Welcome to my Large Family Helps series where I share with my readers some of my favorite tips for managing a household with lots of children. I don’t consider my own family “large,” but we have enough children (five) in our home that I have benefited greatly from utilizing these practices in our home.
I love the arrival of Spring! The fresh smells in the air. The sunshine. The new green grass. The buds on the trees. The birds chirping. Most of all, I love the blooming lilacs in my backyard. Aren’t they lovely? They’ll be especially lovely when they’ve bloomed. Oh, I can hardly wait!
With spring, however, comes the urge to open up the house and clean everything in sight. I just need to round up those dust bunnies and kick them out of the house.
Not long ago I was talking with a friend about the prospect of Spring cleaning with little ones in the house. It is difficult to take down those curtains, pull out the furniture, and all the house re-arranging that deep cleaning entails. To a toddler, it all looks like great new toys. Moms, however, do not agree. So, what’s a mom to do when she must get that Spring cleaning done?
I’m sure that I don’t have the perfect answer, but I’ll share with you what has worked for me. I did not have babysitters just standing by waiting to watch my children for free any time that I rang, and so I needed a solution that would work with my little ones in the house. I could not put them in their room alone all day while I cleaned. I tried to clean a bit each day, but by the time everything was cleaned it was getting dirty again.
The only option I had left was to involve everyone. This made for very slow progress when my children were 5 years old, 3 1/2 years old, and 1 1/2 years old, but everything got cleaned. They had so much fun helping! They felt accomplished, and were actually very helpful. I gave them jobs like picking up the toys that were amongst the dust bunnies when we pulled out the couch. Then they were in charge of cleaning the toys off and putting them back where they belonged. As you can imagine, this took them awhile. During which time, I cleaned away as quickly as I could. Some of their other jobs included washing window sills and baseboards, helping to mop the floors, and washing down the walls. Granted, they may not have gotten them quite as clean as I would have, but they were much cleaner than before we started. By the end of the two or three (or four) days that spring cleaning encompassed in my small house, everyone was feeling accomplished and refreshed and enjoying our clean home.
I know the prospect of cleaning with children sounds just horrific to some of you. I certainly thought it would be at my house, too. The previously mentioned 1 1/2 year old was quite a curious boy with an engineer’s mind. He flooded our house with the bathroom faucet twice in one year. I had visions of all the chaos that would ensue in my home if I gave the boy cloth and told him to wash anything. I guess he loved the power of responsibility~ he did not kill anything! He cleaned and helped with jobs the whole time! I was pleasantly surprised.
Since that time, Spring cleaning has become a semi-annual event at our house. Even with the additions of two more babies, we always manage to get everyone involved to deep clean the house once or twice a year. It does not take quite as long now that the children are older, and everyone is familiar with their jobs. We take school break for couple days and get everything clean and shiny.
In fact, it is only now that I can see the wisdom in the decision to involve everyone in the cleaning. My children are now 15 1/2 years old, 14 years old, 11 1/2 years old, 7 years old, and almost 2 years old. All the years of cleaning together has taught them many things. They now know how dirty a house can really get, but they also know how to clean it. Each of them will know just how to clean and take care of their home when they are older. The older ones help to teach the younger ones how to do each of the jobs~ thus my job is now a bit easier. The younger ones love to jump in and help because they see the older children doing it. It’s not a chore. It’s fun.
Our last baby was born on the first day of Spring. I really needed to rest postpartum, but the Spring cleaning urge hit anyway. My sweet children did almost everything for me. They really did not even need me to guide them. The older two instructed everyone else on what jobs to tackle. How’s that for fruit?
The investments that we make in teaching our children throughout the dailiness of life really does have benefit. It really is worth the extra time and attention that we give. It brings me once again to Galatians 6:9. I know Paul was not speaking about parenting, but it has truth, nonetheless.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Happy Spring Cleaning!