Teaching Your Kids To Clean Up In The Bathroom
As a mother and as a person, I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining a clean and welcoming bathroom. Thanks to indoor plumbing and all the trappings of modernity, the experience of showering, washing your hands, or doing your business is a far more pleasant one than at any other point in human history. But we set our standards relative to our experiences – not to what we read in a textbook – meaning that a dirty bathroom will always be highly unappealing. The fact that it has running water does little to placate the issue.
Really, bathroom cleanliness should be a simple affair: leave it how you found it. Don’t make it painfully clear that you were there.
This is obviously far easier said than done. In reality, there are two main factors that explain why it’s so easy for a bathroom to get dirty:
1. By its very nature, the bathroom is a place where water, hair, and dirt all mix. Add in the fact that we’re far more likely to get grossed out by an unclean bathroom than, say, pantry or mudroom, and it’s understandable that the place gets messy – and, when it does, that we immediately recognize this.
2. Cleaning the bathroom requires individual responsibility. My children do chores and help around the house in a variety of capacities, but ultimately I will insure that the kitchen or living room is clean if they don’t take proper initiative. But the mess made in a bathroom is made by an individual outside of the communal family setting. Therefore each person needs to do their part to leave it just as clean as they found it.
So how am I teaching my kids to be more responsible with their bathroom cleaning? My approach isn’t groundbreaking, but I’ve found it to be effective. Here’s what I do:
-Provide constant reminders. I don’t consider myself a nudge and I don’t care to push the issue, but if the bathroom is unclean, I won’t hesitate to remind my children that they have a responsibility to ensure otherwise.
-Make the medicine closet a “catch-all.” I can’t stand when toothpaste, floss, tweezers, and my jar of lavender essential oil are all sitting out on the sink countertop and cluttering the bathroom. To make sure that this doesn’t happen and that things get put away, I tell my children that the medicine closet is their one-stop-shop for bathroom cleanup. Anything that they use – or anything that they find sitting out – can simply be put on any shelf in that closet. It doesn’t matter where so long as it’s not next to the sink.
-Keep water in the tub. Bathrooms can get disgusting quickly when people start spreading water into all recesses of the room. So my house has a simple rule to counter this issue: after a shower or a bath, we all dry ourselves off in the tub before stepping out onto the bathroom mat. This ensures that most of the water goes where it’s supposed to go – into the drain.
-Incorporate hair removal into the bathroom process. Nobody in my family enjoys finding hair in the sink or shower drain, so it wasn’t difficult to teach my children to remove any hair as part of their regular bathroom routine. After showering, pick hair out of the drain before drying off. After combing hair in front of the mirror, wipe away any hair before putting the comb away.
These are a few tips that my family and I follow in an effort to keep the bathroom clean. Teaching children clean bathroom skills can be a difficult proposition, especially since it’s one of the few places in the house where they do their business unsupervised. But teaching them the importance of such cleanliness will stay with them for the rest of their life. They might as well start learning now.