Kids and cleaning. Do those words go together, in the same sentence? 

According to Don Aslett, in his book “No Time to Clean” the most important chapter is “Getting KIDS to help clean,” and as a mom of four boys I couldn't agree more. But, we all know that getting kids to help clean is almost as big of a chore as just doing it ourselves and most of the time we end up “fixing” it anyway. According to Don, cleaning around the house is one of the last opportunities that kids have to learn personal responsibility and help with the daily demands of living. 

Let's be honest, kids have it pretty easy nowadays. In the past kids had chores like gathering eggs, feeding animals, working in the garden or fields. Now we have automatic everything with instant gratification.  In ten seconds of being on my phone I can start the vacuum or turn on the dishwasher. It's a luxury that I enjoy and don’t want to live without. But, I want to teach my children the value of hard work, and the satisfaction of doing a chore that needs to be done and feeling good about it. I want to teach my children work ethic, and it starts at home with chores. 

So how do we get kids to clean? 

Bribe them? Maybe. 

If your kid is motivated by money or rewards this might work for you. If you are on a tight budget use free rewards, like going to the park, family movie night, or having friends over.  A surprise reward every now and then is always a fun reward. “How about a picnic in the park after you’ve cleaned your room?” No matter what age you can find and reward that fits your child. 

Lead by example. Let your kids see you clean. Explain what you are doing and why. Buy them cleaning toys, let them pretend while you do the real thing, or give them a feather duster or microfiber cloth and let them go to work.

Show your older kids and teenagers the right way to clean and tell them why you do it like that. Point out the benefits of cleaning and praise them when they keep things clean and do it correctly. Don says “Keep those compliments coming, during, after, over and over and over.” We all want to be praised for our hard work and if we want our kids to find satisfaction in a job well done, it starts with us. 

Reinforce the value of cleanliness. “Look how good this place looks, doesn’t it make you feel good?” A clean environment not only gives us a mood boost, but we are less likely to get sick. We want to live in a healthy, clean environment that is free of clutter. 

Also it's a hazard to have stuff thrown on the floor. You can trip and fall! We can teach our kids the value of personal belongings if we leave them on the ground, you step on your toys and break them, dirty shoe prints on your clothes, school projects and artwork ripped. 

Once several years ago, I was traveling and I threw all my dirty clothes on the hotel floor in a pile. At the end of the vacation I was packing it all up and found a large lizard in my clothes. Long story short, I never leave my clothes on the floor.

Have fun cleaning. There is nothing wrong with making a mess, that is how our kids learn. They play with toys, arts and crafts, cooking and more. The problem happens when kids have fun and  leave the mess for someone else to clean. Turn on some music, make a game out of it, put on some mop slippers, and smile! 

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September 14, 2022 — Marissa Benson

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