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Teach your kids to help with the house cleaning

Regularly putting dishes away or keeping a neat room maybe a rule in your home for your child, but when was the last time your child helped with more serious cleaning. Sweeping the hallway, dusting the living room, or even wiping down the bathtub? Never? Time to start.


We do our children no favors if we don’t teach them the mundane tasks of life. Right alongside the joyous and wonderful are things that just have to get done. That includes cleaning. Really cleaning the house. You’ve been doing it for years — and you learned from your parents. Time to pass along the lesson and give your kids solid life skills. Yes, cleaning is a life skill, even if it’s not very exciting.

More than just picking up

Cleaning is not just picking up toys and clothes and putting them away properly. You know that. But does your child? When you ask your child — whether toddler or teenager — to clean up now, do you mean that simple surface de-cluttering? If you do, then it’s time to take the concept of cleaning to the next level.

sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing

Kids, even young kids, can help with the heavier cleaning activities. Sweeping and dusting and vacuuming are little kid favorites, which is why you can purchase toy cleaning items for playing house. While those toys introduce the concept, why bother with toys? Give them real (small) brooms and such and let them clean for real. Okay, so maybe your five-year-old isn’t as meticulous as you are, but it’s a start. Take it.

As for your older child, he or she can most definitely do the job — and do it well if they so choose. Yes, you may well get some resistance, but your adolescent will get over it eventually. And if your surly teen has to repeat the task until it’s done correctly? So be it.

under, around, above, behind

Don’t be surprised when introducing your kids to real housecleaning if they try not to do a complete job. If they don’t see the dust bunnies under the couch, they don’t matter, right? Yeah, you’ve heard that one before.

You’re going to heave to be a little persistent here to be sure your kids gets the message that cleaning is more than just what they can see. Verbally direct your child to look under, around, above and behind and describe the kind of clean you expect. Don’t do it for them — they’ll never actually learn that way and may think they’ve pulled one over on you! — and do inspect their work. As your kids get older, you most definitely do not have to compromise your standards, either. They can, and should, learn what “clean” means.

Should you pay?

Some parents wonder if they should pay their children for participating in this kind of heavy cleaning. That is entirely family dependent. Are you paid for this work now? Were you paid for it when you were a kid? Isn’t it just part of life? Or is it a burden on an already very busy academic load? Those are all factors you can consider when deciding whether this work will be paid. But paid or not, the cleaning has to get done — and your children need to learn how to do it for their own futures.
Yes, cleaning is a mundane, not exciting task. Your kids have to learn it! They can do it! And you can teach them. Start today.

More on your family and chores

How to get your family to do chores
How to make family chore lists
Tips to create a family chores list

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