I'm in quite a few mom groups, and one of the questions that gets asked the most is, "How do I handle my kid's messes, schedule, chores, etc.?"
I'll tell you first off that COVID-19 certainly hasn't helped! Whatever may have worked in the past may not anymore as we have been at home and without being social longer than any human should. And each family has a different structure, economic situation, stresses, and such.
However, you CAN gain control of your kids, your family, and your sanity! It will take commitment and effort on your part though.
While it's not foolproof, I want to share what I have found to be most successful in our household.
1. MINIMALISM. I can't say it enough....MINIMALISM. Less is more, in so many ways. Less stuff means less to clean or tidy. Fewer clothes to wash. More money in your wallet. And psychologist/therapists will say, especially in children who have autism, that solid, neutral colors and cleanliness promotes a more peaceful, clear mind whereas bold colors, prints, and clutter will contribute to anxiety, stress, and a more racing mind.
I saw a video recently where a mom put a shiny new toy and a kitchen utensil in front of her young child. Want to guess which one they went for, each and every time? The kitchen
utensils! Kids don't need tons and tons of toys to entertain them. And you don't need tons
and tons of toys to clean up or argue about on the daily.
I'm always happy to help someone on their journey towards minimalism, feel free to
contact me if you want a less stressful, more peaceful life!
2. Follow the 7 Habits of Successful People. My daughter attended public school last year and I know it was meant to teach us about this ridiculously important lesson. Kids can learn the 7 Habits of Successful People (by Dr. Stephen R. Covey) at any age, even as early as pre-school. The school did a phenomenal job of making these habits part of the curriculum and culture, it became a way of life.
Needless to say, even though we are homeschooling now, the 7 Habits are very much still part of my lesson plan!
As it relates to committed, wonderful kids, you can't ask for a better guideline. If you've never heard of the 7 Habits, they are as follows:
Habit #1, Be Proactive: Have a "can-do" attitude. Take responsibility and initiative, make good choices, and do the right thing without being asked. You are in charge of you.
Habit #2, Begin With The End In Mind: "You choose your words and actions. However, you cannot choose the consequences of your words or action." Be a good citizen/leader at home or in school. Plan ahead. Set goals. Know what you want before you do it.
Habit #3, Put First Things First: (This one is critical for your kids and a clean home. So many kids are not taught or it is not enforced to clean up one thing before starting or playing with another. This creates many of the messes! My daughter knows her bed must be made and her room must be clean before we start each day, no ands, ifs or buts!) Do all important things first. Set priorities. Get organized. Be disciplined. Plan.
Habit #4, Think Win-Win: (I used this a LOT with my daughter on playdates when she wants to play, do or have something and her friend wants another. Now, she effectively does it on her own!) Find ways where everyone can win. Encourage others. Consider other's opinions. Solve conflicts. Be kind.
Habit #5, Seek First to Understand, Then To Be Understood: Be an attentive listener. Ask related questions. Do not interrupt. Turn and look to the speaker. Give your full attention.
Habit #6, Synergize: Work together! Value the ideas of others and help. Be humble. Combine your strengths with the strengths of others.
Habit #7, Sharpen The Saw: Take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, and learn new things. Love and take care of your body, brain, heart, and soul.
3. Don't Overcommit To A Firm Schedule: I'm going against the grain from most on this one, but stick with me. I am a Type A, planning fool! I love knowing what's happening and when.
However, I've actually dropped putting times to anything, especially in the home. It creates too much anxiety for everyone, especially with COVID in the mix. It doesn't allow for flexibility, which every family needs. When I tried doing times in the past, my daughter got too fixated on it, and we both went nuts because sometimes things just didn't work out according to schedule.
This includes homeschooling! We have a general schedule and plans, but no set time. If the weather is nice and we're ahead of our plans, we'll skip off to the pool or somewhere fun for a few hours. If we get carried away with a game, craft, or fun at night, I don't want to stop just because it's X:XXpm. Life's too short. Plus, I only want to wake up to an alarm clock when absolutely unnecessary, haha. (But seriously...it's best to wake up naturally, anyway. Especially for your kiddo!)
4. Incentivize: Each child is motivated differently, but incentivizing is the best way to get chores done, outside of making it a game...but my daughter is way too smart for that and money motivated, haha.
When she was younger, I created "Dev Dollars" which was fake printed money that could be used for a variety of things, including screen time, game night, or redeemed for cash. Now that she is a bit older and wants to buy her own things, she has a chore chart posted that she receives money for. ($.25 here, $.75 there, depending on the chore and its complexity or difficulty)
The biggest thing for her is that she needs instant gratification, so she gets paid on the spot. It was not as effective when saved and paid an allowance once per week. I'll change that to better reflect a paycheck when she gets older, with "taxes" taken out for non-profit donations.
It may take some trial and error, but you will eventually learn what gets your children motivated to help around the house. Just like with the fake dollars, they could use real dollars for screen time and other privileges. (Which also helps limit use! Win-win!)
Leading by example and staying consistent on the above will carry you far through this journey. For some of you, it may just be a few tweaks while others may require a huge transformational overhaul. Remember that the wonderful habits above apply to you as well and will lend to your success. Feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, comments, or suggestions.
In peace, love, happiness, cleanliness, and sanity,