Spring is in the air—and with Spring comes the feeling of new beginnings, fresh starts and getting organized. If you’ve been bitten by the Spring Cleaning bug, try involving your kids by turning it into an ongoing family event. However, be warned—getting your kids to help out around the house can require the negotiation skills of a seasoned lawyer. So how do you bring kids and cleaning into the same room (pun intended)?
Depending on their ages and what’s on TV, asking your kids to clean their rooms or put away their toys will likely be met with a chorus of "Not now!" and "I'll do it later!". The biggest reason why kids don’t like cleaning and doing chores is because they feel it takes them away from doing something else they’d rather be doing. Here are some tips on how to get your kids, especially younger ones, on board the Spring Cleaning bandwagon.
All aboard the Spring Cleaning bandwagon
Make cleaning fun: Perhaps most importantly, make cleaning for you and your kids fun! This works well with younger children who are naturally energetic, curious and open to new experiences. Your youngster can have a ball dusting the hall corners, the back of the closet and low-level shelves by wearing a pair of clean socks on their hands. Turning cleaning into a race or contest where unloading the dishwasher or putting away toys is timed to see how fast it can be done adds an element of excitement to otherwise mundane chores.
Getting rid of old toys and clothes: Motivate your kids to get rid of items they no longer need by offering to buy one new toy or clothing item for every 10 they no longer use. Ask your kids to go through their clothes and toys and separate the items into things they want to keep and things they no longer need or use and would like to donate. Getting your kids, even as young as four or five, involved in these decisions avoids tantrums and fights later when a favourite old toy goes "missing" and helps to keep their closets and rooms up-to-date and tidy.
Label shelves and boxes with words or pictures: Putting toys and clothes away can be turned into a matching game for younger kids. Put pictures of socks on their sock drawer, or toys on their toy box, logo cut outs from the boxes of their favourite cereals on the kitchen shelf, and even their photo or name on their shoe cubby. The fun of matching the item to its proper spot adds a game element for younger kids and gradually makes returning items to the right spot a habit.
Create a chore chart: Having a chart of daily chores and responsibilities for your kids is a great way to embed structure and a sense of predictability. Depending on their ages, assign a different chore to each child every day—for example emptying the dishwasher on Mondays, or for the younger ones, putting their toys and books away before bed. Keep track of when they complete their chores with gold stars or stickers on their chore charts. Each time they complete a full week’s worth of chores without being told, reward them with an outing, a tasty treat or an inexpensive gift.
Consider giving older kids an allowance: The value of giving kids an allowance is a highly debated issue. However, making their allowance contingent on completing assigned household chores could very well teach your kids a sense of responsibility, the value of money, and expose them to the satisfaction that comes with being rewarded for a job well done. As an added bonus, motivating your kids to clean up through the allure of an allowance could help cut down on the time you spend cleaning up after them. Consider giving kids age 10 and over a set amount of “allowance money” at the end of each week that they earn when they complete all of their assigned chores on time.
Share you Spring Cleaning ideas with us
Do you have an idea on how to make cleaning fun and get your kids on board the Spring Cleaning band wagon? We’d love to hear your ideas! Send us a tweet of your Spring Cleaning ideas or a photo of your little ones helping you out at Twitter.com/CSTconsultants or post your ideas and photos to our wall at Facebook.com/CSTconsultants.