Make good habits fun and easy
Start with the basics. Teach your kids to sing a song while washing their hands. The Alphabet song is a good choice, as is "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Have kids wet their hands, then turn off the
water. Next, suds up and start singing. At the end of the song, rinse and dry hands.
Tooth brushing and body washing can also be set to music. A kid-friendly, inexpensive, waterproof MP3 player can house a great "hygiene" playlist. Kids can learn to brush teeth and scrub their
bodies for the length of a specific song. Go through the routine together for about a week, and your kids will have it down pat. It's an easy way to make sure they're getting clean and not skipping
Mornings, evenings, and in-between
Your kids probably start the day with a trip to the bathroom, tooth brushing/face washing, hair brushing, and so on. At the end of the day is the bath time routine. And in between, there are many
bathroom trips. You want each of these visits to run smoothly, so set up a system to manage them.
Write out each routine on a sheet of paper and slip it into a sheet protector. Kids can check things off with a dry erase marker, or just use the list as a visual reminder. For younger children who
aren't reading yet, take photos of them doing the various steps and print them out, or simply draw pictures on index cards. (Cover the cards with clear packing tape to make them sturdier.)
Set it, check it, don't forget it
A routine won't help if it's not followed. So work on it together for at least the first week. Younger children will need a longer observation period, but most kids should have the whole thing down
pat within a month. Along the way, evaluate what's working and what's not. Don't be afraid to tweak the routine, but mentally reset the clock when you make changes. Once the routine is established,
make it a habit to check on your kids periodically to make sure they're still on track.
Add in mini-cleaning routines
Part of what you want your kids to understand is that everyone who uses the bathroom should take part in cleaning it. So set a toilet routine, for example:
- Use toilet
- Wipe and flush
- Swish the brush
- Wipe the seat
- Wash hands
Don't think your kids can handle swishing a toilet bowl and wiping down the seat? Think again. With disposable toilet brushes, you don't have to worry about icky germs and contamination, and kids
enjoy the routine. Keep flushable wipes near the toilet – kids can use these to wipe down the seat quickly and easily.
Tired of scrubbing toothpaste out of the sink? Keep a stash of rags in a basket under the sink, and show kids how to take one, dry out the sink and wipe down the faucets after handwashing and
Many shower and bath sprays don't even need to be rinsed away, so show your kids how a couple of quick squirts after a bath keeps the tub clean and the bathroom smelling great.