You may think that being a father and one of the owners of a professional home cleaning services that my little ones would be naturally-born cleaners. Alas, it’s not true. However, since I am so involved in making sure a home is clean and tidy it made some sense for me to do a bit of teaching – teaching my children to help with the cleaning of our home.
Here was my approach.
Make Cleaning Education Age-Appropriate
I needed to think about what cleaning tasks would be age-appropriate. You do not want your 3-year old handling cleaning products. Also, if something is just too messy and dirty it is best left to an older child. Therefore, make sure you have thought out cleaning tasks and make sure they are matched with the age and maturity of the child.
Make It Fun
A chart with kid-cool stickers gets things going in the right direction. Children love stickers and if you make a monthly chart with the tasks and the assignments and set it up so that it is visible then this makes it fun. Place a sticker in the square when a task has been completed. This provides a sense of accomplishment for the child. It also ties in nicely to how your school may provide stickers for a job well done.
Note that goal achievement occurs over time. The chart is a monthly chart with multiple times when a cleaning task needs to be completed. This teaches that one must work towards something and downplays the instant gratification mentality.
When setting goals, it is a good idea to use the S.M.A.R.T. method. This ensures that the goals are well understood. For those who may not be familiar with S.M.A.R.T. goals or need a refresher here is the breakdown of what S.M.A.R.T. stands for.
Everyone likes to be rewarded for something done well. This could be an “at-a-boy” (or girl) but it could also be a trip to the ice cream shop. Let everyone know that there will be a reward for a task well done and done on time.
I have found that it worked best if the children knew that I wanted them to achieve their goals and to experience the reward. Let them know that you are part of the team (not just “the boss”).
Build It into the Routine
Make the cleaning part of a routine. Perhaps on Saturday mornings, there is an hour of cleaning before doing other things. Perhaps there are 15 minutes of cleaning after coming home from school each day. Routines help people to get things done. Don’t make it burdensome. Make it a part of a routine that helps everyone to stay on track.
Look for Teaching Opportunities
There will be times when something has not been cleaned well or properly. Do not scold. Treat these times as teaching opportunities. If someone has missed cleaning in the hard-to-reach corners then provide an idea for how to do better and remind them that you want them to achieve their reward for a job-well-done.
To teach your children both the skills of goal setting, achievement with steady progress towards a goal, and cleaning are important life skills.
Keep in mind that if you want some help with your home cleaning (beyond the help of your little ones) we can come by for a discussion on your cleaning goals and how to achieve them and then maintain them. Give us a call if your home is in the Upper Valley at 802-295-6065.
Also, you may be interested in this blog post which is a Bathroom Cleaning Checklist designed for kids (but works well for adults too!).