Mar 21, 2017, 11:01:45 AM CDT Mar 18, 2024, 12:53:25 PM CDT

Spring cleaning: Tips for including the kids

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore you tackle alone. Check out these ideas for age-appropriate tasks and 8 tips for cleaning with kids.

Mother and daughter cleaning together Mother and daughter cleaning together

Spring cleaning can be great for your mental and physical health. Getting rid of clutter and reorganizing can help your home feel more peaceful. And getting rid of dust, mold and pollen can bring relief from seasonal allergies.

Even if you don't have allergies, spring cleaning can reduce the bacteria you live with – making your home a healthier place for you and your kids. It's also an opportunity to teach your children how to clean and maintain a healthy space.

The benefits of involving your kids in spring cleaning

There are several benefits of involving your children in spring cleaning, including:

  • More family time. Any activity that you do together counts as family time – time that your children will likely remember much more than being on a screen.
  • Increased physical activity. Cleaning gets the body moving, and many kids (and adults) can benefit from more movement in their lives.
  • A chance to learn new skills. It takes time to learn to clean an entire bathroom well. But your child will feel proud when they've mastered that skill.
  • Learning to work as a team. When you take on a big task as a team, you learn to negotiate and communicate better. You also find out how “work” can feel less like “work” when you're not doing it alone.
  • Teaching your kids about sharing the load. It's important for kids to learn that maintaining and cleaning a home isn't just one person's job.
  • Boosting self-esteem. When children complete tasks, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and a boost of confidence.

Age-appropriate cleaning tasks for kids

Children of all ages can help with cleaning. The key is to make sure you're not asking them to do something beyond their ability. If they feel successful, they're much more likely to want to help in the future. And if they feel frustrated and resentful, they won't.

Here are some ideas for age-appropriate cleaning tasks for children:

  • Ages 2-3: Toddlers can put toys away, pile up books on a shelf and mop small areas with a dry mop.
  • Ages 4-5: Children this age can also wipe down tables, dust or wipe baseboards with a sock on their hand, gather and separate clothes by color for laundry and use a hand-held vacuum.
  • Ages 6-10: When children reach this age, you can add more tasks to their list including making their beds, putting away their folded laundry, sweeping and wet mopping the floor, taking out the trash and vacuuming.
  • Ages 11 and above: Older children are ready to add on bigger tasks like cleaning the fridge, sinks, toilets, showers and windows.

8 tips for spring cleaning with kids

It's important to remember that kids will view cleaning as a terrible task if you do. A positive approach to cleaning can help your kids understand that even necessary tasks can be enjoyable. Here are some practical tips to make spring cleaning a family affair:

1. Assign tasks randomly

Random selection can cut down on arguments among family members. If most of your participating family members are capable of several cleaning duties, try writing jobs on index cards or paper, folding them and asking everyone to choose from a hat or jar.

2. Tackle one space at a time

Trying to clean the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms all at once can cause unnecessary stress. Instead, tackle one room at a time – so the kids can easily see the results of their hard work. If it takes longer than you planned to finish a room, consider saving others for another day.

3. Encourage giving

If you have too many clothes or toys, talk to your kids about donating their old items to children who may not have access new toys.

4. Teach the task

Don't expect them to know how to do a cleaning task without showing them how to do it. Explain and demonstrate the task first. Then, have them repeat any instructions back to you before they get started.

5. Give positive feedback

Focus first on what they did well. You might say: You did a good job wiping the counter here. But I see one spot that still needs wiping. Can you find it?

6. Add a soundtrack

Play upbeat music to keep the kids motivated. Let each child pick a song and see how much faster the scrubbing and organizing seems to go.

7. Make it fun

Turn cleaning time into play time by making up games. You can do a scavenger hunt by finding common household clutter – a matchless sock, candy wrappers, receipts – and whoever finds the most wins. Or you can teach your kids how to make homemade bubbles from dish soap and take bubble breaks between tasks. Encourage your kids to make up their own cleaning games too.

8. Reward them

It can fuel motivation if everyone has something to look forward to later. Celebrate cleaning efforts with a pizza night, family movie, game night or other fun activity.

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