Ways to Make Cleaning Fun for Children
Cleaning with your kids is a great opportunity to bond, teach life skills, and have some help with housework (they live here too, you know!). Kids aren't born knowing how to clean, so it is important to choose age-appropriate tasks, use one-step commands, and model ideal habits. You want to choose tasks that are not too complex or require fine motor-skills beyond the child's development. Asking a small child to dust breakable knick-knacks might seem simple, but you are setting yourself up for broken glass and tears. With your little ones in mind, here are a few ways to have your kids help with cleaning around the house.
Pickup Time Is Fun Time
If you are struggling to make storage, organization, and cleaning fun, take a tip from Mary Poppins and try to combine it with play! One of my daughter’s favorite games is tea party, which involves getting out all her stuffed animals, toy food, and dishes. When she is done serving tea, she loves to arrange all her toy food and dishes inside of her Fisher Price refrigerator. She has fun doing it and (please don’t tell her this) is actually organizing her room! All her stuffed animals used to live on her bed which was super cute and cozy. The downside was every night when she got in bed every stuffed animal would go on the floor. Then it would turn into a fight about who picked them up, where did they belong on the bed, how long it took to put them away, everything! We were both tired of it to say the least. Our solution was to get something to store just the stuffed animals in. She choose an enormous pink plastic bucket and ever since we got it that is where her animals have lived. No stress, no fuss, and they are still all within reach of the bed.
Chore ≠ Bore
Since not everyone loves to clean (gasp!), here are some ways to make cleaning a bit more fun and engaging for kids:
- Pump the Tunes - Listening to upbeat music can help anyone at any age with making cleaning a bit more enjoyable. Dance breaks are encouraged. Singing cleanup songs can actually help children focus on simple tasks. Consider adding a cleanup song to your routine!
- Turn Cleaning Into A Game - How many pieces can we put away in 5 minutes? Can you vacuum the living room faster than you did last time? Breaking up cleaning into these small time chunks provides more opportunities to feel accomplished. This makes cleaning more enjoyable!
- Jr’s Cleaning Company, Inc - Get your little one a caddy with their own cleaning supplies. Natural cleansers, socks for cleaning floors, microfiber cloth for dusting, kid sized rubber glove, etc. You could even get a little apron or overalls with your child’s name. They can pretend to own a cleaning company, and you could play the customer.
- Expiration Date Detective - Have your child look for expired foods to clean out fridge and pantry. Let them choose a snack (non-expired, of course!) as a reward!
Using these methods to have your kids help with cleaning is a great way to teach them responsibility and instill good habits for the future, but there’s another benefit that’s much more short-term: Your house? It gets cleaned. And you have to do less and less of the work yourself as your kids get older and more capable. Eventually, you can just sit back, refreshing drink and/or snack in hand, while the kids take care of all of the Spring Cleaning themselves, freshening up the house without you having to lift a finger… That’s the dream anyway. Reality may differ slightly!
Let Them Choose
Letting your child have a say in how they are storing their things makes a huge difference. I let my daughter pick out her container to store her stuffed animals and she even choose a few other organizers for her art supplies and barbies. The fact that she got to make a choice about her room and storage made her feel like such a big kid, she was proud to use them and fill them with her belongings! Another easy way to make tidying easier for kids is to put it at their level. We use cubbies that are low along the floor so she can have easy access to toys and books. Some of the cubbies have light baskets or boxes so she can easily take out or put back the bins and carry them to wherever she is playing in the house. This helps when it come to clean up time too. Another fun thing is to create labels or use stickers to indicate what is stored in each box. What kid doesn’t love stickers? When it comes to kids clothes organization is a huge sticking point. Fortunately, there are many many options depending on your child’s messiness levels and space available. Cubbies are great for clothes if your child is better with folding or if your kiddo is still small and not able to reach hangers or higher dresser drawers. Keeping folded clothes in cubbies as opposed to drawers make it easier for children to see their favorite clothing items, which is important for the kids who are learning to pick out their own clothes and dressing themselves. I’m sure you know what it can be like when you pick out the wrong shirt for them! If you have a closet and if your kid doesn’t mind hanging up clothes (somehow mine LOVE to hang clothes up) that is a great way to store outfits so they are off the ground and visible. If your kiddo is still a toddler, consider having 2 rows of clothes by simply adding another tension rod in the middle of the closet. You can keep their most commonly worn or favorite outfits down below and fancier clothes, seasonal outfits, and clothes that don’t quite fit yet on top. Get a step stool so they can reach both rows of outfits! Having control over their choice of outfit can really make your child feel empowered.
Ways to Make Children Interested in Cleaning
Keep It Simple
One step commands can help prevent kids from being overwhelmed, confused, and distracted. Young kids don't really understand what "clean your room" means until you teach them. "Put all of your toys into the toy box," is a one step command that a child can understand. Once that is done, the child will feel a sense of accomplishment, and you can give them another one step command to do.
Monkey See, Monkey Do
It is also important to clean WITH your child. Sending them to another room to clean feels like a punishment, but if they are helping you clean it will feel like teamwork. This gives you an opportunity to demonstrate how to clean, give encouragement, prevent distraction, and share quality time together. Your child is learning by watching you, so try to keep a positive attitude, give gratitude for their efforts, and look for opportunities to learn and practice skills. Cleaning can give kids a sense of accomplishment, and make them feel like a valuable and contributing part of the family. Recleaning behind them undermines having your kids help with cleaning. Imagine working hard to learn a new skill, giving your best effort, and having your mentor completely redo your project. Talk about frustrating! If your child's attempt isn't living up to your standards (totally understandable) you can always demonstrate and give advice on how to improve.
Learning Step by Step
Some things, like making a bed, will slowly get better with time. You can start by teaching your child to put a blanket on the top and place pillows/stuffed animals. Eventually you can build on those tasks as their motor skills develop so that, in time, they can make the full bed. It will probably start out looking sloppy, but, with a little patience, your kid will be making the bed like a pro. Of course, if you know that you are super particular about streak free windows or crisply folded linens, some tasks are better left to you. Be aware of your expectations and your child's abilities; that way, everybody's happy!
Just Put It Under The Bed
If you have additional items to be stored that do not have to be visible or easily accessible, consider under-the-bed storage. There are so many different options! If you want easily accessible storage, look for drawers that can be pulled out. Many stores carry drawers with options of a cover or no cover, depending on what you are storing. This would be a great idea if your child “cleans their room” by stuffing all their things under the bed. The biggest hurdle with organizing for your child is getting them to take the reins when it comes to maintaining and organizing their own space. This is usually an ongoing struggle and learning process for both children and parents! Don’t shy away from talking with your child about where they keep their toys and how they keep their toys. Children love making decisions for themselves, so allow this organization journey to be an opportunity for them to make choices about their room and their belongings.
Contact our Experts at Modernistic
If your kid can operate a truck-mounted 50k hot water extraction machine capable of injecting 240-degree cleaning solution at 500 PSI and pulling 450 CFM, you probably don’t need Modernistic to clean your carpet. If they can’t, our expert technicians are more than happy to give you the absolute best Spring Cleaning possible! Call or click today.