How to Cleaning House with Children around?
I am a big believer in involving young children in household chores (that are suitable to their level of development) as I believe that these early experiences can help to instill positive habits for healthy living for many years to come. And toddlers and preschoolers make fabulously willing cleaning helpers when you make the cleaning experience fun!
Here are four ways to make cleaning time fun…
- Make it a game: Adding a playful element like seeing who can match the greatest number of sock pairs or having a race to see who finishes their respective packing away chore quickest, helps to make cleaning and packing away interesting and engaging for young children.
- Give your child fun tools to use: We have a cabinet with long glass shelves which Immy loves to dust. She carefully removes all of the photos and other trinkets displayed and then comes her favorite part of the task – spraying water on the shelves with a small spray bottle! She then wipes the shelves clean with a cleaning cloth. The simple act of giving her a spray bottle of water makes the task great fun. I know other children who love the novelty of using the vacuum like a grown-up or sweeping the floor with a short-handled broom.
- Add music or singing to your cleaning tasks: Turn up the volume on some catchy music or sing a simple song like, “This is the way we mop the floor, mop the floor, mop the floor,” which can be adapted to almost any cleaning task.
- Use a timer: Set an old fashioned kitchen timer for three minutes and set a simple cleaning challenge for your preschooler.
What sorts of tasks can young children do?
I think children from the age of two can be involved in any of the following tasks, with varying levels of assistance and supervision depending upon their age;
- Putting dirty laundry into a hamper
- Folding laundry: Folding small items like tea towels, matching socks or even finding separating all of their own underwear from a big pile helps to reduce the time you need to spend with the laundry.
- Putting away laundry: Make it easy for your child to put away their own clothes by making it clear which drawer is for which type of item of clothing and not having too many clothes in each drawer.
- Unpacking the dishwasher
- Tidying up toys: Separating toys into their own containers and labeling the containers can make packing away toys easier for young children.
- Sweeping up the mess: Spending a little time teaching your child how to use a dustpan and brush now can save lots of time in the days to come.
- Cleaning up spills: Keep a basket or drawer in the kitchen (which is easy for your child to access independently) for cleaning cloths that can be used for wiping up drink spills. A small spray bottle of water kept nearby might be useful as well.
- Setting and clearing the table: At three years of age, Immy has been setting our table for some months now. And older toddlers and preschoolers can help to clear the table of dishes and condiments as well.
- Cleaning in the bathroom: Wiping down sinks and counters, scrubbing the ring around the bath and cleaning the shower screen are all tasks that young children can help with.
Some final advice for keeping your child engaged and involved in household cleaning tasks are;
- Be consistent about your expectation that they will help.
- Work alongside them. Children are more likely to be involved if you are too.
- Keep tasks as independent as possible for your child and resist the urge to do over what they have done (yes, you may have to let go of standards just a little!)
- Rotate chores to keep it interesting.
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