In the kid world, spring is the season for Nikes and Gatorade, not Swiffer and Windex. If you are a parent of youngsters, you can get your kids used to mopping without moaning by following some of these tips.
Start early. Start when they are small, even as young as three or four. Housework is a new experience, an exciting first responsibility, so take advantage of this and start early. As they get older, your child will see housework not as a punishment but as a shared family duty.
Target your child’s special skills. Avoid the disappointment of being “too little” and designate chores that target your child’s special skills. Let him or her tidy tight spaces that are hard for you to reach, such as behind the couch or under the dining table. Let your child play expiration date detective when cleaning out the refrigerator. Choose child chores that involve his or her own things; for example, sorting through toys and clothes. This also encourages a sense of responsibility for his/her own possessions.
Integrate work and play. No matter how hard you try to convince your child, chores seems boring in comparison to sports and video games. So integrate work and play. Unleash little imaginations, and chores become part of a lifesaving mission. Older kids like to compete, so hold contests for fastest or best worker. Plan special activities for certain chores, say a closet cleaning family-wide fashion show to separate “keepers” from “non-keepers.”
Introduce an incentive. A resistant child needs a little push, so introduce an incentive and give your child something to work towards. Specific tasks can be paired with specific incentives. Clean out your pantry, then bake cookies using some of the ingredients you find. Tidy the bookshelf, then let your child choose a new book for the collection. Paste a sticker on a calendar for each completed task.
Make a good impression. All it takes is one bad memory of chore time to make a child forever detest cleaning, so make a good impression. Don’t force your child to sweep the kitchen floor when his or her favorite TV show is on. Instead, let your child help pick chore times. He or she will be happy to have a say, and you’ll be happy to have a helper who isn’t distracted or impatient. Also, remember that attitude is contagious. Show enthusiasm when you work, and your child will follow suit.
With these tips in mind, spring — or anytime — cleaning can be a much more enjoyable and bonding experience for the whole family.