in different ways from the board games and books. Cleaning with my children under my feet teaches them:

1. Cleaning is real life. Real life is hard and you have to clean up the messes in it. The kids see me sweat when I sweep, and see me figure out how to get marker off the couch: problem-solving skills.

2. The kids help clean. I believe kids should have freedom from adult responsibilities, but they need to know how to clean up after themselves. Ty can pick up his cars and Za can pick up her plastic slinky collection. It's a balance thing.

3. My behavior is an example for my kids. This is a given with parenting, all of the time, but it really trickles down to small tasks like cleaning too. Getting frustrated with menial activities is a poor examples. Shipping them off to the couch when I want to vacuum a small spot, another poor example. Working together - someone getting the dustpan while another wipes the table? Ahhh, teachable mommy moment.

Cleaning and scrubbing the house is an everyday part of life, and I am now going to do it with my children under my feet.

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