One of the most frequent questions I get is “How do you get your kids to help clean?” Short on the heels of that question is “How do you get kids to do a good job when cleaning?” Now, my kids aren’t the best cleaning helpers EVER, but they do help and they normally do a pretty good job. I’ve employed some strategies my mother used with us, and I’ve also picked up some strategies over the years. Today, darling Home Eccers, I share them with you.
Start young. The younger kids are, the more they will want to help. If you wait til your kids are fairly old before you try to get them to help clean, they won’t be as interested. The hard part of having very young kids help is that their skills aren’t always up to par, so you have to be exceedingly patient. Keep in mind the skill sets of your kid’s age group and things will be easier.
Make it fun. You can often turn cleaning into a game. “How many toys can you pick up before the clock dings?” Etc, etc.
Give step by step, clear instructions. Especially when they’re young, sending a kid into a room and telling them to clean it is overwhelming. Try “Pick up all the laundry. Good, now pick up all the trash.” Etc, etc.
Not helping is not an option. Once kids have passed a certain age, they tend to get a bit lazy and don’t want to help. They’ll try every argument in the book to try to get you to acquiesce and let them not clean, but be clear with them. In a family, we help. Everyone does their part.
Don’t get frustrated with the crappy job they do and do it yourself. My brother is 30 years old and still lives with my parents. Yet, my practically elderly father (he’s going to kill me when he reads this, haha) is the one that still mows the lawn. Why would the old man have to mow when the young man is there? Because my brother’s figured out how to get my dad so frustrated he just does the job himself. My brother is kind of an extreme example, but just keep that in mind. Do you want to still be mowing your lawn when you’re an old man/lady because you never forced your kid to mow the lawn the right way?
Speaking of that, check the job they did and then retrain them as necessary. If your kid did a bad job on something they were supposed to do, try to figure out if they did a bad job because they didn’t know any better, or because they’re slacking. If they didn’t know any better, show them again what to do, and show them how they can improve. If they’re just slacking, raise heck.
I know you want to be a nice mom, but raise heck when necessary. A boot in the butt is sometimes something you have to do.
Be a good example yourself (and make sure your spouse is being a good example, too.) If you are lazy about putting your clothes in the hamper, how can you expect your children to do the right thing? Talk to your spouse if they’re lazy about cleaning up after themselves. Impress upon them that you’re trying to raise productive citizens here, and you need them to do their part.
Train your kids on all aspects of keeping a home. Especially things that you might not think of, like budgeting and grocery shopping. My dad’s an accountant, so one would think I had been trained in how to do a budget. One would be wrong. (My dad is REALLY going to kill me now. Sorry, dad. I still love you!) Dad’s financial advice when I left the nest was basically “Don’t bounce checks. Good luck, kid.” Not helpful, Dad.
OK, Home Eccers, it’s your turn. What are your strategies on getting the kids to help clean and do a good job?