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My Kids Think I'm Their Maid!

By Kerry Flinders

Ever feel as if you are running around like a chicken with your head cut off?

Are there way too many things on your to-do list every day?

Are you constantly fighting at keeping your house picked up and orderly?

Do you have children?

Are they doing their fair share???

Or are you doing it for them?

Think about that. Are your children doing their fair share around the home, or are you doing their share for them? As a Professional Organizer I run across a lot of busy families where the kids are definitely NOT doing their fair share around the house.

Usually a busy mom will hire me to help them organize their home and also to help them organize their time. They find that their daily schedules are jam packed and not everything is getting done. They want my help.

The first thing I do, when I find out they have children, is ask them what their kids do around the house. Usually the kids are doing nothing more than setting the table for dinner. Sometimes they will also be responsible for clearing the table and perhaps emptying the trash each evening.

WHAT? Are you kidding me? That's it? Why on earth is that all your kids are doing? Your kids need to be pulling their weight around the house. If your children are responsible for their own things, as well as participating in the family cleaning now and then Mom wouldn't be so frazzled and behind.

Here's a quick break down of what your children should be expected to do at each age stage of their lives. Do NOT be afraid to make this list work in your home. You will be very glad you did.

1. Even at the young age of 2 your children should be expected to clean up after themselves, especially when they are done with one activity, before they go on to the next. Simply sit there with them and point at only one object at a time and direct them where to put it. Kids this age even think this is fun.

Do this every single night before they crawl into bed as well, to not only make sure their room is clean for them in the morning, but also to help them make it a habit that they can take with them into adulthood.

2. Children should be helping prepare the meals, set the table, clear the table and wash the dishes as soon as they are tall enough to handle each task. Our children need to learn that it is everyone's responsibility in the house to handle the meal details. Mom should not be doing all of the work herself if there are children in the home that are over the age of 3.

3. As soon as your child is tall enough to reach into the bottom of the washer teach them to do their own laundry. When my children were 9 years old I put a double bin laundry basket in each of their rooms. One side was for lights and one side was for darks. I taught them how to use the washer and the dryer, as well as how to fold their laundry and where to put it away correctly.

Then simply remind them when it's laundry time. You will probably have to remind them when the laundry buzzes as well. Be sure to check their drawers often to make sure they are actually doing it correctly.

I haven't done my children's laundry since they were each 9. Talk about freeing up my time.

4. Teach your children to clean the entire house. Now, I'm not saying make your child your maid. You don't like to be hers; she won't like to be yours. However, children need to know how to clean the house for many reasons.

First of all, the fact that your 10 year old now knows what is entailed with cleaning a bathroom, that child is going to be less likely to mess the room up so fast now.

Second of all, there are going to be times when you need the extra help. Perhaps you have a party planned, but you're running out of time. Set those kids loose on the house. If you've trained them well, then they"ll do a fine job.

Third of all, your children need to be able to keep house for when they are adults and move out on their own. You would be surprised by how many of my clients do NOT know how to clean the bathroom properly because their Mothers always did it for them.

5. Be sure to make your children responsible for their own things. You should not be picking up their shoes, backpacks, toys, videos, games etc. If they were old enough to get the item out and use it then they're very capable of cleaning it up and returning it to its correct home.

Call the kids in from playing outside. Pull them off the video games. You may think it is quicker and easier to just pick the stuff up yourself, but basically what you are teaching your children is that you are indeed their maid. Make them clean up after themselves every time.

You have to remember that if you act like your children's maid then they will definitely treat you like one. Your job as a parent is NOT to be their maid. Your job is to teach your child how to be a healthy active member of our society by the time you unleash them into our world. They need to know how to clean up after themselves. They need to know how to cook and how to organize their spaces. They need to realize that no one is here to wait on them or to clean up after them, not even Mom.

By teaching your children to be responsible for their own messes, as well as teaching them how to be an active part of a functioning family unit you are teaching them how to survive in our world. You are teaching them important things that they will need to know how to do when they move out.

Best of all, you will no longer feel like their maid. Yes, you will need to be their supervisor, but a supervisor has a lot less work to do than a personal maid.

So, teach your children how to be neat and tidy. Teach them to be responsible for themselves. Then simply supervise their efforts. And don't feel bad if you have to make them redo something. Even if you have to make them redo it over and over and over again. That is how they are going to learn"by doing it over until they have learned to do it right the first time.

Copyright 2005 Kerry Flinders

About The Author

Kerry Flinders is the owner of Personal Organizing Solutions located in Southern California. Kerry and her company are dedicated to helping others organize their clutter and their lives, eliminating unnecessary stress and helping the client to find more time in their day for the things they love. Kerry is the author of the book "Organizing With NO Budget". You can find out more about Kerry and Personal Organizing Solutions by visiting their website at


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