By George Baker
Getting your kids to help clean the house can be challenging. Many times, it is simply faster to do it yourself, rather than deal with the battle. But this does nothing to teach them how to clean. However, there are ways to get your kids moving and cleaning.
1. Make It A Game
This is great for younger kids who are cleaning a toy room. Ask them to bring you four items. When they show you the four, ask them to put the items away. Then ask them to bring you four more. The little ones love showing off what they’ve picked up, and will actually keep going back for more!
2. Give Them Each A Stack
When you have several kids who are trying to clean a really big mess, a common complaint is that so-and-so’s not cleaning. Eliminate this by piling the mess into as many stacks as there are children. Try to leave plenty of space between them as you do this, so the kids will still have time to work and clean. Each child is then assigned a stack, and when his or her stack is put away properly, he is free to leave the room. One caveat here is that regular attention will be needed, lest one stack just magically find its way into another.
3. Ask For Help, Give A Clear Goal
Kids always want to help, and sometimes just asking is enough to get them moving. However, they need to have a clear goal so they don’t get frustrated. For instance, if you are trying to clean the kitchen and you notice that the table is a mess, give your child a specific goal regarding the table. You could say, “I have to do the dishes. Can you please take all the papers on the table and put them in a neat stack for me?” You may be surprised at how willing your child is to comply. Once that is done, you could ask him to please put the papers on your desk to be sorted.
4. Surprisingly, Kids Love To Scrub
It’s hard to believe, but kids often love to polish wood, vacuum, and clean glass. Older kids can easily be put to work doing these things. Once the floor is picked up, put an older child to work vacuuming it. Younger kids get a kick out of polishing furniture. Give them the rag, you spray the table, then ask them to wipe it all over the table until it’s nice and shiny. If you’re going to be cleaning windows, let your little ones spray the window cleaner for you. They will love helping, and they’ll learn about housework in the process.
5. Turn The TV Off!
This can not be stressed enough. The TV is a time vampire and an incredible distraction. When you want your kids help cleaning, turn off the TV and all video games. Then, turn on the radio station to something with a peppy beat. Let them dance as they clean, sing along to the music. Whistling while you work really can make the job go faster, and your kids will appreciate it.
6. A Reward
No, the reward is not monetary. It’s something your kids want even more: Time with you. Tell them that when the work is done, you can all sit down together a play a game. Or maybe the reward can be a bike ride, a trip to the park, or making cookies together. The reward doesn’t have to cost money, and it should be something you will do together. Make sure that you don’t overwork them, so they’re still interested in the reward. Most importantly, follow through with it. If you promise your children a game of Monopoly for cleaning, then get that game out when the cleaning is done.
7. A Consequence, Cinderella-Style
Actions have natural consequences, and older children sometimes need to be reminded of that. The next time your son asks to have a friend over, tell him the house needs to be tidied first. If the work is done and the house is okay, the friend can come over. If the work is done, then a natural consequence is that he does not get to play. This also works for when your daughter wants to go to someone else’s home.
There are so many ways to get your children involved in cleaning. Not every suggestion will work for every child, but you are sure to find something that will work for your child. One of the most important things you can do is to start the cleaning habits as young as possible. Even toddlers can pick up their toys. The earlier they start helping with housework, the more agreeable they will always be about helping.