Begin with the introduction to the Reasonably Clean series to get the foundation and the linked table of contents for the series!
Here are Auntie Leila’s rules for not getting to that overwhelmed stage quite so quickly or frequently. Personally, my current practice involves maybe a third of her rules, and several of them I’m still kicking against. I am in the process of acquiring mats, though!
- Children keep toys in limited areas and do not get free range of the entire house and all its contents. Keep the living room a room free from trashing.
- Establish boundaries for toys & activities.
- Mobile infants & toddlers can spend happy playtimes in a pack n play several times a day.
- There must be industrial mats at every door.
- Shoes off at the door. No excuses.
Meal Time Rules
- Children help set the table and get ready for each meal.
- Children eat at the table only. Ever.
- Napkins and dishes and table manners are used during each meal, even if it’s only 8 minutes.
- Mom sits at the table for all meals, also. “If your own mother won’t eat with you, who will?”
- Keep it cheerful and consider playing an audio book while you eat.
- Children can keep their hands and face clean while eating.
- Children should receive permission to be excused before leaving the table.
- Children should clear their place, scraping off their plates and loading them in the dishwasher.
- Children should wash their hands before & after eating.
- Eaters in high chairs should not be let down before being wiped down with a warm cloth; then use that cloth to wipe down the chair.
- Set up a work flow
- If it’s pretty or really useful, it is ok to give it counter or wall space where you use it. Do your best to store things at their point of use. (Leila’s version allows for the cottage cluttery look, which most organization books scold you out of).
- Put incoming stuff on the kitchen table, where it must be dealt with by the owner before mealtimes. Never move or put temporary things on the counters, where they will be shoved and left and ignored. Remind everyone to come out their stuff anyway before the meals.
- Clean as you go: start with clean counters and an empty dishwasher and empty sink, stick things back in their place or into the dishwasher when you have a waiting moment in the process, use bowls and utensils in ‘hygienic order” rather than dirtying multiples, and before sitting down to eat, leave dirty dishes in a sink of warm water and put ingredients away and wipe down the counters.
- To the extent you can, attempt to have easy-clean materials in your bathrooms.
- Clean the bathroom while the children bathe.
- Keep your cleaning supplies in the bathroom (each bathroom?), so it’s quick and easy and convenient to get it clean.
- Don’t use a bucket for cleaning the bathroom, stop up the sink and use it, cleaning it last. Personally, I use a spray bottle with cleaner, so I don’t get why I’d need a bucket or a sinkful of water.
Thinking it Through
So, which of these do you already do? Which would you like to argue with? Which might you think about incorporating?
Both Matt and I are shoes-on-all-the-time people, and we live in a dry climate, so I’m not going shoeless in the house. But, I am working on getting mats for all our doorways and I’m even considering the sit-down-with-the-kids-for-each-meal. It might be one of those areas where it ends up giving more than it takes in the end.