Oftentimes, parents underestimate the degree to which children can be helpful in cleaning up around the house – or at least in avoiding the accumulation of messes. While it may seem difficult, if not impossible, to get your kids to do a bare minimum of the necessary weekly cleaning, there are some approaches that parenting coaches and family therapists recommend trying in order to teach children responsibility while helping to keep your sanity – and free time! Just think about it – make use of those little hands for 15 minutes a day and you could save valuable time, in the long run.
Clearly outline the new rules. Don’t we know it – kids love to push the boundaries! If your children are always looking for loopholes in the rules, they may make great lawyers one day…but for now, it can be frustrating to try to establish new rules. If your children are old enough (think 9-12), try printing a written “contract” with rules such as “I will put any devices/clothing away before I get another one out” or “I will rinse my dishes each night” – whatever the points of contention. Then have your children sign it – this “grown-up” act can help establish the importance fulfilling the promises they made to you to clean up after themselves.
Don’t cave to cleaning up messes. This may drive you crazy for a little while, but rather than just picking up a young child’s toys, kindly remind your son or daughter if they forget to do so themselves. Cleaning up messes after requesting a child do so on their own will set a bad precedent; rather, hear out their complaints and acknowledge that you understand that he or she would prefer not to clean. When children feel heard, they may be less likely to resist completing a task.
Make cleaning fun. Sounds impossible, right? It’s as easy as turning on music! If you and your child share a love of a certain type of music, or if you know what type your child likes, put it on and challenge your child to complete a task before a song is over.
Divvy up smaller parts of a larger chore. If you have more than one child, try assigning them to work in teams to complete a task, allowing each to focus on completing their part of the chore to the best of their ability, rather than attempting what may seem to be an overwhelming task. If your children prefer one aspect of the task to another, allow them to switch every few minutes so as to prevent arguing or bad blood.
Start them early. If children see themselves as part of the ebb and flow of a household from an early age, they will not be surprised when they are asked to contribute increasingly to household tasks as they grow older. Even just including toddlers in your routine (without expecting much, of course) can help them learn to see cleaning as simply a part of a daily routine, and not necessarily an activity to be avoided.
As one of the premier providers of residential and commercial janitorial service in Philadelphia, PA, we know cleaning – and as parents ourselves, we’re familiar with the struggles of getting a little help around the house! Give us a call to learn more about how we can help you to lessen stress and improve your overall peace of mind.