woman cleaning with daughter. family clean activity.

How "Family Clean Time" Saved my Sanity as a Mom

Living in a small apartment with 3 kids ranging in age from 1 to 16, makes for a very messy house, very quickly. I tried to keep up all day long. Picking up random shoes, scrubbing sippy cups and trying to figure out what in the heck molded itself into our carpet by the door??

It became trying and tedious. I slowly felt myself being sucked into the chaotic exhausting mess. It was a constant, all day, pain point. My day revolved around cleaning up after other people. However, I was determined not to watch my life dissolve into a dark hole of despair. This was when “family clean” was born.

It has been the absolute best solution to our problem.

This is how it works:

We pick a time every night where everyone in the house cleans, for us this is usually after dinner. This means everyone stops everything. The T.V. goes off, phones go up and everyone gets a job. We spend 20-30 minutes cleaning as a family, and the house looks spick and span every. single. night.

It feels amazing! The benefits are numerous. In fact, I’ll list them numerically.

  1. I’m happy and less stressed. Previously I had been that frustrated mom that just could not understand why it was so stinking hard to keep a house decent enough that you enjoyed being there. But now, I can let go the responsibility.
  2. Mornings are way better. Our kitchen has a clean start every day. Breakfast is easy to make, I get my coffee faster and the kids have a fresh clean area to play. (Which gets absurdly messy in all of 5 minutes, but that’s ok because….)
  3. I don’t worry about cleaning anything until family clean time. I’ve allowed myself to let it go, knowing that we’ll get to it tonight. This allows me so much more time and mental freedom to get other productive stuff done, and not just spinning my wheels cleaning.
  4. We spend time doing something together. No, it’s not fun time, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not quality time. We joke, laugh or just talk. This is actually the time we do some of our best connecting.
  5. No one complains about having to clean. This didn’t happen at first, but after a few days, it was kinda like magic. Once everyone realized that this is just part of our day now, no one complains.
  6. It reinforces to the kids know they are an important part of our functioning household. We often mention during the cleaning routine how much we appreciate them pitching in. We also let them know that they are an important part of making sure our family life runs smoothe. Everyone is needed for things to run smoothly. Everyone has their part they need to pitch in on.
  7. Our house looks amazing! 

How to add in family clean to your own nightly routine.

There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding to add in “family clean time’ to your own household.

Discussing the reasons with your family is key

It’s necessary that everyone is on the same page about why this is happening. This is the best time to explain that everyone in the family is important. The way we explain it is, each member of the family is important. That in order for a family to hold strong, they must work together.

I also like to point out to them that it would be absurd to place all the cleaning responsibilities on just one of them and ask them to imagine the feelings they would have in that situation. (Stress, anger, resentment) They would wonder why is no one helping me? Then you could point out that family doesn’t let others take on all that stress themselves, and this is the solution to make sure everyone feels cared for.

I know that talking about emotions and cleaning at the same times may seem weird or “extreme” but it’s not. As mothers, I think we take on a lot of responsibilities and feel guilty for designating some of those to our children, or get angry when they complain or try to refuse to help when we do ask By talking about the emotional side of working together, you are making this a positive experience in which serves two purposes.

  1. It increases the emotional intelligence of your kids, which is a lifelong skill they need and should be sprinkled into everyday life. &
  2. Gets them to see the emotions you experience when they don’t help.

Set rules that everyone sticks to

For us, that meant no electronics (With the exception of music playing sometimes.) And everyone whos in the house has to help, no excuses. “I have homework” doesn’t fly. It usually only takes us 20 minutes, and that’s not a valid excuse. Neither is age, our 11 month old even helps some by putting toys in the basket (even if they come right back out.)

Divide and concur

Decide what are your musts for each evening. This is not the time to clean every room of the house. This is mostly just for the common spaces. That way everyone is still working together.

We divide the jobs up and tackle them. One person unloads the dishwasher, while another washes the ones in the sink. Someone else picks up the living room and vacuums. We keep it simple. We eventually found that each person was efficient at a particular job and we just got done faster if everyone stuck to that job. If someone wants a change up though, that’s fine too. Keeping it light-hearted and fun helps tremendously.

It can be done even in tricky circumstances

Our family clean use to happen after dinner when my husband was home from work. Now he occasionally comes home way to late to wait for. This is okay though. The kids and I still do it, and it gets done almost just as well.

Be patient

For all you type A personalities out there, keep in mind that when you dish out cleaning jobs, they may not get done to your “standards.” This is okay. Your life will be better if you just accept that over time it will get better. Cleaning is a skill that needs to be developed. Offer gentle guidance, but don’t be overbearing or critical. Over time they will get better.

Mostly be thankful that you aren’t begrudgingly picking up the house by yourself, again! 

How to get your family to help you clean, all while spending quality time together.

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