There was a day when I imagined that when our children could drive, apply for college, and deposit a pay check, they would help with Spring Cleaning without even being asked. I was deluded. There will never come a time when the woman of the house doesn’t have to get her hands dirty in guiding her family in the care and cooperation of her home.
If you want to get your kids to help with Spring Cleaning, you have to throw out your rotten habits and bring in some fresh ones. Kids of every age need moms to encourage, equip, and empower them to be involved in caring for the home they share with their family. By successfully engaging children in the work of the household, we prepare them to be responsible (and clean?) when they have a home of their own.
Throw out your rotten habits
- Nagging ~ Because it never works. Repeated negative messages suggest frustration, lack of confidence, and opposition. If you want kids to help with Spring Cleaning, “Bag the nag” and get started!
- Long Lists ~ Because they set kids up for failure. Instead of putting long, insurmountable goals in writing, craft short, attainable, age appropriate tasks your child can achieve. Teach them how good it feels to complete work.
- Isolation ~ Because we’re on the same team. Isolation can feel like punishment. Children of all ages need mentoring to turn their work into learning opportunities. Kids benefit from our company as we work side by side and let relationships grow while tasks are done.
- Criticism ~ Because it crushes the spirit. When children do their age-appropriate best (or husbands, for that matter) we either reinforce our joy at their diligence or teach them they can not do enough to satisfy us. Dishwasher filled inefficiently? Clothes folded imperfectly? Resist the urge to “re-do” their work. Guide when necessary, but appreciate always.
Bring fresh in to the house
- Tools ~ Because it’s fun! Appropriately sized equipment for your child communicates that you desire their participation, plan for their regular involvement, and value their contribution. Get the right tools to make work easier to do, and set them up for success.
- Rewards ~ Because something motivates everyone. You don’t need to pay children to help maintain their own home, but give “rewards” they long for: appreciation, hugs, praise, rest. Help them learn the valuable lesson that hard work brings blessing.
- Information ~ Because kids ask “Why?” Your kids are smart! Give them reasons behind the work we do. Why DO windows need to be cleaned? Why DO we change our sheets? Show them a picture of a peaceful room and talk about why it would feel good to be there. There are answers for “Why?” questions.
- Learning ~ Because knowing leads to growing. Starting at home, children learn to feel competent and confident about their world and their part in it. As they understand the care of a home, they’ll feel more self-assured about establishing one of their own. Or you could do their laundry forever …
One day our kids will grow up and have homes of their own. Like us, they will have the potential to let household things overtake them: laundry, dust, clutter, and mess. This spring, let’s clean out our rotten habits and bring in a fresh supply of good practices so we teach our kids the joy of keeping a house as a home.
By Julie Sanders at Come Have a Peace