Are you tired of picking up after your family? Are you feeling defeated and overwhelmed because nobody helps you clean the house?
This week’s House Gone Sane Podcast or Post shares 11 ways to get help cleaning.
(Below you can read the post or play the podcast version- about 25 mins.)
Below are the links we mention in this week’s Podcast or Post. (Keep scrolling to read the full post.)
FREE Printable Daily Cleaning Routine Checklist– These 4 pages give you room to write a customized cleaning checklist, show you what tasks you should include, and recommend where to start in each room, and what order to do tasks in.
Free Printable Toddler Sticker Reward Chart– If you have a toddler, they will be able to watch themselves earn rewards and reach a goal.
The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle– (This is the book I recommend for wives in this episode. Don’t judge it by its cover- this is a really great resource!!)
Countertop Dishwasher (the one we have) This is great for anyone who wants a dishwasher, but doesn’t have the space or budget for a full-sized one.
Article from Pint Sized Treasures: Does a Messy House Mean The Kids Are Happy? (I reference this article in this Podcast or Post.)
If you don’t have a daily cleaning routine yet, you can download my free printable cleaning checklists here.
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a daily cleaning routine. It is beneficial for so many reasons.
If your family doesn’t see you setting the example, they won’t take you seriously when you ask for help.
Just like you probably feel overwhelmed when the house is a mess, your family may feel the same way.
If our house is a disaster and I simply tell my kids to ‘clean up,’ they aren’t going to know where to start, especially if me and my husband’s things and important papers are mixed up with the items I expect them to tidy up.
If you are completely frustrated because you feel nobody is helping you clean the house, I hear you, and I have been there.
But hear me out here, because having a daily cleaning routine is actually going to accomplish the very thing you want.
You will have a clean house, it will drastically increase the chances of you getting more help from a spouse or other adults in your home, and it will make it easier for your kids to help with chores.
And because the house will be under control, and you’ll likely get more help, you’ll likely feel less frustrated.
Worst case scenario, if you have a daily routine, you‘re going to have a cleaner house, and it will be easier for you to maintain it.
I actually spend around the same time each day- sometimes less time- cleaning now with a daily cleaning routine than I did when my house was a total disaster and out of control.
And I just want to say that I UNDERSTAND your frustration.
I have 5 other people in my house- my husband and 4 kids, 2 of which are toddlers.
And I will be honest with you- there are still times that I feel my family could help out more.
To be fair, there are times and days that I myself could do more around the house, so it’s not just them. None of us are perfect house cleaners.
BUT, my family does all help out. And they have all improved on how much they help and the quality of help they give after I stepped up and set a better example with a daily routine.
At the time I started my daily cleaning routine, it wasn’t easy.
We didn’t have a dishwasher, which is not fun for a household of 6 people, especially since I was the main person doing the dishes.
I was still nursing both of my youngest 2 children at the time. And my husband and I shared a car, and so I spent about 9 or more hours a week driving just bringing him to and from work and my stepkids back and forth to school on the days we had them.
Up until this point my house was pretty much always a mess, even though I did clean some areas of the home each day, and usually spent a good amount of time cleaning.
If we had company over, I’d get the house looking alright. But then it would eventually get cluttered and messy again.
The big cleaning mistake I made was that I wasn’t maintaining the areas I cleaned after I cleaned them.
I really didn’t understand what I was doing wrong. After all, I was cleaning every day. I was exhausted and overwhelmed, and I didn’t get why my house was such a mess.
Then, one day I thought to myself, ‘What do people with clean homes do to keep their home that way?’
And the first thing I realized was that people with clean homes never have dirty dishes.
People with clean homes wash their dishes every day. So I decided I would do that.
I soon realized that in order to keep the rest of my house clean, I needed to maintain the regularly used areas of my home daily. So I made a checklist of every area that gets messy, and got as far as I could each day in my list.
Gradually, I was able to keep my house under control in the same amount of time or less than I was already cleaning. Except now my cleaning was more effective, because I was maintaining what I already cleaned, once it started to get dirty or cluttered again.
While it wasn’t fun having to do dishes every day by hand, I got them done, and it was worth the effort.
Eventually my husband got me a countertop dishwasher, (which I love.) And so now it takes less time to do dishes. But, of course, there is still a lot to keep up with when you have 6 people living in your house.
And the reason I shared my experience just now, was that I want you to understand that at the time I started my cleaning routine, it wasn’t easy.
Honestly, I wasn’t getting a lot of help from my family at first. That started to change after I began to establish a clean environment, though.
Once I started to make the normal state of our home clean and tidy, instead of messy and cluttered, it became easier and more natural for my family to help keep it that way.
So my effort was worth it, and my daily routine benefited me, my home, and our family.
When you keep your house mostly clean, it is easy to identify areas that family members can help with. Because it won’t be one big overlapping mess.
And when you have a checklist of things you do in your house daily, and you become accustomed to doing them, you no longer feel as frustrated for any lack of effort on your family’s end.
If I expect to do my normal daily cleaning tasks, I’m taking responsibility for them. So I’m not getting irritated at my family for not helping with my job.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m cool with the 5 other people in my house messing it up, sitting back, and doing absolutely nothing.
I have my kids help clean up almost every day. I’m a big believer in kids learning from an early age the importance of keeping their surroundings clean and learning how to clean with age-appropriate tasks.
And I also appreciate my husband’s help with doing things like taking out the garbage and cleaning the litterbox- which I don’t enjoy doing.
I learned that having a cleaning routine is setting the stage, 1. for my home to be clean, and 2. for my family to help.
Just like a parent walking through deep snow makes a path with their footprints that their child can follow, you having a cleaning routine creates an environment that is easier for your family to keep up with.
If you’re a parent, do you get overwhelmed cleaning with your kids around?
Try doing some or all of your daily cleaning routine while they’re asleep.
Cleaning is one of the productive things you can do during a baby’s/toddler’s naptime, after your kids are in bed, or before they get up in the morning. Of course, this depends on what works best for you, your schedule, and your energy levels.
But cleaning while the kids are asleep will ensure no one adds to the mess as you are cleaning.
As humans, we all have the desire to feel appreciated for things we do, big and small. You may have times where you have felt that others don’t appreciate all the work you do.
And the members in our household are the same way. They don’t want to help clean up, not get a thank you, and even worse, hear us complain about all the things they didn’t do.
I’m not gonna lie, there was a time where I really needed to work on this personally. (And I’m not perfect, so sometimes I still do.)
I used to be afraid of telling my husband or kids thank you for the things they helped with if there were still other things I wanted them to do.
But the fact is, when people feel the effort they’ve already made is noticed and appreciated, they are way more likely to make more of an effort to help and try to make you happy.
Showing appreciation to others when they help will benefit you as a person, your home, and your relationship with them.
If you’re frustrated because your husband/spouse or another adult who lives in your home isn’t pulling their weight, I get it.
Sometimes it’s easier to get upset at adults who aren’t helping with the house, than at your kids. And this is because we naturally expect other adults, especially a spouse, to be responsible and work as a team.
They are grown up, and they know how to help. So it’s easy to take it personally if they aren’t doing their part.
That said, though, trying to force them to help, or nagging them or complaining about all the things they ‘should be doing’ is not going to get the result you want. (And yes, I may have learned this the hard way.)
My guess is that you want a few things in this situation.
You want a clean house, you want to not be the only one cleaning your home, and you want a close relationship with your husband or spouse, or whoever the adult is that you want help from.
As much as you may be inclined to speak your mind and tell the other person about themselves and what they need to do…chances are, it’s not going to get the results you want.
The fact is, when people are confronted with complaints or nagging- even if we feel the person deserves it or needs to hear it- the most likely response is that the person is either going to withdraw, or get defensive and start arguing with you.
And so the outcome of that will likely not get you a clean house or motivate them to help. It also can disrupt the peace in your relationship with them.
So it’s important to communicate in a respectful way that‘ll actually increase our chances of getting positive results. Again, we want to have a clean house, to have help with cleaning the house, and to maintain a good relationship with the person/people we get help from.
When asking for help from your spouse or another adult that lives with you, or when expressing your difficulty with managing all the tasks to keep your home in one piece, it’s definitely important to show respect to them. You don’t want to come across as complaining, demanding, or sounding sarcastic.
You could also approach your spouse or another adult by sincerely asking for advice. For instance, you could say something like, “You know, I’m trying to keep the house under control, and I’m having a hard time doing everything each day that needs to be done. Do you have any ideas for how we can manage our home better?”
I actually had a conversation with my husband about how he thinks a wife can best get her husband to help with chores, from a man’s perspective. And his response was that she could express how if she had more help around the house, she’d have more time for other things she needs to do as a wife or mom. Or she would have more time to do things he wants her to do.
In the previous point we talked about showing appreciation for any help your family gives. And this definitely applies to your spouse or other adults in your home.
Saying thank you and showing genuine appreciation for even the smallest thing they help with can go a long way. It will make it way more likely they will give you the same help in the future. And it may motivate them to look for other ways to help.
If you are a wife, and you’re trying to get your husband to help with chores, there is a book that has helped me so much with understanding how men think.
And more importantly, it has taught me specific ways to communicate with my husband so that he responds favorably. This gives me the end result I want.
Some women are turned off by the title of this book. But I’m telling you, this is one book you don’t want to judge by it’s cover before you read it.
I personally feel every wife should read this book. I have only seen good results from wives that apply the skills taught in here.
It’s called ‘The Surrendered Wife’ by Laura Doyle.
This book has some REALLY good advice for wives that actually works. There is a lot of marriage advice out there for wives. And some of it sounds good, but not all of it will get us the results we want.
Note: There is one statement towards the beginning of the book, about types of men the author thinks a woman she leave, and all but one I have to personally disagree with, because of the personal values that I have.
The author actually retracted that statement in one of her podcasts, after she received feedback from women who were telling her that even in those serious situations, the skills she taught changed their marriages for the better.
As far as the specific skills and cheat phrases the book teaches, they have definitely worked for me and for other women I know. And I recommend this book 110% for any wife.
Having a messy house with children can be a challenge. But it is possible to teach toddlers to clean up from an early age.
When my kids were still babies, I know they heard me talking about when I would need to clean up. And more importantly they would see me cleaning.
My daughter, who is now 4, actually would try to copy me when I wiped off the table or surfaces. And I always let her “help” clean to the degree she was able to safely.
Both of my toddlers also have learned to identify messes. For example, if there is a spill, my 2-year-old will say, “It’s a mess! Mommy, I need a napkin!”
Now, to be real, none of our kids love to clean.
But they were raised in an environment where cleaning was a normal part of life. And they understand that a messy environment is not what we want.
I personally feel it’s a good sign if kids identify an area as ‘messy’. And the reason I say this, is because if their normal environment is usually clean, they recognize a messy area as not being normal.
Are kids- and even adults- going to make a mess sometimes? Of course. But we don’t want our kids to get used to their surroundings being messy.
When I have my toddlers help clean up, once the room is clean, I will try to say something like, “Thank you so much for helping Mommy clean up. Mommy is so proud of you! Doesn’t the room look so much nicer now that it’s clean again?”
I’m trying to instill in them that their help is appreciated, that they helped someone else, and that we want our surroundings to look clean.
Getting your kids into a good routine can be helpful. For example, these are some of the things we consistently expect from the older kids:
Every day when they wake up, they make up their bed, put away any clothes, and then eat breakfast and wash up.
Before meals, I’ll usually have them clear off the dining room table, wipe it off, and tidy up the floor.
After meals, we’ll have them bring the dishes to the sink.
When the kids are done using the bathroom, they’re expected to leave it presentable.
I’ll usually have my stepdaughter help clean the bathroom at some point during the week. And my stepson will take out the garbage and recycle.
On Fridays, the kids sort their dirty clothes and then bring them downstairs to the laundry room.
Over the summer, my husband will usually have them help cut the grass.
For our toddlers, I’ll have them pick up their toys and put them in the toy bin.
My 2-year-old will clean up spills, and put water bottles in the recycle bag.
My 4-year-old will put dirty dishes in the sink, put away shoes, wash the sink, and put dirty clothes in the hamper. Some of those things she will even do sometimes without being asked.
Now, do our kids jump up for joy every time we remind them to do one of these things?
Not usually, they’re typical kids, and most kids don’t love doing chores. I don’t particularly enjoy cleaning myself, although I do like having a clean house.
I don’t expect our kids to be ecstatic about cleaning. But I do expect them to listen and to help without whining or complaining.
I have noticed a direct connection between our kids showing a bad attitude about doing chores and me as a parent not being consistent in what I expect.
Now, I have them help more than I did in the past, but they show a better attitude. I feel that is partly due to me keeping the house better under control myself with a daily cleaning routine.
But I also feel very strongly that making it the norm for them to help with certain tasks has improved their attitude, even though the norm now actually means now they are doing more, consistently, than they did before.
It’s not reasonable to expect kids to help clean if they don’t know what to do or where to start.
So we have to show them step-by-step what to do.
The printable cleaning checklists I have are helpful because they show a suggested order and tips for what to do in each room and what to start with first.
For some kids, simply being asked to “clean up” is not specific enough, especially if they’re being asked to clean a messy area with multiple things that need to be done.
So they need to be taught to ‘do this, and then do that.’
For example, make up your bed, next, put away your clothes, then throw out any garbage, and so on.
It is best to break things down either by the type of task, like by having them focus on tidying up or cleaning one thing- such as putting away their clothes, OR by smaller areas of a room, such as telling them to take care of everything on top of their dresser.
For our kids, I’ve found they do best by breaking it down by specific areas of their room. But every child is different.
You can either write things down step-by-step or tell them 1 or 2 areas or tasks at a time, whichever works best for your child that is appropriate for their personal abilities and their age.
The idea of teaching kids to clean and expecting them to do chores is a controversial topic for some.
There are some parents that for whatever reason, don’t expect their kids, (or teach their kids,) to help clean up. They feel that they are kids and they should enjoy being kids and play and that’s it.
Of course, I do agree that we need to let kids have fun and play! Personally, I ask less when it comes to chores during the school year and on school days from our school-age kids versus say the summer or Sundays when they don’t need to do schoolwork.
I would never expect our kids to do all of the chores to run the house while I sit back and do nothing.
So it’s good to be balanced with how much you expect kids to do and when you expect them to do it.
My goal as a parent, is to teach our kids age-appropriate tasks that they can learn and help with. This is not simply for the purpose of helping me so that I’m not doing everything.
The truth is teaching our kids to do chores is beneficial for them. If I constantly clean up after all 4 of our kids and don’t ask them to lift a finger, I’m not preparing them for adulthood.
Cleaning is a life skill, as is learning to be organized.
When it comes time for them to take care of their own home, these are skills they’ll need to use.
And the more kids practice a skill, the better and more efficient they become at it.
By the time they are adults, I want them to be able to quickly tidy up a room. I want them to be able to efficiently clean their kitchen, clean the toilet, wash the dishes, and so on, already knowing how to do it and how to do it well.
I certainly don’t expect them to do every household chore every day. My goal, though, is to teach them every task they will need to do to run a home. So I have them practice different chores at different times.
It wouldn’t be fair to my kids to not teach them to clean until they’re older. Because that’s not setting them up to be self-sufficient and take care of themselves. It wouldn’t give them enough time to practice cleaning and organizational skills before they really need to use them.
And I tell my kids that it’s not just their home that they need cleaning and organizational skills for.
No matter what line of work they choose as adults, they‘re going to need to keep their work area at least somewhat organized and looking decent.
I don’t know too many employers who are okay with their employees leaving a mess. And a lot of companies actually have the workers take turns cleaning up different rooms in the building.
If my kids choose to work for themselves, they‘re not going to impress clients with a messy office or disorganized workspace. It’s not practical or realistic for them to lack cleaning and organizational skills that they need to have.
So there are clear future benefits to your kids learning to clean and being in a clean environment.
But they also benefit from those things now. This article from Pint Sized Treasures discusses how kids are affected by a messy environment.
It’s beneficial for kids to learn to take care of their surroundings. There are health benefits to them keeping their room clean and not being surrounded by dust.
Kids who learn to do chores are going to be more responsible. And it helps them learn to work as a team within their family and to do things that benefit others.
When my kids help around the house, it actually allows me to give them more of my attention. And we spend more time together as a family when I’m not spending extra time picking up after everyone else.
Kids thrive when they feel good about their work and feel it was worth their effort.
I designed a free printable toddler sticker chart, so parents can acknowledge their child whenever they do something praise-worthy. And after a certain amount of stickers- whatever you decide and write on the chart- they earn a pre-determined reward.
Some parents also give their kids an allowance, which we do sometimes too.
This can be good in that it teaches them to be responsible and handle money. Of course, they need to understand that in the real world no one will pay them to clean their own room.
Of course, every family and child is different. So if you have kids, you have to decide with their other parent how to handle enforcing rules.
Personally, I’ve found it works well to have ‘once you do this, you can do that’ rules.
For example, our kids’ morning routine is that they wash up, make their bed, and put away any clothes before eating breakfast.
Currently they’re remote learning from school. And they need to wait until after the school day, after any assignments are complete, before playing video games.
Because we are consistent with what we expect, they do pretty well with doing what they are supposed to do.
As I mentioned earlier, when I’m getting food ready, I’ll usually have the kids wipe off the table and tidy up the dining room, at times that they are not doing schoolwork.
Just having them tidy up a few minutes before one or more meals helps keep the house under control. And it gives me less I have to do personally.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to only own a few toys for each child. Although, there are some parents who choose to do this.
The point is to not give them access to a gazillion toys at one time.
If your kids only have 7 toys in their play area, the most toys that will make a mess are 7 toys.
If they have 35 toys in the play area, you are potentially maximizing the mess by 5 times.
Some parents pack away toys to swap out from time to time. Or they have daily bins they switch out with new toys for each day of the week and keep the others out of reach.
Having fewer toys accessible at one time can actually be beneficial for your kids. It teaches them not to focus on too much at one time. That’s an important skill we need even as adults, and it helps them to enjoy their playtime more.
Interestingly, one article from Psychology Today talked about research that proves children have a better play experience when they are playing with fewer toys at once.
Messy paint or markers or dozens of Legos can get out of control really fast. So reserve activities with a potentially higher mess for a time and place you can keep it manageable.
By doing messier activities with your kids, it allows them to spend time with you. And it lets you keep the level of messiness under control.
So those are 11 ways to get your family to help with household chores. There are definitely challenges to getting help around the house from your family. But it possible to work as a team to keep the home under control.
Remember that you set the stage. You’ll give your family the cleaning footprints to follow by doing a daily cleaning routine.
Don’t forget to grab our free printable cleaning checklists before you go.
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If you have any feedback on today’s episode or requests for topics you would like to hear on a future Podcast or Post, please feel free to leave us a comment. We would love to hear from you.
Have a great day, and thanks for reading!