Does anyone really love cleaning? Probably not many people. Sure, those fanatical people on TikTok with the perfect homes and the perfect smiles make everything look so darn perfect. But, hey, maybe they aren’t so fanatical. No, it is not fun to clean your house when the whole thing is overwhelming, and it must be done in a single giant task. This is much more frustrating and overwhelming when you have kids who have made enormous messes that they don’t clean. But it’s possible to teach your child to clean and not hate it too much.
Sometimes we say to ourselves, “Surely there must be a better way.” Guess what? Cleaning doesn’t have to be a monumental task that everyone dreads. There are ways to maintain a clean home while encouraging your kids’ involvement and helping them develop a love for cleaning. And we have some tips and tricks to make it easier for you when teaching your child to clean.
Try Not To Make It a Negative Experience
If teaching your child to clean involves nagging, complaining, and yelling, it won’t be a great experience for anyone. Instead of demanding our kids clean up, we can encourage them to do it with positive reinforcement. For example, if a child makes their bed in the morning without being reminded or clears their dishes before they are told, we can point it out and praise it. A simple “Thanks for helping out” or “Your bed looks so nice” is all it takes.
As adults, we like recognition for a job well done, and so do kids. We tend to continue that behavior if others are happy with our work. It’s the same for our littles. If they know it makes mom or dad smile when they clean up after themselves, they will probably be more likely to get into those habits.
Create an Incentive
Yes, the incentive for teaching your child to clean should be that you have a clean house, but it doesn’t work that way. Kids like to have something to work for, and a pat on the back won’t always cut it. So, we need to give them something at the end. Some parents use money, like an allowance, but that can be expensive, especially if you have multiple children. The good old days of a quarter for making your bed for a week are gone. Instead, think about extra screen time, which is always a winner. Or maybe something like earning a trip to the park or perhaps the zoo for two weeks of completed chores and cleaning tasks.
As parents, we aren’t earning incentives for laundry or dishes, but there is a similar reward. If our home is clean, we often have more freedom to do what we want without being stuck doing chores. That is undoubtedly an incentive for an adult. Instilling those habits in our kids when they’re young will hopefully create habits leading to a clean and organized environment.
Cleaning Shouldn’t Be a Punishment
We probably have all heard a time or two that we aren’t going anywhere until our room is clean. And if you remember those moments, you probably were a bit resentful of the whole experience. Should you teach your child to clean by encouraging them to keep their rooms clean? Yes. But should we stop the world if they don’t? No, probably not. Instead of throwing down ultimatums, try creating a chart or schedule that kids can keep. This can be done with apps, charts, magnets, or whatever works for your family.
Explaining to kids that they have X number of tasks to complete throughout the day can help keep them on track. Encouraging them to complete their chores and giving them a hand when necessary will help. This can also be something for siblings to do together. Many kids are competitive by nature, and if they have a brother or sister who also has things to do, they may be more likely to get their work done if their sibs are working too.
Make Sure Tasks Are Age-Appropriate
A child with cleaning tasks that are too tough for their age and size might not be able to complete them and may feel defeated and likely won’t want to try again. Asking a two-year-old to swap the laundry would be impossible, but having them put their dirty clothes in the basket is not. Ensure your chores are appropriate for their age and your expectations are not too high for the individual child when teaching your child to clean.
It is also a good idea to create benchmarks in the home of the expectations for children of different ages. Once they reach a certain age, they can take on more responsibilities to help out at home.
Set a Good Example
Do we always want to clean up after ourselves? No. It would be much easier to grab an iced coffee and binge-watch Netflix during the afternoon than do another darn load of laundry, but kids are always watching, and we need to show them the best ways to do things. The whole “do as I say, not as I do” stuff doesn’t work well. So, if we want their beds made, we must make our own.
But it would be best if you were realistic about teaching your children to clean. Homes with kids are messy and chaotic sometimes, and that is okay. If people are coming into your home to judge whether there are dishes in the sink or clean laundry that needs folding, they are the ones who need to get their priorities in line. Love your kids and help them develop good habits; the rest will fall into place. And remember, if their rooms are a total disaster, that’s what doors are for.