My son constantly wants to help me clean. He even has his own spray bottle filled with “cleaner”, which is really just water. At four years old, he doesn’t let an opportunity pass while I am cleaning to ask if he can help. It’s pretty spectacular, and also not always to norm.
While some kids were just born with the innate need to be tidy, organized and clean, there is also certain level of nature and nurture going on. We can be taught to enjoy things, or at the very least tolerate them and house cleaning is no different.
In my business, I come across moms all the time who ask, “But how can I get my kids to do their chores. It is always such a process and I feel like I am nagging them.” The answer, for the most part, lies within the question. The nagging will get you very little in the long run.
Remind and equip. Equip and remind. It is a circle, a process that will continue until the days when they leave for college, or for their first internship, or to galavant across the world to find themselves. We have to remind our children of what needs to be done and equip them with the skills and tools to do it. Whether it is brushing their teeth, combing their hair, changing their underwear, finishing their homework or completing their chores, children need to be reminded to do things and also equip them with what they need to get it done. We can’t tell them to brush their teeth once, without showing them or giving them the proper toothbrush and expect a thumbs-up at their first dentist visit. Children are tiny, beautiful little sponges absorbing everything around them. Sometimes, they just need a nudge.
Lead by example: If you live in a messy house, your children with ultimately learn to leave in a messy house. It’s as simple as that. Now, this doesn’t mean that the only way to get your children to clean their own rooms and spaces is to live in an immaculate home. This isn’t about perfection, but it is about modeling. If you model that when you make a mess, you clean it up, they will learn.
Teach them: This seems obvious, but it isn’t. We don't expect our kiddos to know how to do things like tie their shoes or ride a bike without being taught first, but somehow we have the expectation that they will just pick up on how to complete household chores without much effort on our part. No ma'am.
Set up reminders: This could be in the form of a chore chart, a chore wheel or a checklist. There are so many ways to do this. Gentle reminders, whether verbal, written or in writing can really help your kiddos to do what needs to be done without reminders. If you need help figuring out how to design your chart, check out one of my video posts about how to create your own printable with Canva here.
Create systems and routines that set them up for success: Maybe they have the same chores every morning or evening, or every Tuesday and Thursday. Systems are just a way that things get done the same way each time. Children thrive on routines if you spend enough time establishing them. If your son knows that the garbage needs to be taken out every Thursday, set up a routine to put it out Wednesday. After a few times forgetting (and having to wake up at 5am to put it out Thursday morning) he will remember to stick to the routine. This works well with those reminders from up above. Kids won't remember to do everything, all the time. Adults needs reminders, too so don't be too expecting of perfection.
Use timers: I don't know that there are many problems in my life that timers don't solve. My kids love timers. It also helps give an end to the task that when you are young, can seem endless. Heck, household chores can seem endless when you're 33. Timers can also help with dawdling. "These toys need to be cleaned up in 20 minutes." It is really easy for kids to grumble and dilly-dally if there is no end time in sight. Make it a game. Make it fun.
Avoid using chores as a punishment. There is one aspect of chore setting that I am a pretty firm believer in. I don’t use chores as a punishment. In my experience, this sets children up to believe that cleaning is a negative aspect of life and should only be done under duress. How many people, perhaps yourself included, do you know that hate cleaning as adults because they were forced to do it when they were kids after being bad. I don’t give chores or tasks as punishment. They are not a form of discipline. Rather, chores in our house are a regular part of being in a family. We act as a community, where each person contributes
Your ready to hand off some of the chores to your kiddos and you're trying to decide what to do with all that extra time. But how do you even know where to start with dishing out cleaning tasks? Download your free Everything and the Kitchen Sink cleaning list in the Vault and take the confusion out of what needs to be cleaned and when. Print an extra copy to give to your newly hired professional cleaner so everyone is on the same page.