A.K.A. Tips for Involving the Kids in Spring Cleaning
It’s that wonderful in-between time of the year as the seasons change from winter to summer. Not only is the sighting of the first little flower or blossom among all the brown winter humus, or perhaps a cheerful, colorful little bud peeking above the last layer of snow a discovery that deserves a prize, the anticipation of summer with sunny days, time off from school, playing outside or perhaps even a seaside holiday is enough for you to face the last couple of cold snaps and overcast days.
Spring-Cleaning Doesn’t Have to be a Chore
Especially after the last couple of years with lockdowns in place and families staying indoors for extended periods of time, 2022’s spring-cleaning efforts will probably be more extensive than usual.
We think you’ll agree that most kids don’t consider cleaning a fun activity and may need some coaxing or downright commanding to clean and do chores. Since most households will be engaging in a top-to-bottom, inside-out spring scrubbing session soon, we here at Monkey Bunks thought it would be appropriate to put together some ideas to take the moaning and whining out of the spring-cleaning equation.
Make it a Family Activity—and let Nobody off the Hook!
A great way to change a child’s idea about the nature of the activity is to involve them in the planning of it. Sit everyone down and start making a list of what needs to be done, encouraging kids to come up with their own suggestions. Whether your kids can read yet or not, you can make a fun chart with a picture of the cleaning activity that must be done and write down what it is.
For kids just starting out with learning to read, this can help them associate the illustration with the words. It is important to demonstrate the message to “do as I do, and not just as I say” by keeping busy yourself and visibly expressing a sense of pleasure each time you tick something of your list.
Set Deadlines and Stick to Them
Most young children won’t be able to understand a deadline written in a date format, so a good idea would be to grab a full-page calendar of the week and adding the chores that must be done on each day.
You can put the planning schedule next to the calendar with a sharpie, and as each child completes a chore, they can cross it off the chart and the calendar—fostering that satisfying feeling of accomplishment that even adults get when crossing something off a to-do list!
Show them How and which Cleaning Materials to Use
You can take a couple of minutes on each of the spring-cleaning days to show your child how to complete his or her chore. Start packing up some toys into the toy box and ask them to complete the task, show them how to sweep a small section of the floor and let them carry on by themselves.
Emphasize the Idea that Cleaning Regularly Lessens the Workload in the Long Run
It’s a great idea to start involving children in keeping their rooms—and the rest of the house—tidy from a young age. Emphasize that cleaning and tidying is something everyone in the family can and must do, not just the grown-ups.
This is a valuable habit for children to learn early on, to clean as you go, that will serve them well into adulthood and foster a sense of independence and capability in them.
Keeping your home in good order will most likely teach your child to appreciate and enjoy clean and tidy spaces, allowing them to learn that nobody likes to walk into, or live in, a messy, chaotic space.
Keep the Tasks you Assign to Things Your Child can Actually Accomplish
Don’t expect your child to sweep and mop the entire house, or to clean the whole bathroom all by themselves.
Break tasks into bit-sized chunks, such as sweeping and mopping their own bedroom on one day, packing any crockery or cutlery that they’ve used into the dishwasher immediately, or washing the sink and wiping the mirrors in the bathroom as a complete chore.
It can then be a short bout of cleaning that they can accomplish, one that doesn’t overwhelm them with a huge and daunting task, and allows them to go tick off a completed activity on the chart and calendar at regular intervals, keeping the momentum of the feeling of accomplishment going.
Don’t be Overly Critical
Remember that many of these tasks will not result in a picture-perfect result, with shining counter tops, streak-free mirrors, or spotless floors. Remember that praising a child for what they’ve done is more important than demanding perfection. It’s the fact that your child made the effort to pitch in and help out that is the goal here.
Make a bit of a fuss about how well they did a chore, and then perhaps give some tips on how to address the bits they missed. However, don’t just take over to fix the spots that were missed, thereby conveying to your child that they didn’t do it well enough and taking away the sense of agency and ownership of the chore from them. Making them feel that a particular task is theirs to do, and that the pleasant results from it belong to them, can go a long way to building their confidence and sense of accomplishment.
Include a Small Treat at the End of the Day
Putting a carrot at the end of the stick can go a long way to getting the chores done. Ask your child what they would like as a treat for finishing a particular task—within reason of course—and then do it, no chickening out! If they ask that you cook their favorite meal that evening, then do that.
If they ask for their favorite snack, allow that. If they ask that you take them to go do something they’ve been wanting to go do for a while, make a firm commitment to do it the next chance you get, and stick to that commitment. Children learn very quickly whether their parents follow through on promises, warnings, or requests. Follow through on your promises, as much as you possibly can, and they will soon get the message that you are a person who does what you say you will do and keeps your promises. This is one of the easiest ways to earn your child’s respect.