Let’s face it, raising kids is messy. Keeping a clean and tidy home may feel like mission impossible for busy parents––especially when you find yourself surrounded by tiny socks, abandoned sippy cups and LEGO bricks that are just waiting to unleash their sharp edges on bare feet. Though it can be challenging to keep things in order when you’ve got young children at home, it’s not impossible. In fact, the secret is to make your kids part of the solution rather than the problem.
Getting your kids involved in cleaning chores is a great way to teach responsible care for a home and working together as a team to accomplish a goal. Putting together an age-appropriate cleaning checklist for your kids will teach them personal responsibility and, most importantly, take some items off your to-do list.
From spring cleaning to back-to-school organizing, here’s how to get the kiddos in on the act all year long.
Know how to motivate
- Work together
When cleaning and picking up is part of the expectations you establish within the family, kids catch on quickly and accept that they are an important part of making the household run smoothly and neatly. Toddlers especially love to help out and often feel such pride in their accomplishments.
- Offer an incentive
Having a reward system in place is a must for keeping kids engaged and motivated. Giving your kids a treat after a long day of chores shows your appreciation and teaches them about the rewards of hard work. Whether it’s an ice cream run or a little extra allowance, it’s always important to thank the kids for their help.
- Delegate wisely
Find tasks that are within a child’s capability. For 2- and 3-year-olds, that might mean putting toys back where they belong or collecting place mats after meals. Try to give one simple instruction or direction at a time. To a 5- or 6-year-old, “Clean up your room” is an overwhelming statement, but “put away all the cars in their container” offers more direction and sets the child up for success.
- Set a timer
Use a timer everyone can take a look at and break work into achievable chunks of both time and tasks. This helps alleviate the feeling that something is too much or impossible. Alternatively, create a custom playlist with your family’s favorite songs and see how much can be accomplished before the song ends.
- Adjust expectations.
Avoid stopping the child mid-task and doing it for them — this can encourage them to quit cleaning on a regular basis because they know you’ll step in. Aim to do tasks together and tackle chores as a family at the same time. Be proud of your child’s efforts, and don’t expect perfection.
As the snow begins to melt and temperatures begin to rise, you’ll want to get ready to enjoy your home’s outdoor areas as a family.
Cleaning off the patio furniture is a great outdoor job to pass off to the kids. Small-profile scrub brushes are made for tight-space cleaning and are ideal to use on the wooden slats and wicker grooves of outdoor patio furniture.
Pick up a bottle of good patio furniture cleaner at any home improvement store and mix the soap and water in a bucket. Dip the brush into the bucket to wet the bristles and then start cleaning the furniture. Rinse off the dirty water and soap with a garden hose––kids love this part especially!––and let air dry.
With April showers long past, your home exterior may be looking a little grimy. Tackle dirty problem areas like windows and siding together. Let your kids help clean lower-level windows; it’s easy and safe.
Wash brushes with extendable handles––make sure there is a flow-through hole!––are an excellent choice for this particular chore. Look for one with soft yet durable bristles that can be used on all surfaces, including glass and vinyl, and can retain water as you clean. If you have kids of driving age, let them exchange a good scrub of the family car for a night out with the keys.
Have kids sweep leaves and outdoor debris from confined, designated areas like driveways, front porches and back decks. When sweeping leaves (or any dirt or even a light layer of snow) off a hard surface, there’s no better tool than a push broom.
To go from a regular broom to a push broom is like switching from a snow shovel to a snowplow. The 24-inch brush head of a push broom bulldozes leaves with minimal effort, making it the ideal tool for kids. They won’t tire out nearly as quickly, and they won’t run into many things that they and their broom can’t move.
With the kids home for winter break, family coming to visit for the holidays and an uptick in cold and flu cases, winter is an excellent time to give your bathrooms some extra cleaning love.
Focusing on the bathrooms also provides an opportunity to teach your kids about the important role personal hygiene plays in keeping yourself and loved ones healthy. For those hard-to-reach corners and crevices, look for a brush with a raised handle for extra leverage when scrubbing.
No matter the season, it’s always a good time to get kids in on the action of keeping your home clean and comfortable. Not only will you be teaching them great responsibility, you’ll end up spending some great quality time together.Explore cleaning products