When you're juggling work and family, spring cleaning may seem too low on your to-do list to think about right now. But doing a little bit at a time adds up, and getting your kids to help out can make a big difference.
By helping you tackle the household cleaning, kids learn about teamwork and organization. They might also learn one other valuable lesson: The tidier their rooms, the less difficult they may be to clean!
“When tackling spring cleaning with children, parents often assign children tasks that are overwhelming for their age or too general for them to understand how to break it all down to accomplish the task,” said Laura Olson, vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, a national child care and education franchisor. “The key for parents is to focus on making tasks age-appropriate and engaging so that children’s activities are manageable and help them feel that they are making a positive impact in the overall process.”
Olson offers five tips for parents who are trying to get their kids in on the spring cleaning process:
1.) Break a large job down into small steps. Especially when you're assigning a project to a younger child, try doling out small, specific projects, one at a time, until the overall goal is met. So, instead of asking him to put away all his toys, ask him to pick up the blocks first, then the stuffed animals, then the books.
2.) Spread things out. Is the family room full of clutter? Cleaning it over the course of two or three days may make more sense -- and be less frustrating -- than trying to get it spick-and-span in an afternoon.
3.) Make organization make sense. Try not to expect your child to clean when you’re not there, Olson suggests. Explain to your child why things need to go in certain places, so he understands what you're really asking him to do.
4.) Use positive reinforcement. Lavish them with encouragement while they're cleaning up, and compliment and hug them when the job is done, but try to avoid using bribes or material rewards. The labor should be tied to a sense of responsibility, not to the chances of getting a treat.
5.) Let your child have some control. Donating items to charity, or throwing used toys and clothes away? Let your child have a little control over what stays and what goes. Ask her which items she wants to save and, if she wants to hold on to everything, set a limit. Five items? 10 items? Assess your storage situation and go from there.