Saturday, September 10, 2011

Get the kids involved

There is no reason why a child two years or older can't help with cleaning up. You can't expect too much from them, but they can help with small things. I actually ask my 2.5 year old son to do one of the chores that I dislike the most; dusting. HE LOVES IT! I give him the microfiber duster and he walks around the living room and dusts the TV table and side table, window sills, the fireplace, even the floor... which is not necessary, but it keeps him busy, so have at it!

One of our dog's is obsessed with shredding up paper and paper towels. I dread having to pick up all of those little scraps of paper. They are too big for the vacuum cleaner, but the scraps are on the carpet so I can't just sweep it up. My son loves picking up all the little pieces and throwing them in the trash. It may take him a lot longer than it would take me, but in my eyes, SO WHAT!? He is helping Mama clean and he is keeping himself busy. And he is also learning to clean.

Children this age can also be taught to clean up after themselves.  Since my son has been about a year old, I have tried to involve him in cleaning up his toys. Making it fun, singing the "Clean up Song" and dancing around, so he thinks of it as a game. When he is finished with a snack, he throws any wrappers in the trash and bowls or cups in the sink. These small things are VERY helpful.  Him cleaning up after himself, leaves less work for Mama.  Sometimes he loses his mind (haha!) and will throw his trash on the floor, but I kindly remind him to pick it up and ask him where it is supposed to go.  He picks it up with no problem and says "trash" and proceeds to the kitchen trash barrel.  Cleaning up toys is usually pretty stress free.  I've tried to teach him to put one thing away before taking out another.  But that does not always happen.  Toys like legos and puzzles are the worst (clean up wise) and there are times when he asks us to help him clean up and we are totally fine with that. Once we toss a couple pieces in the bin, he usually just takes over and finishes.

In his bedroom, there is no clutter.  We rotate toys on a regular basis, if we see that he is not interested in a particular toy for a period of time we will put it away (out of his room).  Once he has outgrown a toy or clothes/shoes, they are donated.  Why have them taking up space.  I take inventory of his stuff usually once every three months.  He has this organization shelving system from Ikea, and I found pics of his toys online and printed them on sticker labels and put them on the drawers. And he almost immediately grasped the concept of putting the toys back in the drawer with the right picture on it. And he always knows where to look for whatever toy he wants to play with. I hung these baskets on his wall and put all of his crayons in one, markers in another and magnetic letters and numbers in a third. I mounted these little containers on the wall above the baskets. One houses all of his chalk, another has his hair brush and lotion, one I designated for found toy/game pieces.  The next time we play with that toy or game I collect the missing piece(s) and put them back in the box it belongs to.  I also hung some of these hooks around his room at his height so he can hang his towel, robe and hoodies "like a big boy".  I also hung one in the bathroom to hang his potty seat on.  He gets the seat when he has to "go" and he replaces it when he is finished... most of the time.

The idea here is that everything has a place and that the child is learning to be organized. When you put things away where they belong there is no problem finding it when you want or need it later.

Do NOT give children any "chores" that are going to stress you out.  For example, I refuse to let the boy wash dishes right now.  NO WAY!  The two times I have let him play in the sink there has been a tsunami to clean up afterward.  He may have had fun, but making another chore for Mama is not helping me.  And let's be honest, can a small child really clean dishes?  Of course not.  I knew that.  I just thought letting him play "wash the dishes" would give him some practice and honestly, just keep him out of my hair for 20 minutes so I could do some cleaning up.  This will NEVER happen again until he is pushing double digits.

If you don't already have your children involved with helping out around the house, what are you waiting for?

Here are my tips:

  • First, if you have a bad attitude about cleaning, so will your children.  If you walk around hemming and hawing about cleaning then your children will never want to clean either.  If you don't clean, your kids will have no positive example to follow.  If this is you.  CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE.
  • Children should be supervised, I hope that goes without saying.
  • Never give children cleaning products.  Even my now beloved vinegar will burn eyes if it gets in them.  But other cleaners can be fatal if ingested.
  • Never give them a bucket of water, children can drown in the smallest amount of water. 
  • Give them small tasks that are quick and easy so they can stay focused on it for the small amount of time their short attention spans allow.  
  • When they are playing, teach them to put away the toy they are no longer playing with before taking out another.
  • Don't punish children for not cleaning up.  Explain why it is helpful if they do.  Also explain that when they put their items away where they belong it will be easy to find them later.
  • If they ask for help, help them.  I've found that my son will do most of the work if I just squat next to him and chuck a couple toys in the bin every now and then.
  • Eliminate clutter
  • Teach your kids that there are children less fortunate than they are.  Explain that when they donate their toys they are making other little boys and girls happy.  
  • Toss younger kids toys while they are sleeping or away from home.  Trust me, if your child sees you tossing their toys in a trash bag, they will most likely have a fit.  Even if it is a toy they have ignored for 6 months.
  • If your children are older and really resistant to letting go of some toys/games, maybe offer to buy them ONE new toy or game for every five or ten that they part with.  I know some would disagree and say that is bribery.  But if it works and keeps the peace is there anything really so wrong with that?  You will most likely be buying them that toy in the near future anyway.
  • Praise them for their hard work.  Kids love and need to be encouraged with positivity.  When my son sees me cleaning sometimes he will tell me "Goot job, Mama!" or "AWE-TUM" (Awesome) and it always makes me smile. So imagine how good it makes your child feel when you tell them. :)  Not to mention you are boosting their vocabulary.  My 2.5 yo says words like, fantastic, beautiful and amazing.  In his own cute little pre-school pronounciation of course.  But he has learned all of these words from our constant praising of his achievements.
  • Buy them a mini set of cleaning tools, ie. broom, dustpan and dry mop.  Most kids like to emulate what they see their parents do.  So having their own set of tools just like Mom and Dad's will hopefully inspire them to clean like Mom and Dad.
  • Make them believe that cleaning is fun.  Sing the "Clean up" song. 
  • Remember you are the parent, it is your responsibility to do the cleaning.  Do NOT pawn your household chores off on your children.  What you should be aiming for is teaching your children how to clean up after themselves.  If they enjoy doing some other safe chores, ASK them to help you.  When they are older, I'd say 9-10'ish, then you can assign real chores.  Like taking out the trash, sweeping, washing dishes, teaching them to do (supervised) laundry, etc.
These are just my tips.  All children are different and you know your child best, so use or adjust these tips as you see fit to help your child become more organized and learn responsibility.  Good luck!

Thanks for stopping by!

No comments:

Post a Comment