5 Steps To Get Your Family To Tidy
1. Do your own journey first. I cannot reiterate this enough! You cannot teach others how to tidy if you cannot keep your own things tidy and organised. So many parents come to me asking for help with their families, but the honest truth is that they need to learn to keep their own things in order first. I work first with the parents, and then with the children.
2. Respect the boundaries that others have in place. We all have different values and children often have treasures that parents would happily throw out. It’s really important to give children as much autonomy over their own space as possible. By all means set boundaries, but keep your eye on the prize of people who know what it is that they want in this life.
3. Teach and scaffold. Do not just send a child to their room with instructions to “Tidy it!”. Even children who regularly tidy their rooms often appreciate a hand! When my youngest’s room has got out of hand (it’s always her room!), I go in there with her, we pull all the stuff that shouldn’t be out into a big pile on the floor. Then we sort it into categories, put the rubbish in the bin, the toys away in their places and then take the other things to put away where they should be in the home. I know that often when I am looking at a large amount of Drying Up to be done or shopping to be put away, I very much appreciate it when someone gives me a hand, or I just get overwhelmed by it all.
4. Small steps. Know what you want to happen and chose one small step to get there. I had a vision that my kids would help me clean the house. However, I didn’t just stand there one day and say, “Right, go and clean the bathroom!”, I built it up over time. First I focused on them keeping their own spaces tidy. Then on sorting their laundry. Then on emptying the bins. Making sure that for each new skill, I taught them the steps and helped them to embed it before adding another one. Really make sure that they understand what is expected of them. Now my children do the cleaning without me, but it has taken time and patience to get here.
5. Give them grace. Do not expect perfection, or for your toddler or teenager to suddenly become a mini-adult, and don’t hold them to higher standards than you hold yourself. Things will go wrong. Take a deep breath, re-group and have another go.
On a side note, I do not pay my children to do household chores. Household chores are simply something that we all need to get done in order to live in this home. So they feed animals, do their laundry, clean the house and muck out the stables just as part of their daily jobs. If we need an incentive, then screen time often works. However, if there is a job that is mine such as medicating the horses, and I want a child to do it, then I will pay them. Just as I pay a cleaner to clean my kitchen (the kitchen is my job, I loathe cleaning, so I pay someone else to do it).