Spring cleaning can be a very stressful event when you have kids to look after. Not only do you have more dirt and clutter to deal with, you also have to keep the little ones occupied while you work.
But by involving the children in the annual spring clean, you can kill two birds with one stone. Not only do you get some much needed help, you get to occupy your children.
Here are seven ways you can coax your children into helping out with the cleaning event of the year.
1. Don’t make it a chore
The moment a child hears the word “chore” or “job” they can become defensive and difficult. Making cleaning fun is part of making sure this doesn’t happen, but you can also make things a little easier by taking your voice out of the process.
Rather than bark a list of instructions, write down the most important cleaning tasks on index cards, and distribute them evenly to your children. On each card, write a list of instructions for completing the job to your satisfaction. Once the job is complete, the card can go into a box — to be followed up when you have the time.
2. Don’t expect too much
There’s no way your 8-year-old will be able to clean and sanitise your refrigerator. Wherever possible, try to give the bigger, more complex jobs to the older children in your home. There’s plenty younger children can do, including tidying, polishing, vacuuming and removing dirt.
3. Reward and recognise
Never let an opportunity to praise a child for a job well done pass by. If you notice that a job has been performed to a high standard, offer your thanks — in front of their siblings wherever possible. You can also link completed jobs to small prizes, including sweets, movie time and late bedtimes. However, a compliment in front of others is often the biggest reward of all.
4. Make it a party
Kids generally hate cleaning with a passion, so it’s always a good idea to think of ways to make cleaning feel more fun. One way to do this is to have a cleaning party. Turn up the music, and play cleaning games. Have cleaning races, or play a cleaning talent game where you’re the judge. Set up a party table in advance, filled with food and party paraphernalia — which will act as a great incentive.
5. Be patient
The worst thing you can do when spring cleaning with your children is to hurry them or moan about how fast they’re working. You may need to accept that certain jobs are going to take longer than usual. If something isn’t done to your satisfaction, give the feedback in the most constructive way possible. Try to explain to the child the reason a job needs doing properly, and always look to give your explanations some real-world context.
6. Give your children their own cleaning supplies
By giving your child their own, brand new cleaning supplies, you’re empowering them to get on with the job in hand. Younger children might get excited at the prospect of receiving their own buckets, brushes and cloths, which means motivation won’t be an issue.
7. Have lots of breaks
The attention span of young children is very short, so don’t expect to preside over three-hour cleaning sessions. Instead, break cleaning into one-hour chunks — in between one-hour chunks of fun. Work an hour, play an hour… a great way to take the sting out of boring spring cleaning. Also, be ready with refreshments throughout the day, as you’ll need to keep spirits and energy levels high.
With the right approach, you can make spring cleaning a fun and rewarding experience for children of all ages.