Welcome to Spring (Cleaning)!
Include the whole clan to make your house spic and span!
There’s no reason you have to make your spring clean a one person show. Enlist the kids — no matter their age — to lend a helping hand. Give them age-appropriate chores and they'll learn lessons along the way.
Toddlers (ages 2-5)
Don’t be fooled by their cherubic faces, even toddlers can manage some chores. Roger W.McIntire, a psychology professor at the University of Maryland and author of Raising Good Kids in Tough Times, affirms that kids can do a lot at an early age. "You might think your child is too young. But your kids may be more capable than you think,” he says. McIntire also suggests keeping tasks easy, such as putting clothes into the laundry or cleaning up after dinner. This teaches them by doing. “We hold back too long because we think they ought to be ready first. But that puts the cart before the horse," says McIntire. Other chores they can do include:
- picking up toys
- wiping down surfaces
- throwing away diapers/putting things into the garbage
- watering plants
- backseat car organizing (item by color)
Junior has mastered the basics, so keep the momentum going with a few, simple add-ons. If they can clear the table, have them load dishes into the dishwasher. Or, have them separate the light color clothes from the darks and load them into the washing machine. But, don’t expect perfection. While they may not pack the dishes the way you would, avoid jumping in and doing it for them, or scolding them for doing it ‘wrong’. Instead, show them how to do it properly (kids are visual), then let them take the reins, giving praise in the process. Just beware of overwhelming them with something too complicated, which could put them off doing chores entirely.
Other chores they can do include:
- wiping down sink and mirror in bathroom
- folding laundry
- unloading dishwasher (put too-high items on the floor for parents to put away)
- sweeping floors and hallways
- emptying garbage cans
- cleaning car windows
At this age kids may need a bit of motivation. Introduce a chores chart. There are a variety of downloadable ones based on age, day or week. And, if Bobby and Sally are vying for the same task, have them alternate weeks, or make it fun and have them bid on the chore, explaining how they’d do the job. Place the chart in a high-traffic area like near the front door so everyone can see it, and have a family check in once a week. For a successful clean, it’s best to be consistent. Keep the weekly check-ins and due dates on the same day every week. Other chores they can do include:
- dusting tables, chairs and bookshelves
- helping with meal prep
- vacuuming the car
- weeding garden
- organizing toys and clothes
- cleaning their bedroom (just ‘cleaning your room' is vague and can be interpreted in any number of ways. Instead, be explicit: put your clothes in the closet, books on the shelf, dishes in the kitchen, and toys in the toy box, etc).
Regardless of whether you put the kids to work in the house, in the yard, or even in the car, teaching them basic skills will help them across every area of their life, this spring season and every one after.