Teach your child…to grab a toilet brush

While I did my own laundry since I was 13, cleaning anything beyond that was all learned “on the job” as they say.  I kinda knew how to dust in that I watched my mom dust often. But for her dusting wasn’t merely dusting; it was a bucket with Murphy’s and water, a wash cloth, removing everything from every surface, wiping it down, letting it dry, putting everything back. What kid has time for that? So while I knew her method for dusting, I had no interest.

But I was never taught a systematic way to clean a home. I’m not sure if it was deemed common sense, or she figured I saw her enough to pick it up, or it was pure oversight, or something else all together. All I know is that I entered adulthood totally unprepared for this area of adulthood and was left to sink or swim.

I could physically sweep a floor and push a vacuum. Those weren’t all that difficult. But there was one task that was dreaded; even frightening. The thought of entering a bathroom for the purpose of cleaning a toilet was beyond repulsive to me for the first few years of my adult life.  So much so that I just didn’t. It seemed scary, certainly gross, and I didn’t have any kind of plan or roadmap for how to accomplish the task.star wars

That mindset makes me laugh now as my 10 and 8 year old girls have been cleaning our bathrooms for 2 years.  And once I can somewhat trust that my boys won’t use the toilet brush as a lightsaber, they too will be trained on how to clean a bathroom.

Everyone uses the bathroom; it just makes sense that someone needs to clean it. This is one of those thankless jobs that needs to get done. Well, need may be strong, because as I indicated, I avoided cleaning my bathroom for a while.  But for the sake of a fully pleasant bathroom experience, a regular cleaning is essential. In general, no one wants to clean the toilet, but everyone appreciates a clean toilet.

Do your child a favor, do their future spouses and children a favor, teach them to pick up a toilet brush.

My younger girl had a harder time with her new chore. Much like my mindset, it was all ICK to her. I was matter of fact about responding to that. “We all use the bathroom. You use the bathroom. Someone needs to clean it. It’s much easier to keep it clean than it is to clean it after it’s been neglected for a while.”

Two years later, she breezes through the chore and leaves us with sparkling porcelain.

My System

So how did I teach a 6 & 8 year old to clean a bathroom? Same way one eats an elephant.

Tools needed:

  • Roll of paper towels
  • Spray bottle with cleaner of choice
  • Toilet brush
  • Toilet cleaner of choice (I use baking soda and vinegar)
  • Plastic bag for garbage

We have two bathrooms.  I keep these supplies under both sinks so that they can both clean at the same time without having to pass supplies back and forth. It makes the whole process far easier.

First, I printed out a checklist for them. I gave them a visual to follow so that if ever they forgot what to do next, all they had to do was look at the list and pick up from where they left off.

Second, I walked them through it. The first time I cleaned and they watched. I showed them exactly what I did, in the specific order on the list. To a large degree the order did not matter, but keeping a consistent order allows them to remember faster. The same order each time speeds up the process of it becoming second nature.

In our house bathrooms are cleaned once a week, on Saturday. But for the sake of teaching, we did three days in a row.

Day 1 – I cleaned, they watched

Day 2 – They cleaned using the checklist, I watched: making corrections and offering reminders as needed.

Day 3 – They cleaned with the goal of not needing my input at all.

After the three day tutorial we resumed the once a week schedule.  For the first few weeks I did a visual inspection when they finished.  For the first few weeks they usually missed something and I had to point it out and they had to correct it.  After a while they had the system down pat and it was smooth sailing.

At some point they no longer needed that checklist, which was initially posted to the back of the bathroom door for ease.

Two years in now, they will occasionally get lazy and I will have to point out what they overlooked. But all in all, our system works, bathrooms are cleaned and my girls have an important “adult” skill mastered.

Mom, Dad, teach your kids to pick up a toilet brush.  It’s good for them.

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