Make Cleaning with Kids Fun: Get Everyone Involved!
By Dakota Murphey
“Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.”- Phyllis Diller
Whether you’re a single parent, a dazzling duo of cleaners or an elderly auntie with a few young toddlers to babysit, cleaning the house can be a real nightmare with young children around. Like eating vegetables and washing hands properly, teaching children how to clean up after themselves (and clean properly) can be a real chore. But the trick is, not to treat it as such. Children will respond more positively if you make cleaning fun. Here are some ways to get the kids involved in helping you keep your home clean.
“In every job that must be done there is an element of fun” – Mary Poppins
Turning the activity into a game or even a friendly competition can make your children more excited about the prospect of cleaning. For example, ‘see who can pair the most socks’ becomes a challenge, and helps children with coordination. Bear in mind that making the activity into a race won’t work for things like washing up or dusting, because kids—especially younger kids—will get too excited and will probably skip things. It’s not fun if you have to go back over everything again!
“Music is the strongest form of magic.” - Marilyn Manson
Adding a bit of music to cleaning always brightens up the activity. There’s something strangely satisfying about dancing haphazardly through the house with a vacuum cord trailing behind you. Adding music or a theme tune to help the kids clean up will make the time pass quicker, and if the tempo fits the activity, they’ll get even more involved.
Be patient and be specific
Kids get confused easily, especially younger children. They don’t have particularly good ideas about specifics, so when you say ‘clean your room’ to a small child, that could mean any number of things. Just think about making a bed for example, to make your bed you need to :
• Fluff the pillows
• Pull the quilt straight
• Set it squarely on the bed
• Pull the quilt up over the pillows (or folded down at the neck of the bed)
• Tuck the quilt in around the sides
Not so simple for a child, unless you break it down. Giving kids simple instructions like, ‘put the toys in this box’ or ‘put the green clothes in this corner and the red ones in this corner’ are less likely to confuse and frustrate them.
Children love to be praised. If you make a big effort to thank each and every one for all their hard work, they are more likely to make an effort the next time. If you also pretend that you ‘couldn’t do the cleaning without their help’ it gives them a sense of importance and they will take pride in helping you out.
It can take children a little while to get the hang of helping in the house, but making it fun and exciting will soon get the kids involved and it’ll definitely lighten your load! Now if only that was true of the ironing...
This article was written by Dakota Murphey, mum of two by day, independent content writer by night, working alongside “Harmony at Home”.