Getting Kids to Help Out Around the House
So, the kids are home for the summer, and you might have noticed that with the extra little people in the house, things are getting messier than they usually are. Between running in and out the door (tracking in all sorts of dirt in the process), to eating popsicles in the living room and creating more dirty dishes, they tend to be quite the mess-makers! When they’re in school all day, kids don’t have as much time to create such chaos, but when summer comes, many parents become discouraged and frustrated with the condition that the house is in. The answer, of course, is to get the kids to help out more! Here are some chores that you children should be able to do to help keep order in the household.
- Keeping up with the dishes Whether you handwash dishes or use a dishwasher, kids as young as eight should be able to handle many facets of this task. Once they can reach the upper cabinets, your children can unload the dishwasher. Younger ones can put away the silverware out of the basket, even if you need to do the rest. Teach school-aged kids how to load the dishwasher as well; they need to know which items go where so that everything gets clean when you run the wash cycle. Kids can also handwash dishes; if you don’t want them doing it themselves, let them rinse and/or dry the dishes after you wash them.
- Helping with laundry duties Between trips to the pool and making mudpies in the backyard, kids tend to wear more than one outfit per day in the summer. This adds up to quite a bit of laundry! The littlest ones can help by folding their own clothes, or by handling small towels and pillowcases. Older kids can learn to do a load of laundry from start to finish, ending with getting it folded and put away.
- Sweeping the floors While sweeping seems simple, there is actually a learning curve involved. Little ones can use the brush and dustpan after you’ve swept the floors in a room. Older kids can learn how to use the full-sized broom, but you’ll have to help them with their technique to show them how to get the dirt from the edges of the room into the pile in the center of the room. Plan on sweeping again after them until they’re about ten years old, but it’s still good practice for slightly younger children.
- Cleaning the bathroom You don’t want to give young kids access to chemicals, but they can use baby wipes to wipe around the sink when they’re done in the morning. You could also give them a spray bottle with vinegar and water to wash the mirror. They can squirt the same solution in the toilet before scrubbing it with the brush. You’ll need to go in and use bleach or other heavy-duty disinfectants every week or so, but kids as young as six or so can help keep the bathroom sanitary in between deep cleanings.
- Quick pick-ups Keeping the house decluttered is really the cornerstone of good home organization. Every morning and every afternoon, announce that it’s time for a quick pick-up (or, in my family, a ten-minute tidy). During this time, assign each child a room or a portion of a room to whip into shape as quickly as possible. Since it’s only for a few minutes, kids are likely to jump in. Set a timer if it helps. Another method is to give each child either a garbage bag or a basket. Kids with garbage bags need to throw away any trash (papers, food wrappers or various other junk) that they find laying around, and kids with baskets need to pick up stray items that they find. At the end, everyone can work together for a few minutes putting away their belongings that ended up in the baskets.
Getting your kids to help around the house does more than keep the house cleaner; it also teaches them how to do these essential chores so that one day, they’ll be able to keep their own homes organized and tidy. There is also the possibility that they won’t make such a mess when they realize that they’ll have to be the ones to clean it up!