Children can, and should, clean the house. Mine started this important habit several years ago…slowly but surely at the age of 5, beginning with dusting. Upon the arrival of their 8th birthdays, they earned the privilege of learning to clean the bathroom! Now, at ages 18, 14, and 11, they rotate cleaning each floor of the house. Three kids, three floors, it’s perfect!  Almost. Every week they receive a list of individual responsibilities as a reminder. While they are not as thorough as you and I, and things get missed, the more important element is that essential habits for successful living are being instilled in my children, AND our house is in pretty darn good shape!

Every three months or so, for my own peace of mind, I go through the house and do a deeper clean. Even with the best plan in place, things manage to end up where they don’t belong i.e. papers, books, toys, clothes, tools, etc. So, my mission last weekend was to reclaim my house. I actually had a free Saturday (shocking)! I warned all that I was cleaning the entire house and they either needed to help or stay out of my way (not surprisingly no one was to be found Saturday morning). After sleeping late, I gathered my cleaning supplies into one bag and headed to the master bathroom (my least favorite room to clean, so I start there).  I went through the house room by room. Top down cleaning and then around the room is how I roll. Anything upstairs that belonged down went into a basket at the top of the stairs. After finishing the top floor, I took the basket down and put those items in their home locations. Using the same routine for each floor, nothing was missed; hair bands in the living room found their way to the bathroom, cold air returns were dusted, toys in the basement found their way back to bedrooms, sinks were scrubbed, floors were mopped, and no pillow was left unturned.

Five hours later (yes, only 5 hours), my house shone like a new penny. There was a place for everything and everything was in its place. What an accomplishment…love that feeling of a job well done. My youngest even noticed how good the house looked when he returned (after he was sure the job was done). For the moment the house is in order. Woe to the child (or man) who makes the first mess.

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