Stay On Top of the Mess, Part 2

boy with clean room

A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place

Use a Work (Play) Mat

Put Away the Sentimental & Valuable

In our classrooms, whatever is visible and reachable is available to be touched.  When our homes follow the same trend, it decreases anxiety and stress for parent and child.   If you leave something accessible to children, just be aware and OK with the possibility of it being damaged.  In addition, knickknacks can clutter a space and make it more time consuming to dust and clean! 

girl organizing at preschool
This child in our Children’s House community is using a work mat as she completes a sorting activity.


childrens artwork at preschool
Children’s House students displaying their artwork which demonstrates the “Jackson Pollock” painting technique.

What About Chores?

In the Montessori classroom and home, we usually don’t refer to housekeeping tasks as “chores”.  Instead, we call them “practical life skills”.  The child is typically invited to be a part of the housekeeping process, and it is always presented in a positive light.  Young children find much joy in contributing to the household, and it’s up to us to encourage this enthusiasm rather than discourage it with comments such as, “You’re too young,” or, “That’s not how you do it,” or, “It’s easier if I do it myself.”   Instead, include your child in the process.  When you unload the dishwasher, ask your child to sort through the silverware and place them in the drawer.  When you wash dishes, allow them to rinse them or dry them.  When children spend time doing something with those they love, joy is an automatic byproduct.

We also need to analyze our attitude to our own tasks – for children will catch what we model.  Do we express our annoyance with having to clean, or do we express how happy it makes us to have a clean sink, or how easy it will be to find what you need next time because you put it back where it belongs.  Keep your attitudes and your words positive and upbeat.  When you’re done cleaning, sit back and take a moment to appreciate your work and express how it makes you feel!  Your children will be watching you. 

Consider the following:

  • What chores is your child capable of performing?
  • What tools do they need to do the job? Keep what they need within reach.  For example, rags, or a spray bottle of soapy water or vinegar water.
  • What chores can you invite your child to do alongside you?


Set a routine and be consistent and be positive!

chores for ages 2-3
chores for ages 3-6

The 15-Minute Clean Up

Do one or two 15-minute clean ups a day – a suggestion is to do one before naptime (or after lunch) and one before bedtime.  Set a timer for 15 minutes and encourage everyone in the family to tidy up, reminding them to put things in their proper place. Again, children love to work alongside Mom or Dad, so partner up with a child and tackle one room at a time!

Addressing the Laundry Beast

happy girl at preschool
One of our Children’s House students is helping fold our classroom laundry!

Wrapping Up

The season of life with littles underfoot is a fleeting one.  Believe it or not, there will be a day you might actually miss stepping on those Legos they left out, or wiping sticky fingerprints off your patio door and stainless steel dishwasher! 

Life is filled with seasons, and you may need a reminder today that those pristine Instagram rooms are not daily reality.  You have to do whatever works for you and your family in this season of life. 

And remember, a little mess just means that your house is a home; it is a place where your children are nurtured and loved and where their imaginations can fly and creativity flow. 


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