Spring Cleaning With Kids

Photo: Jason DeRusha

Spring cleaning has arrived and it is time to give your house that fresh and renewed atmosphere.  This process can and should include the kids. Recruiting the kids for help with spring cleaning is a key way to get your home in tip-top shape in no time, as well as reminding them that they too have ownership over the place they call home.

There are cases where the promise of a reward might be in order. But in most cases, making the event a game, or a fun time is a great way to get the kids motivated. And ultimately, you’ll find at the end, that your kids really do want to contribute. They want to take part in making your house a home.

Cleaning up with kids: “I bet you can’t beat me”

Kids love fun challenges. Saying things like “see if you can beat me,” or “Let’s see who can finish first” is a great way to prime that competitive pump. Present the tasks you have to get done as a series of games:

  • The first one to strip their bed and put the sheets into the laundry hamper gets to choose the mid-morning snack.
  • The first one to go around the house and pick up all the trash can make mom or dad (both?) sing a funny song or do a funny dance.
  • The first one to make a cleaning list with 10 things on it can pick what the family has for dinner.
  • The first one to complete their list can pick a movie for movie night.

You can have your own “Spring Cleaning Olympics”, with medals and treats for everyone at the end. Invite the kids to choose a country to represent, a type of animal, or a color on the color wheel. And let the games begin! Make it fun for everyone!

Sometimes, work is it’s own reward just because it’s just as fun as playtime is, especially when you’re doing it together. But, a bit of competition can make work seem even more fun.

House cleaning jobs for kids to consider for the big spring clean:

A lot of the jobs your kids can help you with will depend on how old they are. But, here are a few ideas as to where they can start helping you tackle that big spring clean

  • Beating the rugs
  • Washing sliding doors with spray bottle
  • Sorting toys – old and new
  • Brushing dogs and cats and removing winter fur
  • Light dusting
  • Weeding
  • Loading the dishwasher
  • Cleaning up the interior of the car
  • Cleaning the exterior of the car – hose, bucket, and sponges
  • Collecting recyclable materials and separating them from regular garbage
  • Sweeping and mopping entranceways

Cleaning up, with a payoff when you’re done

There are many ways to get kids motivated to work, and most of the time the rewards are not going to cost the parents a thing. However, there are fun ways to motivate children through prizes. Things like:

  • For every three old toys place in the removal pile you can buy one for $5 or less.
  • For a pile of old, worn-out clothes you can choose a new outfit at the mall.
  • Completing the items on the cleaning list thoroughly deserves a trip to get ice cream.

You wouldn’t want the reward to be an absolute term every time when getting kids to clean up around the house. But, every once and a while, a small reward can be the spark you need to get the children to see the importance of living in a clean house.  Pretty soon, it’s the pride they can share in a comfortable home that ends up being the real reward in the long term. When they contribute to a home, it gives them a sense of ownership. That way, it’s not just your home their cleaning, but their own.

Make spring cleaning a life lesson

Consider making your spring cleaning this year a life lesson with your children. Have them gather up all of their old things, or things that they no longer want, and take them to a shelter. This way they can see families that are in need. You will find that you have a child that appreciates what he has much more than before. This is a great way for your children to also interact with other kids that come from different places, so they can see how others live.

Teach them to respect the home by giving them ownership. Let them know they are responsible for keeping their rooms and things intact. This will help them to realize that what they have needs care, and that things will not get replaced if broken through negligence. A great way to encourage this is through a small allowance. Kids love money, and they love the independent feeling it gives them to have some. Place a price on particular things like making beds, putting clothes in the laundry, and putting toys away. Once they begin to feel a sense of ownership they will be much more mindful of their possessions, and yours as well.

Use Key Terms To Get Them Motivated

Photo: David Reber's Hammer Photography

Spring cleaning can be much more than cleaning time, it can be a great way to bond with your child, and you will know you have done well when you hear your child say, “take off those shoes, I just did the floors!”

Kids love knowing that they have an important job to do, and that they can own the results at the end. When it comes to motivating them, there are some key terms that you can use to get your child to help with the task of spring cleaning:

I need your help with…
This is very important, and I know I can trust you.
I know you have the skill to do this well.
I could use your ideas on this. What do you think?

When they know you feel that they are a recognized part of the project, your children will be quickly invested in the process. Their contribution reminds them of their self-worth, while also spending time with you on a common project.

Kids really want to help with spring cleaning

Kids love to contribute. They love to be rewarded by a good result of their efforts, and they love to have their work acknowledged. In the end, your kids aren’t much different from you in these respects.

By building these ideas into the cleaning process, your children will enjoy helping you around the house. When they realize that work is appreciated and rewarded by a good result that benefits everyone, the recognition of their efforts will motivate them to help out more often. Kids are pleasers, and they love that good feeling of praise. And they love to see that they’ve had positive impact, just like you do.

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