My Family Doesn't Clean

I am quite frustrated and becoming depressed about the messiness of my home. My husband helps out very little and actually makes more mess than he ever helps with. My son, age 7, just messes. I wanted him to clean his bedroom and was going to pay him $5 to clean it up, which he seemed excited about, but all he did was drag out puzzles and leave pieces all over instead of clean. I don't think my husband has ever cleaned a stove top off or much else for that matter. If I try to get him to clean, he says, why? Who is coming to visit?

Sandy from Stoughton, WI

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October 13, 20080 found this helpful

Ok, I'm not going to be very popular but having reared 3 boys I do know a bit about it. I would work with him (since you've not indicated you've done it before) and help him clean it up so that he can see how you like it to look. NO MONEY!! Then I would have a set time for him to straighten his room EVERY DAY. I would tell him things left down now belong to Mother to do with as she wishes. You'll have to "take" a few things for awhile and can't let the screams get to you. However, you have to remember he's only 5 and not keep his stuff too long. I'd probably give them back the next day AFTER he's done his room right. I would also do this with toys in the rest of the house. "Ok, Billy, it's time to get ready for bed. You have XXX minutes to get your things put away then it's bath time. Anything left down belongs to me, remember!" Lots of praise and "big boy" comments help.

As far as the husband goes...wow, who can do anything with THEM!! Do you work outside of the home? In my opinion, if you do he should help. When I didn't have an outside job (meaning money!) I did it all bacause that WAS my job. He had his away from home. Wasn't always fair since I had much longer hours but... Have you sat down with him and told him how unhappy you are with the situation? I remember several times when I've "had it" and finally talked to my husband he's been totally surprised because he's had no idea how I felt. Also, I discovered I was being so critical of how he did things that he didn't want to help because he couldn't do it right. If I wanted help I had to loosen up. You can always offer a little extra snuggle time if you have some help with the dishes. "I'd love to sit and make out on the couch and I could be there sooner if you'd help me in the kitchen." then make the snuggles worth it for him!! Ok, that's not playing fair but we're dealing with men here! Gotta use what motivates!! =^.^)=

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October 13, 20080 found this helpful

Just saw my mistake...he's 7, not 5. I'd hold the toys a bit longer and increase the time as you needed to in order to make a believer out of him. He's lived this way for 7 years. He's got habits that are going to have to be broken. BE CONSISTENT!!!

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October 13, 20080 found this helpful

As a person who has raised 4 boys I feel I have eons of experience. First, take a broom, dustpan and garbage can to the door of the kid's room. Tell him if he can get to it before you do he can keep it. Otherwise it goes in the trash. This works after a time ot two. Tell your husband that you refuse to pick up anything off the floor that you didn't put there yourself. When you are tidying up just kick his socks and undies under the bed where they don't destroy the look of the place. If they aren't in the hamper you won't have to wash and fold them. He will eventually run out of clean ones so he'll have to pick them up anyway. I can't give any advice on the kitchen since I really don't like anyone else thrashing around in "my domain".

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October 13, 20080 found this helpful

I would like to point out an observation. You indicate that your "husband helps out very little". In choosing those words, you take ownership of the house chores. Let me clarify what I mean. If I were to say, "My husband helps me with the dishes" I am indicating that the dishes are MY responsibility and that he does some of the work out of the goodness of his heart but not because he has any responsibility. A better choice would be for me to say, "My husband and I do the dishes together" or "My husband and I share the chore of doing the dishes."

Having said that, however, I do agree with another poster who makes the distinction of whether or not you are working outside the home. When I have worked outside the home, my husband and I share the chores (usually according to who likes or hates which chores and what time of day those chores needed to get don). However, I am not working outside the home right now, so I have taken on many chores that he was doing when I was working. Consequently, I might use language that indicates that most of the chores are my responsibiilty at this point and that he "helps out". :)

So, not knowing if you are a stay-at-home mom or not makes it difficult to give you advice. For that reasaon my advice is that you be careful with your word choices because they do indicate responsibility/obligation versus optional behaviors.

As far as your son's not cleaning up after himself, explaining to your husband that his son is modeling his dad's behavior. Also, if kids haven't been taught how to clean, they don't know what it means when a parent says "go clean your room". We all take for granted what it means when someone says to go clean a room, but kids don't, unless a parent has done it alongside them. I suggest that you clean side-by-side with your son so that he is motivated, it gets done twice as fast, you and he get to know each other better, and he understands your expectations. When doing this, if he stops cleaning up, you must also stop cleaning up. Set realistic time limits on cleaning - maybe telling him that you and he will clean for ten minutes together and then go do something fun, but that if he stops short of ten minutes, that "something fun" won't happen. Let him know that if he cleans at that point, he gets your ten minutes of cleaning, so twice as much gets done. If he waits, he will need to do 20 minutes. I hope that helps.

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October 13, 20080 found this helpful

What worked for me when I was working and had

a child at home: You drop it, you pick it up. If I

pick it up, it is mine, and since I don't want it,

out it goes! Never would nag and bed anyone

to help me. They either did or they didn't, usually

didn't. The final soultion was hiring a maid,

made both of them pony up their share of the

cost. Lots less confusion, and more rest for me.

Get in their pocket book. Not the child at his

age, but definitely the husband's.

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October 15, 20080 found this helpful

Thanks for all your feedback. As far as working outside my home--yes and no. We own a business, so I am involved with phone calls and any secretarial work, especially for 7 months of the year. I also do lots of volunteer work at my son's school, serving on the PTG and school board. My husband only ever works about 20-30 hours a week and is underfoot too much.

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October 15, 20080 found this helpful

With my girls, The rule was "you live here you help."

They each had a daily chore and a weekly chore an each chore had a deadline.

For this there was "pay" a dollar a day for the daily chore and three dollars for the weekly chore. If a day was missed, nothing was said, but their pay packet was lighter!

Also, about the kids things in the living room/kitchen/everywhere but their room. I'd ask once for them to take care of it, then I'd do it.

Once a month they could buy back their items.

Now, my husband and I have a different arrangement. He does the heavy indoor (moving the fridge out so I can vac the back or unplug so I can defrost the freezer, moving furniture and the like, and the main part of the outdoor work; cleaning the rabbit hutches, the chicken coop, rototilling the gardens. We team up on pruning the fruit trees, planting the garden and weeding, and all of us help with the mowing.

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October 15, 20080 found this helpful

Get tough! Put your foot down. Be consistent. Your 7 year old can only do what you let him get away with. If you send him in his room to clean and he starts playing with something, take it away from him and tell him the next time it goes in the trash. I told my kids that anything that they don't care enough to pick up off the floor must be trash. After they saw a couple of things get thrown out, they picked their things up. He's too young to expect him to do it on his own. You need to keep after him until it becomes a habit with him to keep his room clean. Give him a little reward when he does.

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October 15, 20080 found this helpful

Mother of seven here. Each child at our home cleans their room and has one chore that lasts a year. Be it dishes, trash, laundry, pets, etc......depending on their age. Your senior year is no chore year. We do not give allowances.

Each child was taught how to clean their room. We started slow with 5 minutes on the timer and worked from there. Be very specific with each task. Please put all your shoes in the closet. Please place your books on the shelves. Put your crayons on your desk. It worked very well for us.

We did have one that decided to stop cleaning their room at age 10. First we took the fun stuff away from his room and after 2 weeks of not cleaning their room, we took everything out of their room. I mean everything. His clothes, furniture, everything. He was left a lightbulb, a sleeping bag, and a pillow. I placed one set of clean clothes that I picked out each morning at his door. After a week, he got to move it all back himself. He is fifteen now and I can tell you he probably has the neatest bedroom in the house.

As far as my hubby goes. It is simple. He does everything from the hip and above and I do everything from the hip and lower. The actual countertops changes each month since it is hip height. Yes, i have to clean the floors and pick up a great deal more, but I do not work nearly as many hours as my husband. And windows, lightbulbs, cabinets, ceiling fans, china cabinets, and all the pictures on the walls are things I hate to clean anyway. So it works well for us.

I cook all meals and he does all outdoor stuff. And yes, cars are outside stuff. I love not putting gas in the cars.

It works at our house, I hope you find away that works for you!

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October 16, 20080 found this helpful

My kids are younger- 5 and 2 1/2, so I use a simpler approach. I started a "reward board". I bought stickers from the dollar store, took a sheet of paper and divided it into 2 columns, one for my son and one for my daughter. When I "caught" them doing something like putting things away, I put a sticker on the paper.

I told them that when both sides were full, we would do something as a family, like the zoo, the fair, the circus (we get free tix from various sources for most of those). It made them feel good, but also reinforced the positive behavior. It made them work together, too, as we couldn't go unless both sides were full.

We also put things into "banishment"...if we tell one of our kids to pick something up, we give them 2 chances more (Sorta like a 3 strikes rule). If it's not picked up, we put it in "banishment". When they get it back is our discretion.

I can't help with the husband part...mine does so much around here. I cook, do laundry, dust, take care of the "delicate" tasks like the the china cabinet, but he vacuums, does dishes, does the yard work and shovels. Bathrooms, we take turns. Good luck!

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October 16, 20080 found this helpful

I have tried telling my hubby how I feel, didnt work. I have tried those things with my daughter, didnt help. I am at my wits end with the both of them tryiing to get them to help out. My DH will tell our daughter to help me clean, but wont lift a finger to help much himself. Evey month (or 2) he may run the vaccum in the living room and not the other rooms. But he is more interested in keeping his truck and "his" back porch clean. I have just given up and do it all myself, and yes, I do work outside the home.

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October 16, 20080 found this helpful

The funny thing is that I don't think that people clean as well as I do, even though there is nothing wrong with the way they do it. I try to appreciate any help my DH and kids do give and guide them toward they way I want it. Maybe DH has given up on cleaning because he knows he won't get it the way you want it? Make one day the designated cleaning day--give hubby a chore list and walk him through it. Perhaps if he sees what it is you want, he'll be more inclined to help.

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October 16, 20080 found this helpful

FlyLady.com is wonderful for cleaning and de-cluttering. She has a program for children also which seems to work very well called House Fairy.

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October 16, 20080 found this helpful

I had the same problem. Cleaned for the first 18 years. Had a service for 11 years. Fired them last month. Was going to clean again, but DH said he'd do half. He said that he is benefiting because we will save so much money by doing it ourselves.

What caused the change in attitude? I don't know, but maybe the lousy economy. You can't do it all. If they won't help, then things have to go. Maybe the dinners will be less fancy, or there will be less transportation to after school activities. In a family, everyone has to help. You are not a slave.

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November 8, 20080 found this helpful

If they won't do their share you shouldn't do it for them. Try cutting back on the extras you do for them, ie making snack, etc. You might even try stop making dinner and make them fend for themselves. Do worry they wont starve, everyone knows how to make peanut butter and jelly. This might open their eyes a little. I have a friend who tried this and it worked.

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January 2, 20090 found this helpful

1. Be Specific!

Your son is seven. He may not understand what you mean by "clean up your room." That's a broad, sweeping direction. Give him a narrow direction, like "Please put all your shoes in a neat row in the closet. Then put all your toys in the toy box." When he's done with that, he can come back to you and get another small, specific assignment that he knows how to do.

2. Teach Scheduling.

Toys need to be put away by dinner time. Clothes go into the hamper right when they're done being worn. Books go back on the shelf when they're done being read. Shoes need to be lined up in the closet once a week. School books and materials need to be back in the book bag before bath time at night, and the next day's clothes need to be chosen and laid out before bedtime. Laundry needs to be put away no more than one full day after it's put on the foot of his bed.

3. Teach Each Chore.

"Make your bed" sounds easy to people who know how to make a bed, but to a kid, it's harder. Try doing that chore together a few times, with each of you taking one side of the sheet and then the blanket, so that your son can mirror your actions and learn that way. "Straighten your shelves" to an adult means to put everything in neat, attractive places. To a child, it means get everything off the floor and put it SOMEWHERE on a shelf. Teach about grouping books together, toys together, and about making sure you can see each thing so that nothing gets lost behind or beneath something else. Give clear instruction on what sorts of things belong in boxes and what sorts of things can be left out in the open. Show the child how to dust properly: "Pick up everything from the desk and put it on your nice neat bed. Then wipe off the desk with a damp cloth. Then wipe off each thing before you put it back on the desk in a neat place.

4. Reward Good Work.

Every time your son has all his chores done at the right time will earn him fifteen uninterrupted minutes of time with you -- because now that you're not cleaning his room, you have more time to spend with him! Use that time to read with him, express pride in the way he's done his job, ask him what's on his mind, just have a good cuddle, dance around in the living room, or -- yes, you can and should -- get down on the floor and play with him and his trucks, action figures, or tinker toys. Don't often use sweets or other food as a reward. Food is a basic right, not a reward, and sweets should be reserved for special occasions rather than an everyday thing.

5. Make Work An Opportunity.

Give serious thought to whether you want to use money as a reward. On one hand, keeping clean is a basic and valuable life skill to which your son has a right, and he should be taking responsibility for learning it without any reward other than the joy of having a beautiful, tidy room. Taking care of his own business is an obligation to himself. On the other hand, it's reasonable to think that at some point your son will need to know that hard work is the way to earn his living. If he successfully completes a chore that benefits others as much as (or more than) himself, he should be given a wage, just as if he were serving at a restaurant or pumping gas -- things that serve others, that do not directly benefit himself.

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