You see them everywhere – on the walls with crayons, in the fridge with hungry bellies – across the room, unearthing the Lego. They are even on your computer, patting happily away at the keyboard and sometimes on the screen.
Any mum would know these little hands have truly a hand at causing mayhem and havoc around the abode they know as their home. Whether it’s smashing up crackers or tossing building blocks across the living room, these little hands are those who were once cradled by the hand that will rock the world – you. That’s what they all say.
But between rocking the world and re-folding clothes, how does a mum get little children to help out around the house, while acknowledging the fact that there are little, busy hands that do enjoy the sanctity of a messy house?
A Little Interior Designing Ingenuity Would Help…
Having children requires some thought when it comes to rearranging and managing all the things you have in your home – whether they are furniture, boxes, toys, or breakables. All of these need to be arranged in a way that allows the less damage and the easiest clean up, without too much of clutter.
Boxes (with lids) that are kept and stored at appropriate heights are a little helpful. In fact, storage systems that are age appropriate are also encouraged in a multi-aged household.
Keep little books well in reach, as well as some toys, and everything else safely above them. In fact, keeping only a few books or toys around will help curtail the mess significantly. Books and toys can be rotated every 2 to 3 months to curb the clutter.
When each child has its own designated places for storage, cleaning up becomes a little easier. Have a little nook set up for the little ones, and they would be more likely to keep their own toys. Make it a habit to show them how to put toys away after they play. This is obviously easier for older children, but even for toddlers, their innate enthusiasm to copy others may play to your advantage.
Cultivate the Love for the Home…
Talking about the blessings of having a home and living as a family is one way to cultivate a deep love for the family home. Make it a habit to recite the morning du’a with your children and discuss how many blessings they have already received from Allah without venturing out of the home. The list is endless. Their beds, their belongings, their breakfasts and snacks –these are all blessings that often drop through their fingers without realizing it.
By reminding our children of how important their home is and how it’s one of the greatest blessings from Allah, they will also begin to develop a deep love for their Provider from a very young age, imbuing the emotion of gratitude, deep in their subconscious.
When children are naturally encouraged to be grateful, they tend to outgrow their phases of self-centeredness a little quicker. Say “Alhamdulillah” constantly for everything you have and children too, will grow in appreciation of how much they receive from their Lord.
Working together as a family is also a blessing, so remind each other that blessings come in all shapes and sizes.
Talk about the many children across the world who may not even have a pillow, let alone a proper shelter to go home to – or even a family. Different people have different trials and hardships, so while we take our blessings for granted – or even complain about them – there is always someone else out there who is praying for the same blessing.
By reminding your children that they are blessed, even with the smallest abode acts as a reminder to love their home and keep it neat and tidy. With that, constantly encourage them to always keep their toys and put their books back in place – because those – at any age – are precious blessings from Allah.
Create a Chore Chart…
Everyone in the family should have designated chores. Though the little ones may need help to keep their toys and pencils, make sure everyone works together to keep the play area tidy.
Older children may help out around the kitchen and even in the dining area, during meals.
Chores need to be ability-appropriate, such as taking out the garbage – and though some chores may take forever to get done, with little children always getting side-tracked and needing constant reminders, having household chores will help children and the family in the long run, as keeping tidy is an important habit to cultivate.
Quick Clean Up Time…
Fix a schedule for tidying up. Just before lunch, and just before winding down in the evenings, create a quick clean up time.
Get everyone to tidy up in 20 minutes and make it fun. Race, laugh and score points as everyone completes their tasks.
Turning this into a routine, helps in the long run as small tasks create habits and habits create character.
Create a Score Chart…
A score chart is a great way to reward children, though it would work for younger children.
A simple sticker chart for every chore done is a great way to motivate them to keep the house tidy. After a while, they will get so used to helping around the house that they wouldn’t need the score chart.
Other treats such as a trip to the park or ice cream are also great rewards for being wonderful children – but pace yourself too – or you would be dishing out rewards every single day – not that it’s a bad thing at all – at least the house is clean.
Let It Go and Enjoy….
Lastly, remember to let it go – all of it if it’s possible. We win some and we lose some. Sometimes we lose a lot, but the fact that there are children running havoc in our homes is more than a blessing alone. Remember that only Allah knows best, the trials of having and raising children, and with every hardship, (even a little one, like spilled milk), two blessings await their caregiver.
Some days the house will be cleaner than others, some days are beyond repair – but at the end of their childhood, everything has balanced out, and for the better at most, if they had fun and enjoyed the security of their own home with you – and with their little hands created memories, all over the house.
First published: March 2013