In the interest of keeping the house "less attitudinal", I abandoned "clean your room". I opted instead for "keep it clean enough to keep DCF and pests away". However, the common areas of the house were a different matter. We parents had a right to live comfortably as well. Additionally, my job titles did not include "slave to my children"! Each child had "chores" to complete--mowing the lawn, emptying the dishwasher, (eventually) doing your own laundry, or cooking the occasional meal.
Now that the kids are out on their own, I see advantages and disadvantages to this plan. The disadvantage is easy--now I have no additional help. Although they would complain, they were a LOT of help. And although we don't have as much laundry or as many dishes, the lawn is no smaller and the dust piles up just as much. I am also older...much, much older.
The good news for them is that, over time, they learned how to do all the basics. They even learned some tricks. So, we didn't have to have a last minute cram session before they moved out. Here are a few tips my kids found particularly useful--
If you have the money for conveniences--
- Laundry and dishwasher pods are particularly convenient
- My son didn't like cooking initially, so he found frozen entrees to be the cheapest, most convenient way to eat. It was still cheaper than a meal plan. Bagged salad was a great side.
- Swiffer dusters and sweepers are quick and easy for floor cleaning
- Vacuum once a week. Use the bare floor setting if you don't have time to swiffer
- Windex and paper towels will clean countertops, kitchen appliances as well as the bathroom surfaces. (Remember that if you have natural stone countertops this isn't a good idea)
- Toilet gel stamps will keep cleaning to a minimum.
- Shower cleaning sprays will keep your shower "good enough"
But if you don't want to invest in a lot of consumable supplies
- Socks are great cleaning rags. Get a package of tube socks and turn them inside out. Put them on your feet and use a spray bottle of windex to clean your floors.Add a little music and the job will be fun! Put them on your hands and use windex to clean your mirrors, kitchen and bath. I use a dry one to dust. Then you can just wash them with your whites each week.
- It's easier to clean as you go. If you have a scrub sponge or shower scrubbie in your bathroom, it's easy to scrub your shower and sink with a bit of shampoo. A spray bottle with a bit of rinse agent for your dishwasher (diluted with water) will keep the soap scum from sticking to the shower walls. You can use your hand towel to wipe down the counters before you throw it in the wash. One of those "touch up" bottles of cleaner on a bit of toilet paper with keep the toilet company ready...pretty much.
- Try to keep the kitchen counters clean. If you don't think the dishes are fun on day one, they really won't be fun on day 112! If you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher, it's probably builder grade and not up to challenge of running it "over capacity" or with food residue that has been hardening for months. Do yourself a favor and run it every few days. You'll thank yourself!
- Don't forget to vacuum regularly!
- If you keep a supply of extra light bulbs, laundry soap, drain cleaner and basic maintenance tools (get a plunger before you need one)...you'll be able to head a lot of problems off at the pass.
- Parents- teach your kiddos basic maintenance on the house and car. Write the instructions down in a notebook, along with favorite recipes and hints for what to take when they don't feel well. My daughter calls this her "mom hug book". I included a kit of basic over the counter meds and household items to get her started. Remember that it's hard to remember all of those emergency things in...well...an emergency!
- In the "mom hug book", you can also include reminders on tipping or phone numbers for the pizza place and the insurance company or any other "adulting" things your kids may need to remember how to do/call. If you put everything there, they will continue it and it will be a powerful resource.
- Calendar reminders will keep you from forgetting to keep up with home and auto maintenance.
So, parents, how have you done preparing for this "education gap"? I have found that a lot of my daughter's friends think that cleaning must be a marathon of perfection. But they're busy studying and so they put it off until it really is a big job. Remember, mom, good enough is good enough! And if you have a child heading off to college in 2016, it's not too late! Teach 'em how to wield a windex bottle now!
Oh and parents? Remember that when the last little chick leaves the nest all the jobs come back to you. You might want to study up on the "easy cleaning" list now! I invested in a bunch of "you don't have to bend over or crawl around on your hands and knees" cleaning supplies. And I keep saying "good enough is good enough" (although my knees say it before I do)!
Feeling blessed, how about you?