When trying to encourage everyone to do their bit around the house, it can be especially challenging to get the little ones involved. However, cleaning tasks around the house don’t have to be reserved for the adults, as there are plenty of small but helpful ways in which children can contribute to the running of the house.
However, to get them involved, you’re going to have to make the prospect of completing cleaning chores more attractive by injecting some fun and competition into the task. To help you create positive cleaning habits around your home for your kids, we have compiled a list of top tips to make cleaning chores more fun for the whole family!
Make cleaning tasks into games and challenges
It is no secret that cleaning is a mundane task, so adding a little more fun into the mix is a great way to encourage cleaning tasks for your kids. We all lead busy lives, so integrating games and challenges into your cleaning routine doesn’t have to be a huge effort. It can be as simple as making the job into a race or singing along whilst doing the dishes. However, if the tasks are especially arduous and daunting and you have some spare time, you can set up a proper challenge for the kids to really get them involved!
If you are stuck for some inspiration, we have compiled a list of a couple of our favourite cleaning tasks here for you to try with your kids:
The Colour Game
A fun challenge where you ask the kids to begin tidying up items by colour. For example, ask them to collect and put away their toys and go through them in rainbow order. This is especially useful if you are trying to teach your children about the different colours.
Cleaning Bingo is a simple and easy way to get tasks done around the house, since it gives children a greater sense of achievement when they win something. All you need to do is print out or draw a bingo card of different tasks to complete or objects to put away and let your kids cross this off as they go along, with the quickest to fill their card being crowned the cleaning champion.
The Sorting Challenge
Similar to the colour game, this requires your children to sort all of their mess into categories. For example, clothes, pens, toy cars, rubbish and books might all be good categories. To make the job a bit quicker, try to align these categories with different destinations. For example, if all Lego goes in a separate box to toy cars, ask them to sort Lego from the toy cars for easy storage.
The Speed Clean
If there are a few children at home, the speed clean is a good way to make cleaning a bit more competitive. Either set a timer to see who can clean as much of their bedroom mess as possible before the timer runs out, or ask them to race to see who can complete their tidy task the quickest. One thing to remember is to make it fair because if it seems unachievable or unfair, children are less likely to get involved properly with the task.
Ensure tasks are easy and age-appropriate
One common error made when designating different cleaning chores to children is giving them tasks beyond their capabilities or that are too difficult to make enjoyable. For example, asking young children to clean the bathroom is inappropriate since they will be using unsuitable products for children and will likely not do a good job anyway, meaning you waste even more time going over their work.
Instead, consider opting for some more age-appropriate cleaning chores. Some ideas of this might be:
Toddlers (2-3 years)
Ask your toddlers to sort their washing into different colours, as this will encourage them to learn the different colours and organise their dirty clothes. You can also ask them to tidy up their toys after using them by putting them back where they found them.
Pre-schoolers (4-5 years)
Ask your little ones to take on slightly bigger, more independent tasks, such as making their bed as best they can without supervision or helping an older sibling or parent wash up after dinner.
Primary Schoolers (6-9 years)
Slightly older children will be able to use more difficult tools, so they might be able to sweep up the floor or mop it or clean their entire bedroom without help, for example.
Teenagers (10-15 years)
Teenagers can take on slightly more difficult tasks, like washing the car and the dishes or taking the rubbish out to load into the bins.
Young Adults (16+ years)
By the age your children are 16 or older, they aren’t really children at all anymore, so they can do more onerous tasks that you might expect from an adult, such as cleaning the bathroom or helping to deep clean the kitchen oven.
Explain tasks clearly and demonstrate how to complete them
Another important way to make cleaning chores more fun and memorable for the kids is by making them easier for the kids. This can be done in a few different ways to ensure that they know exactly how to do the task, what to use and what results to expect. For example, we recommend:
- Making and printing out diagrams of how to complete a task to use these to do the job themselves. For example, if you expect them to load the dishwasher, maybe make a diagram outlining what kind of utensils fit where, where to put the tablet in and how to turn it on.
- Make an effort to demonstrate how to complete tasks to your children when you have their full attention. Show them what to use, how to achieve the best results and what to expect to be reassured as they complete the task that they have it under control. If it is easier, ask them to watch you complete the task first so that they can do it next time.
- Find fun videos that are suitable for younger kids that explain to them how to complete cleaning tasks or even snippets from TV shows that teach them about how to tidy up their toys. Not only will this explain to them how to get the task done, but it will also encourage them since it is a more exciting way of explaining it.
Make realistic cleaning routines and set deadlines
Although you want cleaning chores to be fun, you also want them to get done. The best way of ensuring that deadlines are met for certain chores to keep your home in the best condition is to create a realistic routine of chores.
This is usually best done on a grid or table of some kind where chores are marked out for particular people on particular days and can be ticked off once done. Ticking off the chore will give children a sense of achievement but it will also keep everyone accountable for the individual responsibilities, since it is clear who has and hasn’t done their jobs.
If you want to make this seem more like a group effort than a set of jobs for the kids, add yourself and others in your home to the chore chart, since this gets everyone involved to achieve one big, main goal: keeping your home tidy!
When setting deadlines though, it is important to be realistic and account for everything else you have going on. For example, if you know your child has a certain after school club or a large amount of homework on a certain day, move the chore deadline to a more suitable and achievable day. Likewise, be patient and mindful when giving deadlines for chores, children are naturally weaker, smaller and more inexperienced in completing these jobs, so expect that they will naturally take longer to complete these jobs.
If you are overseeing your children as they complete their chores, don’t shy away! Get involved with the work they are doing or do other jobs elsewhere. It is a good idea to instil independence and trust in your children to get these jobs done and well, but constantly hovering over them and critiquing the way they are completing it will only cause it to take longer, or make them distracted!
Reward them for their good work
One of the most common and most successful methods of encouraging children to get cleaning chores done is to reward them. Many parents believe there has to be a financial award attached to this, like pocket money. However, it is more than sufficient to simply use words of praise, or stickers, or even time to spend on devices where time might otherwise be restricted.
One thing that you should avoid is criticising the job they have done if you know they have tried their best. For children, praise is the best encouragement, not criticism.
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