As you continue to spring clean your home, I encourage you to ask your kids to help. Yes, I realize that most children will not be eager to jump in and help mom or dad clean the house, but getting your kids involved not only lessens your cleaning load, but it teaches children the value of having a clean and organized home.
With a little creativity and a lot of organization, even the youngest of children can get involved in the housecleaning fun. The key is to find tasks that match their abilities such as having toddlers put away toys while older kids take on bigger projects like vacuuming the living room. There is a great guide for matching chores with age here and you can even keep track of chores (and allowance) with the Chore Bank iPhone app.
In addition to finding the perfect task/kid match, you also need to make cleaning fun. Here are several ways you can make this household task seem less like a chore and more like treat:
Give Them Their Own Stuff
Kids, especially young kids, love having things that are their very own--and that includes cleaning supplies. I love this idea from Pink and Green Mama: make a little cleaning caddy. You can fill the caddy with all-natural cleaning supplies and tools such as an old sock for cleaning floors and microfiber cloths for dusting furniture. For older kids, you can even add a handheld vacuum.
Pump Up the Jams
Literally -- turn up the music. Even adults seem to be more inspired to complete a task when good music is being played. There are several "clean up" songs that young kids enjoy, but if you've had your fill of Dora and Barney, there are other fun options such as "15 Songs for Hipster Kids and Their Parents" and "10 Pop Songs Little Kids Can Dance To (oh, and their parents can hang, too)". Soon the entire family will be dancing around the clean living room!
Teamwork Makes the Clean Work
In general, kids enjoy doing tasks where they are part of a group. So, before you send little Jimmy off to clean the bathroom by himself, consider joining him. "While Dad wields the bowl cleaner and the tile brush, his helper can scrub the sink, polish the fixtures, empty the trash and trundle towels and rugs to the laundry room," writes organizedhome.com. This helps you model the behavior you want to see from your children and it is a great way to sneak in some quality kid conversations.
Set a Timer
A simple timer is a must-have for all of your cleaning-with-kid projects. Set the timer for a respectable amount of time (5 minutes should do it) and have your children pick up as many toys (or clothes, or books, etc.) as they can until the timer goes off. Or, time them to see how fast they can pick up a room--challenging them to beat their time with each and every room. This is a great way to get clutter picked up quickly, but it is also a good way to keep kids engaged in the cleaning process. By breaking down seemingly big tasks into small, bite-sized chunks kids will feel more accomplished and eager to continue cleaning.
Show the Big Picture
One of the greatest things about spring cleaning is the ability for each of us to donate some of our unused items--especially clothing. Enlist your kids in the process of cleaning out their closets and take unwanted items to a local non-profit such as Greenmarket Clothing Collection, a partnership between GrowNYC and Wearable Collections, that lets residents drop off their unwanted clothing at 30 different Greenmarkets throughout New York City. This type of family activity will let kids see beyond the cleaning tasks and begin to understand the true meaning of working together.
Talk to us: What tips do you have for getting your kids to help with spring cleaning?