Summer of Clean

I downloaded Dana White’s new e-book, “Teaching Kids to Clean” a couple of days ago, and read it in one sitting. Along with giving me some good tools (like a numbered picture of a toilet to remind kids what all parts to wipe down, and in what order), it also served as a reminder that I’m supposed to be teaching these little Forces of Destruction how to become civilized adults. Which means that I really can’t keep sending them outside every time I need to clean something. Even though I really like it better that way.

Cleaning by definition makes me cranky. And trying to keep an almost-4-year-old-child focused on a task and out of trouble also makes me cranky. See my dilemma? I know I need to be training them, but I don’t wanna.

So earlier this week, I taught them both how to fold their pants and put them on hangers. That actually wasn’t too frustrating. Then I sort of forgot about teaching them anything else until today. So today, we tackled the bathrooms.

The Taterbug has received some half-hearted instruction on this chore in the past. In fact, she actually likes to clean the bathrooms. Any parent with half a brain would run with that. So we gathered up the kids cleaning buckets, and set to work.

I showed The Taterbug how to remove everything from the floor (dirty clothes, trash can, toilet plunger, bath rugs) and then sweep from the back corner to the door.

After sweeping, I demonstrated how to wipe down the mirror, then the countertop and sink. Once those were shining, we dealt with the toilet. It’s funny, I always thought it was the sound of running water that made a small child need to use the toilet. Turns out that the sight of a parent flushing the toilet, then sprinkling toilet cleaner in the bowl will do it too. Boodie had to use the toilet in both bathrooms in the space of half an hour.

Once the toilet was clean, we headed for the downstairs bathroom because I don’t have the patience to teach them how to clean the shower yet.

The downstairs bathroom went much the same as the upstairs bathroom, with one notable difference: The downstairs bathroom adjoins our bedroom, which features a king-sized bed. It makes a much better trampoline than a twin-size bunk bed. I spent a good bit of time chasing Boodie out of there and re-directing her.

Fortunately, the bathroom has two doors, and two doorknobs which she frequently embellishes with toothpaste, mud, crayons etc. Cleaning them kept her occupied almost long enough to allow my blood pressure to return to normal.

I decided to push my luck and showed The Taterbug how to mop the bathroom floor with a Swiffer sweeper. Yes, you read that right. I took one section out of the handle, which made it just the right height for little girls to use. Then I wrapped a microfiber towel around it and and tucked the edges into the little holes on the top. I can’t claim it’s an original idea. I saw something similar in a catalog for about $70.

I sprayed the floor with water and a drop of Mrs. Myers All-Purpose Cleaner, and turned her loose while I chased Boodie off my bed, again.

That left two shining bathrooms (not perfect, but better than when we started), and two very self-satisfied kids. They like to be helpers, and just a little praise goes a long way.

I did not receive any sort of compensation for mentioning “Teaching Kids to Clean” or Mrs. Myers all-purpose cleaner, I just like them so much that I wanted to share.

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7 Responses to Summer of Clean

  1. Jean Hall says:

    Excellent post! You had me laughing and nodding. I miss those days.

    You’re on the right track. I wish I had disciplined myself enough to teach my little ones to clean when they were little and interested. It’s a lot harder to get started with them when they’re older.

    Followed a link from

  2. Pingback: Week Two Progress Report for our Summer of Clean

  3. Angie W. says:

    Great job! I’m with you–I don’t wanna. I have two boys, 6 and 4 and a girl, 1, and frankly it is WAY easier to just clean without them. I downloaded Nony’s book and I’m hoping it will help me. Although we still will try to clean without the 1 yr old for awhile. 🙂

  4. Beth G says:

    I didn’t think a 4yo could’ve much help cleaning bathrooms but you proved me wrong. Now I’m going to start training my 4yo in the bathroom. Poor thing has been begging to help.

  5. Carolina_D says:

    My daughter’s always been a much better housekeeper than me. I think she was just born hating messes. From the time she was 5 or 6, she would just start cleaning whatever needed it, totally guilting me into getting my nose out of my books and into whatever room she was working on. She was very careful, especially with cleaning chemicals. She knew (cos I HAD warned her) that they could be dangerous, and should never be mixed. So…she would hand me the bottles or cans and tell me (TELL me!) to clean the tub or whatever looked gross. We DID use lots of baking soda and vinegar, and she would use those by herself. I also made my own cosmetics, perfumes, etc. and together we concocted our own room deodorizers, etc. using essential oils and other supplies. In the end, SHE trained ME. And, we had fun. But, I know I was very lucky, and most kids aren’t like that. Her bedroom was always much cleaner and more organized than mine, from the time she was 4 or so. So, she obviously inherited her ‘clean genes’ from another side of the family. I still struggle. HER house is always perfect. (On the other hand, she’s never really learned to cook, even though that was my passion!) Every child is different, but I think if MY mother had taught me when I was young, then I would be much better off now. She just didn’t have the patience, and when I tried to help, she would just shoo me away. I’ve never made up for that ‘lost time’. I DID try to teach her to cook, but it just bored her and in the end I did the cooking and she cleaned the kitchen after dinner. (She makes a mean salad though!)

  6. Lorie says:

    I LOVE the Swiffer idea.

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