As children, many of us probably envied our parents just a little during spring-cleaning season, particularly if they were the type to respond to declarations of boredom with a list of apparently nonsensical household tasks. With heavy hearts — sprinkled with a smattering of annoyance — we'd get to work on the washing up, finish the window cleaning, or begin sanding the stair rails.
Parenting styles have evolved significantly since those stair-sanding, dishwashing youthful days of yore. Even then, discipline levels and communication techniques varied from family to family: now, however, we have parenting globalization to contend with.
Today, child-rearing demonstrations exist on television, too. Radical approaches, contentious debates, an ever-increasing list of long-term consequences and "super-nannies" with a sixth sense akin to Mary Poppins remind us — on a daily basis — that we could be doing just a little better. Refreshing, no?
As parents, the full complexity of life suddenly becomes apparent. Then we realize that we have to somehow equip our joyous little bundles with the know-how to navigate the world. We have to teach them survival skills.
"Wait: Spring-cleaning is a survival skill? The kids won't buy this…."
Why yes, it is. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then we'll begin.
No Whining, Little Johnny: Cleaning is a Survival Skill
In essence, the annual spring-cleaning frenzy is a collection of routine maintenance tasks. Some tasks need to get done if you want to remain comfortable in your home. Other tasks are essential if you plan to survive: especially if you live in an area that gets very cold in the winter, or very hot in the summer.
If you heat your house with a corn-burning or wood-burning stove, for example, regular chimney maintenance is essential. If the stove's chimney doesn't get cleaned, it will eventually plug completely and you'll end up with a smoke-filled home. At the very least, smoke stinks like crazy and stains everything in sight. Smoke inhalation can also cause serious damage to the lungs.
So, some chores really are essential to survival.
"Wait a minute: What about washing up?"
We'll talk about that next.
Sit Down Suzy: Let's Talk About Cause and Effect
FACT: Raw chickens are notorious smugglers: chicken meat is often covered in a bacterial bevy, which is destroyed when it is cooked. Among the hidden threats are tiny little sausage-shaped germs called salmonella, which have a very unpleasant — and occasionally fatal — effect on the human digestive tract.
Before stomping off to the kitchen in frustration, consider what might happen if we left last night's chicken dinner dishes sitting in the sink for three days:
1. Bacteria in our mouths end up on our forks, which we put in the sink with the rest of the dishes. Salmonella bacteria from the chopping board we used to cut up the chicken can add extra zing to the combination.
2. Bacteria multiply quickly, particularly in a warm, moist environment like food, or a kitchen sink. The "danger zone" starts at 40°F and goes all the way up to 140°F.
3. Here's how quickly one germ can turn into a billion little beasties, all of them too small to be seen by the human alone:
4. Bacteria in the kitchen sink can spreads quickly: taps, rags, countertops, doors, hands…. Basically, everywhere in your home. In a very short space of time.
5. At some point, hands and mouths meet. Human bodies make perfect bacterial incubators and when bacteria get into a digestive tract, food poisoning can occur very quickly.
Can you imagine how many bacteria might be on a chicken-contaminated chopping board after three days? Hazmat suits can, thankfully, be found on Amazon….
TIP: Kiddies see, kiddies do. To make a food hygiene lesson — or any other message — count, your tots have to see you following your own advice. Kids' learning styles vary: some children prefer to watch a demonstration, while others prefer to read a set of instructions. In both cases, however, they look to you for the ultimate example of what to do and what not to do.
Kids and Communities
Human communities remain strong through teamwork; in modern times, adults complete most of the big, important tasks. This infrastructure may seem logical: it does, however, have a downside.
Kids are often left feeling insignificant. Their chores feel like pointless "play work." They want to be really useful: they want to be just like you.
When children are made aware of an essential chore's potentially lifesaving role, they recognize the importance of their apparently small contribution. It's not really small at all: it's essential, just like the chore. When kids know that they are vital members of a family — and a community — they feel included, purposeful and proud of themselves.
So go ahead, spring-clean your heart out: involve your children and pass the fruitful legacy on to the next generation. If that isn't positive parenting, what is?
Bacterial Growth Image Citation