Like a great comedian once said; cleaning the house while your kids are still growing up and being little ones, is like shoveling the driveway before it stops snowing.” That’s a pretty funny quote by Phyllis Diller, but as a parent, you should know that while it can be difficult to clean with kids and stay organized, it’s not impossible. With a little planning and some tips like the ones below, this is going to make things a little easier.
Start Young and Be The Leader
If there’s one thing you know about kids, it’s that starting them young with anything, will always be more beneficial than to wait until they get older. Instill cleanliness, organization, and responsibility sooner, rather than later. Parents also know that kids lead by example. If you start to pick up toys, chances are they will see you doing this, and also start to pick up their toys.
Find Tasks That They Can Do
Of course, a 3-year-old isn’t capable and shouldn’t be doing hard housework! But, they can do things like putting their toys away, putting their place mats back where they belong, pushing their chair back in under the table, etc. As they get older, you can start teaching them how to do more things.
Kids, at certain ages, don’t have the dexterity or the coordination that adults do. Make sure that you remember, they are kids, and so you might not want to expect perfection at first. Also, make sure that you are openly proud of your kids when they start to help around the house. Something as simple as pulling the sheet to the top of the bed is a good start.
Give Specific Directions
If you tell a 6-year-old to clean their room, well, this can be a pretty overwhelming statement to them. But, if you tell them to put their legs away in the container they belong in, they will have a more direct instruction on what to do that is clearly understood.
Using visuals for things like cubby holes and baskets/boxes is a great way to teach your kids what goes where. So for something like building blocks, you can take a container of your choice and place the word Blocks on the box and also a picture of blocks. You’re really killing two birds with one stone here. On one hand, you are visually showing them what goes where, and over time they will begin to read that word on the container and learn it!
Set Limits on What Toys Are Out
A lot of parents have this sort of rule. It’s a way to keep the toys under control and in turn, make putting them away easier because you have to deal with less mess. The rule could be something like; you can only plan with one toy at a time, if you want to play with another one, you have to first put the other one away. Another way to keep toys in control is to keep everything in a chest or a cloth basket or box. Preferably one with a lid.
Work, Then Play!
Another good idea is to motivate your kids like turn on a song while you clean with your child. The challenge may be to clean up a specific toy or task before the song is up. If you get the task done before the song is over, you can dance to the next song. It introduces a goal, a reward, and of course fun! You don’t just have to do this with music, you can do it with anything. Older kids can even be included in task and reward goals.
Less Is More… Sometimes
If you find that your kids are helping, you have a schedule for cleaning and you are still not keeping a tidy house, maybe it’s time to start looking at all the things the kids (and you) have accumulated. It’s really tempting to just buy everything your kids want and that you want for that matter, but it’s important that you realize that sometimes less is more. Instead of having a playroom filled to the brim with toys, most of which they don’t even play with, or you having a closet filled with clothes you don’t even wear or fit into anymore, consider downsizing. There are lots of different organizations that would love to have clothes for kids and adults, toys and more. Not only will you be getting rid of the stuff you really don’t need and in turn keeping a tidier house, but you’ll also be helping people and children that really need help!