Most times, getting children involved in any time of household chore is just that: a chore. But if you make it fun and rewarding for them, you may find that they are more willing to help than you ever thought possible. Turning this overwhelming chore into a family affair makes things more enjoyable for everyone involved. And, as an added bonus, getting your children involved when they are young helps teach them responsibility and gives them a sense of purpose and accomplishment—important traits that will certainly benefit them on the road to adulthood.
Make It Fun!
To kick everyone into gear and add a little pizazz to your cleaning routine, turn on some kid-friendly tunes and blare them through the house. The music will get those cleaning juices flowing and keep their minds and bodies moving. Plus, it provides a sense of unity when everyone is dancing, singing and having fun.
Divide and Conquer
Before getting started, it makes sense to dole out assignments to each family member. Older kids can be responsible for an entire room at a time without too much guidance, but children four and under should be your personal helper and given one task at a time with some supervision on your part.
So, what are some of the tasks with which little hands can help?
- Window blinds – Take ‘em outside, and let your little guy spray those suckers down with a garden hose until his heart is content. It is a quick and easy way to remove months (or even years) of dust without using too much elbow grease. After all is said and done, you may only have to do a quick once-over to ensure the blinds are squeaky clean, but be sure to do this after you have given him lots of praise for his hard work.
- Dusting – Give her a dry cloth or handy-dandy microfiber duster and let her go to town on coffee tables, speakers, lamps, etc. From her unique perspective, she may spot dusty items that you hadn’t even considered. To make this a tag-team event, you can spray each surface and let her buff to a sparkling sine.
- Floorboards – Nobody, I repeat, nobody likes messing with these, but they attract dirt like it is going out of style. Wet a rag or sponge and challenge her to get each and every speck of dirt. Or, make it a game, and each of you start on a different end. Once you meet in the middle, see whose side is cleaner. You may have to go over her side again, but at least you’ll have a bit of a head start. Once again, be sure to heap lots of praise upon her before going over her side so her sense of accomplishment isn’t demeaned.
- Bedding – Removing each and every piece of bedding can be a pain the you-know-what, but after months of wear, it could use a good sudsing. Because he already has a love of tearing things apart, let him go at it. Pulling off sheets, pillow cases/shams, bed skirts, etc., lets him satisfy his sense of destruction while helping you out in the process. It’s a win-win.
- Laundry – She may not share your love of organization, but you can turn sorting loads of laundry into a game that even she cannot resist. Perhaps she gets a point for every item placed into the correct load. She may also enjoy adding the detergent and/or dryer sheets, pressing the start button, switching loads from washer to dryer and even folding smaller items such as wash clothes, hand towels, socks and undies.
- Floor care – He is probably not quite ready to run the vacuum or mop the kitchen floor, but he can help with the preparations. Allow him to move smaller items out of the way so your path is as uncluttered as possible. Once you are finished, he can help put things back in their proper places.
- Organization – You may be the only one who abides by the “rules” of organizing their toys and belongings, but getting them involved may set the standard going forward. Give him a general idea of which toys fit where, then let him go. Sprinkle some fun into this task by pulling out the timer and seeing how quickly he can get things finished. Nothing gets a kid moving like a sense of competition.
- Hand-me-downs – Helping to pick out clothing, household items and toys to hand down to family/friends or donate to your local charity can give her a sense of generosity. Not to mention, she won’t be so upset when she goes to find a toy missing, only to discover you donated it while she was at school. Giving her authority over what gets donated can take the guesswork out of this mundane process.
Now that you have finally finished spring-cleaning, it is payment time. Special treats, a fun outing or cold hard cash are perfect choices not just for rewarding your hard-working kids, but also to get them psyched for the next bout of seasonal cleaning. There is no need to go it alone when little hands can make a big difference.
Please contact us (859-525-8181) if you have any questions about when to introduce responsibility into your childs life. If needed, Dr. Sharon Schroeder is certified in pediatric medicine and psychiatry.