As we make our way into summer, I get a lot of questions about HOW to include kids in cleaning and decluttering. Not only does it teach responsibility but teaches them great life skills. I know that it can be difficult to know just the right way to teach these skills without feeling like you're nagging all the time and for the kids to feel like they’re contributing to the family. The goal for us is to instill a good work ethic, teach HOW to clean, and feel the satisfaction of a job well done.
Build habits, not clean rooms. Think about little habits that your kids can work on over time and build on. These little habits will lead to clean rooms – eventually. If you concentrate on the clean room, you’re missing out on the little habits. What we did was after a couple messy rooms, we did a big clean after school ended.
Here are the steps we followed: grab a rubbish bag and toss everything toss-able, wash sheets, gather dirty laundry and throw in the washer/dryer, tidy up the room, make bed, put away laundry, and vacuum. It took an hour and a half for us to work on this together but the room has stayed clean since! The Lego table is still full of projects and if you saw the other side of the room there’s a bookcase with collections and picture frames – these are things that he loves and wants to keep in the room. I love the little collections 🙂
Give them their own supplies. Putting kid-safe cleaning supplies in a caddy or a bucket gives them the tools they need to help you. This works for kids of all ages – having supplies at the ready makes it easier to grab and clean. A duster, simple cleaning solution (even just water for the youngest helpers works!), scrub, soap, a scrub brush are all simple and easy tools for cleaning.
Show don’t tell. This is something I’ve found to be super helpful when it comes to any task I’m trying to teach. If I take the time to show how to do something the end result I’m looking for comes much more quickly than if I just ’tell’ them how to do something. The showing, taking the time, and helping through the process is when the idea really sinks in. Depending on the age, it’s helpful to walk them through a task multiple times and I’ve found that checklists is helpful. Then it’s not me doing the telling, it’s the list that’s keeping them on task.
A visual checklist or step by step is helpful for younger kids whereas a checklist or chore chart might be helpful for older children that can read.
What have you found that works? Are your kids ready for more responsibility? I know mine is and we’re making this the summer of responsibility and follow through (for me) on getting things done!