Why won’t my kids help me clean?

I’m always reminded of my homemaker shortcomings when my kid’s friends are over and they come to me in the kitchen and ask, “Where should I put my dirty plate?” They have a puzzled look on their face as they stare at my cluttered kitchen counters and full sink, trying to figure out what my system is (I don’t have one).  These kids are trained. These kids are helpful. These kids help their parents clean.

Welcome to summer (and volleyball double days)
Welcome to summer (and volleyball double days)

My kids are perfectly comfortable walking away from the dinner table leaving their dishes as they are. Despite multiple reminders, they still leave dirty socks everywhere, cereal bowls on every flat surface known to mankind, wet towels on carpet, beds, or most recently, our wooden dining room table.

I’m going to give 5% of the blame to my daughter’s strong willed, rebellious personality and 5% to my son’s ADHD/disorganized brain. The remaining 90% is all my fault. This is good news because it means I can change it anytime I want. We teach our kids how to treat us, our home, and each other. Here is what I have found are the Top 5 Reasons Why Kids Don’t Help Their Parents Clean.  If your kids aren’t jumping up to help you clean, see if any of these sound familiar. If you didn’t help YOUR parents clean when you were a kid, see if any of these sound like truth for you. (and sign up for my “Organize My Home” Boot Camp here!)

  1. You prioritize fun. There is one common denominator Moms who always have clean houses share, they like to clean. If your house is not clean, it’s probably because you don’t enjoy cleaning it. You have fun in other ways, and without realizing it, you might be teaching your kids to dislike cleaning, too. You see cleaning as an unwanted chore and your kids may have picked up on that, and they, too, want to prioritize fun. Read this blog on how to make chores more fun.
  2. Do your kids start out cleaning with you, and then quietly disappear? It could be they lose interest or it could be that your energy changes when you start cleaning. Maybe you get frenetic and panicky (hostess neurosis, anyone?). Some parents get authoritative and bark orders, some complain about what they are doing while they are doing it. If your energy turns negative, your kids are going to hide from you.
  3. My house cleaner’s daughter refuses to clean her house because her Mom is too perfectionistic. If there is a certain way you want things done, and on a certain time frame, and you are pretty picky about it, chances are your kids will rebel. Kids often rebel any time they feel powerless or when they can’t be themselves. Some personality types have an even stronger need to put their stamp on things and do things their way. A controlling Mom with a rebellious child will always butt heads.
  4. You prioritize other activities. There are many days during the school year when my kid’s schedules are busier than mine and I feel bad asking them to do anything else. When we prioritize our kid’s school work, sports, and social activities, it’s only natural that they learn cleaning isn’t important. If it is important to you that your kids to learn to help out, clean up, and build basic life skills, use summer time and weekends to focus on the fundamentals.
  5. You like doing it all. Some Moms “do it all” and wear it like a badge of honor. They might SAY they want help but when someone tries to help out, all this Supermom sees is the faults and inadequacies in the attempt. She will hear herself saying “it’s easier if I just do it myself”. While this is true, her ego has become attached to the pride and martyrdom she gets out of doing more than everyone else. If this is the case for you, recognize that you have gotten exactly what you wanted and now, with awareness, you have the power to change it.

We get to teach our kids how to treat us and the home they live in. Teaching involves lots of repetition, with no guaranteed outcome. If you want your kids to help you clean more, start by enjoying it more yourself. We’ll be uncovering lots of secrets in the upcoming teleclass, “Organize My Home”.  We’ll work with your natural personality to help you get the results you want. We’ll uncover your obstacles to getting your children to help you clean. By the end of this “Organizing Boot Camp” you will have learned to experience more joy and meaning, while cleaning and maintaining organization in your home. Read more about the “Organize My Home” boot camp here. 

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