Cleaning & Cooking with Children

As I pursue teaching and my children and caring for the tasks of daily life, I love being able to combine both- and so do they!

Recently, I posted this short list of my day’s activities on Facebook:

I then received the question, “How do you do it?”

I only have two children right now, ages 4-years and 19-months (although I’m not sure that’s entirely relevant, after reading Large Family Logistics…). :) If you are in the season of a newborn baby who still nurses for hours on end, or some other such circumstance, please give yourself grace.

However, I’ll share what the days often look like for me, since I know many of us are hoping to tackle some Spring Cleaning in the coming days!

That day, the schedule went like this:

6:30 am- Nurse Toddler, Bible Reading

7:00 am- Baking, while little ones played.

8:00 am- Family Breakfast Time

9:00 am- We had a pretty relaxed morning, and Calvin was gone with the fire department. We got dressed, brushed teeth, cleaned up the kitchen, started the dishwasher, laundry, etc.

10:00 am- We did homeschooling in the morning (toddler played with blocks at my feet), and some fun read-aloud books from the library.

Throughout the morning, I asked the children to help move the laundry through the washer & dryer quickly as the loads got done. (Since we have front-loaders, I was able to let them do this by themselves, and I just needed to add soap, and push the “on” buttons. They can reach baskets safely, and have figured out their own “assembly line” system.) :)

On the following day, we cleaned instead of doing laundry. The 4-yo enthusiastically¬† ran the vacuum with the long hose with brush attachment (so she didn’t have to push it), and the toddler helped me put away dishes (he knows where most things go!), sweep the floor, and scrub the bathroom. The 4-yo sometimes will also help wash counters or windows with a safe spray cleaner & rag.

Noon- Lunch (simple sandwiches, children helped make their own) & Clean-Up

1:00- Lay Toddler down for his Nap (Calvin stopped in and let the 4-yo go on a quick errand with him, otherwise she would have done a quiet activity while I was upstairs.)

1:30-“Quiet Resting Time”- I read & napped while the toddler slept (some days, I will do my writing/office work during this time), and the 4-yo looked at books too. Calvin worked on his seminary studies and office work.

3:00- Nurse Toddler upon waking, then children had playtime. (Calvin was still studying/working.) I folded laundry in the afternoon in the same room where they played, and gave discipline as needed. Then they both helped put away their own laundry (they know where most items go), with supervision.

4:30- I began starting dinner (little ones “helped” with food prep). (You can see Gen insisted on measuring out everyone’s serving of lacto-fermented sauerkraut, while her little brother scooped out quinoa. She usually insists on wearing her apron; I’m not sure why she didn’t that day.) :)

Both children love to help pour and stir (sometimes this means placing the pans on the floor, so they can pour in the cups of rice, etc). The 4-yo can independently slice some things with a butter knife, such as soft cheeses or butter, or tear lettuce/greens. Both children help get out & put away needed items from the pantry, carry compost to the bin, throw away trash, get out needed dishes for cooking/eating, etc. Lots of tasting goes on, too.

Then we had our family dinner time, and the rest of our evening activities of baths, Bible reading/family worship, and tidying up.

How do you keep the days going smoothly?

This post is part of:

Works for Me Wednesday
Kitchen Tip Tuesday at Tammy’s Recipes

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6 comments to Cleaning & Cooking with Children

  • Thanks for letting us in on a little bit of your life, Michele!
    One thing that I do relates to my post today, which is baking in bulk. Another thing is to try to do first things first. Time in the Word and nice greetings to my family. This is hard because I don’t wake up feeling well most days, but I am working on it and it is getting a lot better. Just a nice start makes the whole day go smoother!

    Blessings….

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  • Diana

    Great job! I think it’s very important to include the kids in every day part of life. Right now they think cleaning is fun. In a few more years, they will be able to do a lot of the work by themselves and you won’t have to instruct them as much on it.

    My son is 7, he puts away the clean dishes – by himself (I do still have to correct where things go as we have moved so much it’s always changing!). He also folds his laundry and puts it away by himself. He does enjoy helping me in the kitchen, and wants to learn lots about cooking so he can cook a meal by himself.

    [Reply]

  • I actually just posted on this type of thing today :) My girls follow me around as I clean & I fit cleaning into their natural routine… no specific times for anything, which works perfectly for us.

    When it comes to spring cleaning, I just add a bit of it into each day of cleaning and tackle one project at a time, as I’m able to.

    [Reply]

  • TJ

    This is why I LOVE vinegar and lemon cleaner! I would never get anything done if I had to use unsafe chemicals. Now, my 3 year old loves to clean bathrooms with me (she sticks to the less icky places like floors and sinks), as well as do the laundry. She was even able to rinse off all our lunch dishes and hand them to me to put in the dishwasher. I’m dreading the day she realizes that its actually “work.”

    [Reply]

  • Hi Michele,

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I often read your blog and a few others and wonder how you do all the child-raising, cooking, creating and writing with two little ones, and I have only one – 13 months. I guess I am now getting into a bit of an easier stage where he doesn’t need constant care with feedings, etc and I should have given myself a little slack in his earlier months. I can see now that our schedules are quite similar. I do most of the laundry on the same day and try to get the rest of the cleaning done the next day or two. Pre-baby, I used to clean everything all in one day and do all the laundry but I’ve just found it is not possible now. It is frustrating to me sometimes but I just need to let it go. It is so much less stressful. Thanks for sharing. Your blog is so soothing.

    I also love the guest blog entry about being creative! I have an insatiable appetite to create especially sewing and crocheting and sometimes cooking! It is an encouraging thought that when Wesley is rolling around in my fabric, throwing scraps around and gnawing on my rulers while I sew, he’s observing me and learning to be creative too! I can’t wait to see what creative things he will do. How fun it will be to create together! And it is good to hear that the laundry can just sit for a day so we can create. I think God finds pleasure in our creativity.

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  • […] children love to help with the laundry, and were thrilled to see my new colorful Wool Dryer Balls from The Willow […]

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