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Readers reveal how they get their kids to clean

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Mama's motivation

When it comes to motivation for household chores, there's no need to reinvent the wheel. Our readers share their awesome ideas for putting the kids to work around the house so that you, too, can kick back like the delegating mama you are.
Mother and son loading dishwasher
Photo credit: Dean Mitchell/Vetta/Getty images

Our recent spring cleaning survey revealed some telling information about our readers. Unfortunately, 43 percent of you reported that you have difficulty getting your children to help with household chores. Not only that, just four percent of you think a house should be germ-free following spring cleaning. Sound like you? Keep reading for expert tips from the 22 percent of moms who report that they've managed to make household cleaning and disinfecting a family affair.

Teamwork is fundamental

Kids know that it's important to be where the action is. You're unlikely to have much luck with chores if you simply send them to their rooms to clean in a drudgery-filled atmosphere. Instead, make cleaning a family affair where the kids can learn to appreciate and enjoy teamwork. "I made a chore list for us as mom and dad, so our children can see that we all work together to keep the house clean," writes one mom. No word on whether or not her husband appreciates it, but we love the idea.

Other moms find that simply sitting with their children while they clean is enough motivation to keep them going. A mother with a young daughter reports, "The only way my child can stay focused on cleaning is if I'm there with her."

Start early

Time and again, we heard one consistent theme from mamas who know how to motivate: Give your children household chores from an early age. Kids as young as 3 and 4 can participate in cleaning up after themselves, feeding the pets or even putting away laundry. You can even put older children to work disinfecting germy rooms with disinfecting wipes like Lysol Power & Free Multi-Purpose Wipes which feature hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient so kids can clean without you worrying about harsh chemical residues. Just remember to supervise your little ones while they clean!

"I think it's incredibly important that children are raised to share household duties," says one mom. Another mom echoes the sentiment: "My child has weekly chores that have pretty much become a habit by now and he doesn't even question it. Responsibility has to start early." If you engage your kids when they still think unloading the dishwasher is fun, you won't have to battle with them as they grow older.

Give your minions the incentives they need

"I reward them by letting them cook with me, which is very enjoyable," writes one reader. Another reader adds that if her kids finish their chores quickly, she rewards them "with friends and events." As a mom, you know that your kids respond to rewards. Consider which types of rewards cause your child's heart to leap, and don't even hesitate to provide such an incentive. Stay away from cash rewards and instead reward them with stickers, coupons and family time.

Turn it into party time

Chores can be fun, believe it or not. We love the party vibe of one mom, who writes, "On Saturday mornings, we turn up the music really loud and do a good, deep clean." Other readers like to use clever supplies, like Lysol's Power & Free Toilet Bowl Cleaner — which bubbles on contact for a pristine and chemical-free clean — to fill chore time with fun. The bonus, of course, is that safe cleaners like Lysol allow your kids to tackle the germiest places in the home, which we know are the last on your list.

Finally, parties are only fun when they're time-limited. Make sure that your kids know how long you expect them to help out and shut it down when it's turning into a party that never ends. "We try to pick a Saturday when everyone is home so that when we clean, everyone can take two rooms and we're done in no time," concludes one of our savvy readers.

This post was sponsored by Lysol.

More on organizing and cleaning

Skip making the bed: 10 Other tasks your kids should do
Are "As Seen on TV" products worth the money?
How to mop real hardwood floors

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