(ARA) - It sounds like the impossible dream: Getting your kids to help clean up around the house. But Tara Aronson -- aka Mrs. Clean Jeans, a mother of three -- says it s really not that hard. The secret? Make cleaning fun -- and reward kids for completing their chores.
Cleaning games work wonders, says Aronson, adding that even young children can participate. One of my favorite games is one my 3-year-old and I play, where he puts away everything he can find of one kind of object -- everything that s blue, for example, or bigger than his hand, or round.
Of course, it takes a little more to get kids into the habit of cleaning. Listing tasks on a chore chart that allows each child to earn rewards for completing an assignment helps keep track of who s responsible for what. Such motivation is an important part of making cleaning a habit, says Aronson.
Making cleaning fast, fun and rewarding helps children develop a sense of responsibility and respect, she says.
Of course, it s important to choose age-appropriate chores. Cleaning is easier when kids can do what they re good at, says Aronson. For example, you might assign a 5- or 6-year-old responsibility for helping set the table, putting away toys and putting dirty clothes in the hamper. A teen might be expected to sort, wash and fold laundry, mop floors and, yes, clean up his or her room.
Other tips keep the family on the right cleaning track: Hold a family meeting to divvy up chores. Let the kids pick what they will do. Lead by example -- keep your things neatly stored. And limit chore time; no chore should take more than 15 to 30 minutes.
Be prepared with the right supplies. For example, kids will have fun cleaning windows, counters and mirrors with a mini-spray bottle and a roll of paper towels.
Reward the kids. Make sure the reward is something your child is excited about, such as a family trip to the movies. Little ones might like stickers or tickets they can save up and redeem for a trip to the zoo. Beyond the obvious advantage of having a clean house, cleaning with your kids provides valuable family time. Indeed, one of Aronson s suggestions is to spend the day scrubbing together, and then go out for dinner and a movie.
Resist the urge to assign a lot of chores that send children off on their own by cleaning together, she says. The kids will see that everyone is responsible for keeping the home spotless because you ll be working hard alongside them.
Other games Aronson suggests include: ABCs: Start by shouting out a letter of the alphabet. Then every member of the family goes through the house cleaning everything that begins with that letter. Not only do you help build your child s vocabulary, you also encourage creativity -- is that just a table, or the kitchen table? Or even the square table with crayon marks?
Pump up the volume: Put on your child s favorite music while you clean. Watch as they -- or even you -- turn the mop into a dance partner. The house will be filled with positive energy instead of grumbling (and you just might appear hip to your child s music).
Or best of all, you and your family can devise your own favorite clean-up game. Playing while you work is the surest way to get chores done fast. Courtesy of ARA Content