7 Cleaning Rules I Want to Pass Down to My Children

published Oct 11, 2022
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There’s a well-meaning mommy meme out there about sticky floors and happy children. But here’s how that would work in our house: Sticky floors mean an unhappy mama and when mama ain’t happy… well, we all know the rest of that one. I have learned to let a lot of things go and I’m conscious about not missing opportunities for connection by constantly cleaning or organizing.

On the other hand, though, I’m too affected by my surroundings to be a pleasant person for long when I’m drowning in disorder. Not only that, but I want my children to get used to a certain standard of cleanliness since this is what they’ll internalize and carry on with their own families one day. My mother passed her standards on to me, and now it’s my turn.

Whether it’s from being in the environment we provide for them or from the ways of doing thing that we actually teach them, here are the cleaning rules I hope to pass down to my children:

1. Never go to bed with a dirty kitchen.

This way you’ll start the next day with a clean kitchen. I cannot even imagine what a drag it is to walk into a dirty kitchen in the morning because I seriously never leave the kitchen dirty at night. Can’t do it.

2. Wipe containers before putting them away.

To keep cupboards, fridge shelves, and the pantry clean, you need to make sure that the containers you place in them are clean. This is especially true when you have containers out on the table or out while you’re cooking. Wipe any drips or spills with a damp rag before putting back the condiment bottle or the flour container.

3. Leave a space better than when you found it.

We’re working hard on this one and right now it means I’m just repeating the phrase often, but I really hope that when my kids are out there in the wide wide world, they take this one with them. And I hope it extends beyond physical space and objects, too.

4. Put it away when it’s in your hand.

As with many of these, this lesson is straight from my own mother. I reinforce this by having them stop what they’re doing and putting away something that they just dropped down rather than putting away while it was in-hand. But, honestly, I need to work on consistency with this one myself!

5. Notice how a space makes you feel.

One part of this is taking pride in your work. When the kids clean out their messy closets or organize the craft cabinet with me, we always take a moment to admire the results of our work. But I want them to also realize that a messy area can lead to subtle inner stress and that sometimes the way to address irritability could be by clearing the clutter off the counters. The big picture in this one is that what we surround ourselves with can be both an expression and a factor of how we’re doing — and it’s malleable from both angles.

6. Scrubbing the sink Is part of cleaning the kitchen at night.

My kids find it fascinating (and disgusting) that the sink is probably dirtier than the toilet seat. The extension of this thought is that we need to clean it! A nightly scrub down with a powder-based cleaner like Comet (just like my own mother had us do) helps keep it as clean as possible.

7. Clean as you go.

When my children cook with me, it’s almost as much of a cleaning lesson as a cooking lesson. I always have them put a little square of paper towel on the counter for resting teaspoons that have vanilla extract on them and a wet rag for wiping up spills before they dry. If I can teach them this habit, cooking will be so much easier for them because clean-up will be so much easier!

This post was originally published on Apartment Therapy. Read it there: 7 Cleaning Rules I Want to Pass Down to My Children