Kids are great helpers, especially when they’re young, so get them involved sooner rather than later. A lot of what children learn is based on mimicking the adults around them and picking up on the skills, and eventually responsibilities, that come with growing up.
1) Be Specific, but Realistic
We all remember the TV moms and dads yelling at their kids to “go
clean your room,” but I think we can all also agree that the effects of those words in real life tend to fall short of their on-screen counterparts. Instead, try giving children a list of specific, age appropriate tasks such as:
- Make your bed
- Put toys back where they belong
- Put dirty clothes in the laundry basket
And if your children are too young to read, try drawing or painting pictures of what you want them to do and show them by helping them along. And remember not to expect the world – preschoolers may not know that food has to be scraped off of the plates before they go into the dishwasher.
Try to go through your children’s toys and clothes every 6 months or so (maybe more if they’re growing like weeds) and get rid of unnecessary clutter. This will not only teach your kids how to clean but also help them develop less of an attachment to material items. They’ll learn about helping others and that it is a lot easier to care for all your things when you don’t have as many.
Make a rule that if a toy box starts to overflow, that means it’s time to go through them and give some away to other boys and girls who don’t have as many toys. Make a donation box for kids to put things they want to give away into and bring them along when you donate the box.
3) Make it a game
Challenge kids to complete a certain task by the end of a song. If they finish early, they get to dance! Dancing and goofing around are huge motivators for kids. Make sure mom and dad participate too!
Play the color game – name a color and have kids run around picking up everything that is that color and putting it back where it goes.
Play cleaning tic-tac-toe! Make a tic tac toe chart with chores in each box. The kids have to take turns doing chores on the chart and work together to beat mom or dad at tic-tac-toe. Winner gets to choose what board game to play that night!
Maybe even do a scavenger hunt! If there is an age difference, assign comparable tasks and whoever finishes their fastest and most thoroughly wins a treat or maybe get to pick where to go for a snack so that both kids get a reward for cleaning, but the one who did it best gets the choice of where to go.
4) Play Pretend
Young kids love playing pretend, so incorporate that into your cleaning activities. Use a make believe cleaning company – you guys have to do the job to make the customer happy and then the customer brings you cookies or gives you “money” to pay you for your service. When kids collect enough fake money, they can trade it in for a prize – a quick trip to the dollar store will set you up nicely with a basket of prizes for any age.
5) Keep a Calendar
Get a cute calendar – maybe even one for each kid – and get stickers to indicate which day certain chores are done. Help kids get into the routine and when something special comes up, ask them to help out – like painting a room or putting stuff away after dinner, brushing the dog or even weeding the garden! You can incorporate the “store card” or “punch card” system here and let kids build up points to trade in for a prize or even a gift card to their favorite store.