Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Teaching Your Children to Clean ~ Tips for Parents

I felt the need to follow up yesterday's post about sharing the housework amongst the family with an honest ~ right to the point ~ post about HOW to teach your children to clean. Here are today's tips for Homeschooling (or any other) Parents!

First up ~ You've got to clean up your cleaners! Many of the cleaners commercially available at the store are a HUGE no-no for children to even be around. Let's face it, some of them even make me squirm the ingredients are so toxic, and I'm the one who puts them on the shelf for my day job! This isn't about bashing any brand, sometimes YOU the parent are going to need something pretty strong to clean something really disgusting, but for almost all household jobs, greener cleaners work well.

Look at the picture below. Along the bottom are the front of three different toilet bowl cleaners ~ all from the same manufacturer. One is probably ok for tweens and teens to use with caution... that would be the one labeled CAUTION. The other two should only be used by adults, with gloves on...and the DANGER one should not be used unless you're wearing goggles, gloves, and a mask. Seriously people, what are you exposing yourselves to in the name of saving five minutes cleaning the bathroom? If you want the cold, hard facts, click over to this post from the Ecology Center where you'll find out that DANGER chemicals can be fatal with less than a teaspoon. Let's take care of our cleaning and our families and talk about using something less toxic.

There are so many cleaning products available at the local market these days that are safe for use around children, and by children, that we just need to clean up our cleaning products. The two photos on the right (above) are of two cleaning wipes that I found at my local grocery store...both of which we've used before. Neither of them require a warning label because they are made out of plant ingredients...oh, what? Yes, they're made out of plant-based soaps and essential oils. You can pick them up at your local store, and they don't cost a fortune. Amazing!

In general, we still purchase products today that were safe for the girls to use when they were just 6 or 8. When they were little I bought a pair of rubber gloves for them to use, and I taught them how to use each product, and then wash their hands well with soap and water when they were finished. This is not rocket science people. Guess what? Now they're 15 & 17 and I can't remember the last time I had to clean a bathroom! To a working Mama, that is GOLD!

OK, but you may still be wondering: how?

Step one: relax and tell your child they are going to learn something new because they are getting to be a big helper at home. (Feel free to use your own child's love language here.)

Step two: show them what to do

Clean everything off of the counter/ sink

Spray the counter and sink with cleaner (or use a handy-dandy wipe)
Wipe the counter, faucet, and sink with a clean towel (it helps to go buy a set of inexpensive cleaning towels from the store just for the bathrooms so they always know which ones to use)
Put everything back that should be on the counter, put the rest of it (like extra ponytail holders) away in the drawer/ cabinet.

Clean everything off the top of the toilet

Spray the outside of the toilet tank, seat, and base ~ remember to spray the handle too!
Wipe with a cleaning towel (put towel in the dirty bucket)

Lift the lid, spray the bottom of the lid and the top of the toilet seat
Wipe with a new cleaning towel
Lift the seat, spray the bottom of the seat and the top of the bowl
Wipe with the cleaning towel, then put the towel in the dirty bucket

(If you sink wasn't very dirty, that towel can be used again for the outside of the toilet ~ however, towels NEVER go from the toilet to the sink!!! Once a cleaning towel has been used on the toilet it goes in your cleaning bucket to be washed. If you don't already have a bucket with a handle for dirty towels, stop at the dollar store and get one JUST for use when you're cleaning the bathroom!)

Last but not least:
Squirt cleaner into the toilet bowl and show the child how to clean inside of the bowl with the bowl brush. (If you're not comfortable with this, have them leave this step for you to do until they'r older.)

On to the tub/ shower

Remove all the soap, shampoo, and loofahs from the shower (set them on the floor, you haven't cleaned it yet!)
Spray all surfaces of the shower wall, tub, faucet, etc.
Sing a little song while the cleaner works on the soap scum
Wipe all areas they can reach. Then rinse with clean water. If you have a hand-held shower you are golden, if not, you'll have to show them how to use a bucket to pour water over the shower walls to rinse them. 
Rinse out the tub a second time to make sure you've removed all the cleaner.
Put that towel in the dirty bucket
Return all the soap, shampoo, etc.

Other things:

Empty the bathroom trash can, then wipe down the outside with an appropriate cleaner, or spray with an essential oil air freshener if it is a wicker or woven basket

Clean any walls that get dirty often, and the door, especially the door handle by spraying, wiping, and scrubbing if necessary.

Change the hand towels 

The floor

How you do this will depend on the size of your bathroom
If it is small, spray starting the furthest point from the door, and wiping with a cleaning towel as you back up
If it is huge, sweep first with a broom or your vacuum cleaner, then mop, starting furthest from the door and working backwards

Note: Your littles are not going to be cleaning your mirrors until they are about 10. Before then it is an exercise in futility because they either use too much glass cleaner, or not enough. Just do the mirrors yourself until they get older.

Also- you may want to have them spray the bathroom cabinet (if you have one under the sink) or the sink pedestal. That would come after cleaning the sink, and before doing the toilet. This probably only needs done twice a month unless you have toddlers who brush their own teeth-LOL!

If you have particularly difficult sink or tub, make a paste out of baking soda and scrub with it.

Ta Da! A clean bathroom!
Ok, I'll be honest. The first few time (or weeks) the bathroom will not be as clean as if you did it yourself. That's ok, because you're going to give them two opportunities each week to clean the bathroom. What they miss the first time, you can help them remember the second go-around!

Over time your children will get a lot better. Sometime you're going to have to go back and remind them of the little when they forget to wipe that tiny area behind the toilet seat in front of the tank, or that sliver of space between the back of the faucet and the wall. As they continue to do the chore, it becomes more of a habit, and they get better, Plus, the bathroom is no longer waiting on you to "get around to it" so the layer of grime or soap scum is thinner and easier to clean. If you have a particularly bad or old toilet, look for a Pumie Stone. They're great for really hard water areas! We bought this one at Kroger and have used it for several years. 

So what are we using to clean our home today? Here is a peek at our current lineup of cleaners:

5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Read more tips at:
Renita @ Krazy Kuehner Days 
Sarah @ Renaissance Mama 
Tiffany @ The Crafty Home 

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