Get Your Kids Excited to Clean the House with These Expert Tips
Experts reveal their top tips on how to get young ones to help out at home.
As you look around your house, maybe there is some clutter, a few dirty dishes, or laundry waiting to be folded, among other things. And you might be wishing your kids would lend a hand. Having your kids help around the house might sound like a near-impossible task, but it actually is doable. No, you shouldn't have your little one bleaching toilets, but they certainly can learn how to pick up their toys or sweep the floors. Plus, the sooner your kids learn how to tidy up, it will become second nature and you won't have to constantly ask them to help out. Here's what several parenting experts and organizing pros recommend for turning little ones into big helpers. (As a bonus, they might even have fun while getting organized.)
Make a Kid Kit
Having their tools boosts kids’ eagerness to pitch in. Stock a small broom and dustpan set ($15, Kohl's), sponges in fun colors ($10, Bed Bath & Beyond), and a spray bottle ($4, Target) of kid-friendly cleaner.
Editor's Tip: It’s super easy to make your own cleaner. Mix equal parts vinegar & water and a few drops of lemon essential oil.
Establish Family Contributions
Try this house mantra: Everyone contributes. "I like the term family contributions much better than chores because it reminds kids that they make a difference in your family," says Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions.
Play to Strengths
Whatever helpful task children show an interest in, such as wiping down the table after meals, throwing laundry down the chute, let them own it.
Build in a two-week training period to ensure they understand what a well-done job looks like. Sure, it’s extra work for you at first. But attentive supervision in the early days sets them up for future independence.
"Don’t ask your kiddos to pick up the playroom while you sit watching the news," says organizing expert Rachel Rosenthal at Rachel & Co. Even if you’re working in different rooms, cleaning at the same time reinforces the idea that getting these jobs done is a family goal, not a punishment.
The No-Nag Trick
McCready recommends meeting their "Can I" questions with a when-then phrase. Think: "When you put your plate away, then you may have screen time." Reserve your then for a regularly occurring privilege, not a reward or bribe.
Find the Fun
Mary Poppins was onto something: Find the fun, and snap! The job is now a game.
Clean Jams: Make a playlist, which should definitely include "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen. Or stream tunes curated by CLR.
Job Jar: Write out perennial tasks and have kids close their eyes and pick one. "My mom always snuck in a few games. Once we drew play Barbies right after make cookies," says home editor Katy Kiick Condon. "Best day ever."
Beat the Clock: Set the timer and pick up as much as possible before the buzz. Or see how fast kids can finish a project. Was that a new world record?