Getting your kids to help you clean your place shouldn’t be one of the biggest challenges you face when it comes to household chores. Your kids may be busy with homework, extracurricular activities in school or distracted by social media and gadgets, but cleaning should be part of their daily routines. Though you don’t want to overschedule your kids, or turn cleaning into a punishment, getting your kids to help out around the house is necessary when they grow up, with a positive impact throughout their life.
Raising Children states that household chores, suitable to their development level, help children learn essential skills and feel good about contributing to family life. Being involved in duties also gives children experience of relationship skills like communicating clearly, negotiating, cooperating and working as a team. This early experience can help instil positive habits for healthy living. So if you're struggling in getting your kids to help do chores at home, here are some tips and tricks.
Communicate with your kids and involve them in planning
Listen and give your kids clear choices about tasks. Ask them what chores they’re interested in doing (age-appropriate), or which room they will clean and when? You can write down who agreed to do each specific task to avoid such misunderstandings later in the day.
Communicate and consider your kids’ availability. Most of the activities are done in the morning, so everyone needs to be clear on when exactly cleaning will take place. Here are some ideas of chores for children of different ages to guide them in choosing the task and have realistic expectations of what they can accomplish.
Toddlers (2-3 years)
- Pick up toys and books.
- Put clothes on clothes hooks.
- Set placemats on the dinner table.
Preschoolers (4-5 years)
- Set the table for meals.
- Help with preparing meals, under supervision.
- Help put clean clothes into piles for each family member, ready to fold.
- Help with grocery shopping and putting away groceries.
School-age children (6-11 years)
- Water the garden and indoor plants.
- Feed pets.
- Help with hanging out clothes and folding washing.
- Take out the rubbish.
- Help with choosing meals and shopping.
- Help with meal preparation and serving, under supervision.
- Vacuum or sweep floors.
- Clean the bathroom sink, wipe down kitchen benches, or mop floors.
- Put away crockery and cutlery.
Teenagers (12-18 years)
- Teenagers can do the chores they did when they were younger, but now responsible for doing them independently.
- Teenagers can also take on more complicated chores. For example, teenagers could do the laundry, clean the bathroom and toilet, prepare meals, stack the dishwasher or mow the lawn.
- When choosing chores for teenagers, think of the skills you’d like them to learn.
Have some cleaning games
Try dress up and play
Your child can be a doctor and help around in healing the house from the garbage, or they could be a police officer who’s here to arrest all the toys that have spread across the house and put them in the ‘prison’ (toy cupboard or storage). Your daughter could also be a fairy who’s going to use her magic broom to sweep the house completely clean. Let your child take on the role of any person they wish.
Do a scavenger hunt
Everyone will be all around the house, and it’s best to hide some treasures/tokens for your kids. Prepare in advance by hiding candies or tiny gifts in specific areas of the house. Let your kids know that while they’re cleaning there are treasures around the house. Tie this up with clues which they can get from you once they complete a specific task.
Make cleaning fun with music
Cleaning up is so much easier when you have music in the background. The music beat improves your mood and motivates you to finish your tasks faster. You can dance, sing, or do both.
Playing your kids’ favourite song while cleaning will make them forget about pressure and can help release stress. The motivation here is to finish your task faster (while enjoying it) so that you can have more time to rest.
Show appreciation and give them advice for improvement
Just like adults, kids want to hear they’ve completed a task well and feel appreciated. When they have finished cleaning a room or a specific task, tell them what they’ve done well. Try to be supportive and encouraging even if your kid’s work isn't done precisely to your expectations.
Thank them for their effort and cooperation. Save any feedback (if there’s any) on what could have been done better as a secondary comment and make it sound more like a tip to learn. You can practice the task together next time and offer helpful hints for a more successful result.
Use a Reward System
Integrate a reward system in their tasks. Put a chart or a checklist on your wall or board with each child’s name on it, with their chores listed next to their names. If they’ve done it, they’ll get a checkmark. When they get checkmarks, they get a reward.
Rewards could be food, small gifts, or screen time. You can also give kids a fun playdate at the park or a friend’s house as a reward for doing chores around the house. The prize has to be something that they like. You know your kids the best - any rewards should be something meaningful to them.
Use tools that are fun and easy to operate
Many cleaning tools are smart enough to help humans accomplish tasks efficiently, and science has given us so many labour-saving inventions. And for kids to enjoy helping with chores, use cleaning tools that are fun, easy to operate and safe for them.
- Cartoon character microfiber cloth
Simple dusting could be boring. Microfiber cloths are eco-friendly, effective and efficient. The soft microfiber "quills" safely pick up dust and dirt from different surfaces. Find cute and colourful microfiber cloths that kids would love to use.
There is no need for lengthy and challenging instructions on how to use this one. Squeegees are easy to use and handle. Remove soap scum, limescale, and other buildups.
- Laundry helper “dirty dunk basketball hamper”
A modern and kiddie take on the classic over-the-door laundry basket that turns a dull chore into a fun challenge. It encourages kids to play their way to a cleaner room.
- Sponge helper “boon mini brush”
This cheerful scrubber is a perfect first sponge for your little helper. It’s suitable for easy-to-clean items; they can wash the dishes in the kitchen sink or in a separate basin (for little ones) and give you a break from the endless chore.
Now, use this toy for cleaning. Slime is useful to clean out the hard to reach areas including keyboards, buttons of your remote controls, and more! However, make sure that your kid’s age is appropriate to use this cleaning tool to avoid accidents.
- Robot window cleaner
Use a robot window cleaner. Let your kids simply tap its power button, and it'll start to work its way across your windowpane. It’s easy to operate just like when your kids are playing remote control toys.
- Robot vacuums
Robot vacuums don't need manual operation. Your kids can efficiently operate this tool as it works and cleans independently. All they need to do is set your robot vacuum’s speed and mode to clean around your home. After completing a task, the vacuum will immediately return to its docking station and recharge itself.
“Plenty of encouragement keeps children interested in helping. Get kids to help clean your house so they’ll be responsible as they grow”
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