“Mama, can I help with the vacuuming?”
Isn’t that music to your ears? Lately I have been asked this question a lot, partly because we have a new vacuum cleaner which everyone in the house is slightly obsessed with (vacuuming has never been so easy) and partly because I have implemented a few changes in our home to help get the kids more excited about helping out around the house.
If you have been following my blog for a while, you may remember that we don’t do “chores” in our home but we do “family service” instead. You can read about that here. As described in that post, the kids regularly sort and put away the laundry as well as fill and empty the dishwasher. Now (at ages 7 and 4.5) they can also vacuum, mop, wipe down the tables/cabinets/window sills, and take off their sheets. These small jobs really do add up, and hopefully we are raising them little by little to become capable and confident at caring for their own home.
Here are my tips for to help get kids to enjoy housework:
Keep a positive attitude about cleaning.
This means I have been watching my own comments about cleaning. I realised at some point that if I was regularly complaining (or should I say moaning?) about doing housework, then my kids would naturally be developing the same negative attitude. “Ugh, do I really have to tidy the lounge again?” Not such a great example, even if it’s said to no one under my breath. What’s the point of that, anyway? Now I try my best to stay upbeat and avoid a tone of dread when I say it’s time for tidying up. I admit that I don’t always love to clean, but it’s definitely not the worst job in the world and I am always happy after I’ve done it! Remembering to be grateful to have a home at all helps me keep this perspective.
Invest in cleaning tools the kids can use easily.
I love our regular Dyson (it’s 7 years old and still going strong), but it wasn’t until we got the Dyson V6 Absolute that the kids could really get involved in the vacuuming without me having to help. The V6 is just so easy to take out and use… no cord, so light, and very easy for the kids to manoeuvre. It has made all the difference to them taking care of the crumbs under the table and cleaning the floors in their own rooms. Probably my favourite thing about it, however, is that we can take off the stick, put on any of the Dyson attachments, and use the machine in the car. Not having to carry the big Dyson down the stairs or plug it into the garage has been AWESOME! The V6 is great for quick jobs as the battery life lasts about 20 minutes… of course that’s more than the kids ever do, anyway!
Keep cleaning supplies organised and within reach.
I have a shelf in the kitchen with our cleaning cloths so the kids can easily grab one when it’s time. There are three types of cloths in labeled storage boxes because I’m picky about what different cloths are used for – general cleaning, kitchen, and face cloths (i.e. to use on hands or face – mostly for the baby these days). This helps me not go crazy when the kids want to help out because I have set things up for them to easily follow my system. We also have a stool so they can get up to the kitchen sink for water (and soap if necessary).
Make big clean-ups fun.
Play music, throw in some dance moves, and do it together as a family. I like to verbally share a list of a few jobs so that everyone can pick one, and then we all get down to business while listening to two or three songs. That’s about ten minutes of four people cleaning (two adults and two kids… unfortunately the baby can’t take over any jobs yet) which adds up to the house looking a lot better than when we started. If one job is “bigger” (like cleaning the whole back deck) then we share the job so that no one feels they are on their own.
Keep realistic expectations.
I first learned this with my husband: being disappointed that someone doesn’t clean the way you do will not encourage them to help out again. Basically if the kids (or my hubby) do a job in a different way to me, I try to bite my tongue. If I notice they are struggling, I might step in and offer a solution. But usually I just try to be accepting of the fact that everyone does things differently and also remember that cleaning efficiently takes practice. The more they do, the better they will get. There’s no one right way to do most things, anyway.
I also try to do cleaning in very short bursts: a little each day instead of a massive clean-up on the weekend. I find everyone is a lot happier to do 10 minutes five days a week than a full hour on Saturday morning. Plus that means we can enjoy a relatively clean home all week long.
Do your kids enjoy cleaning? Do you? How do you make it a positive experience in your household?
I was sent a Dyson V6 to to review for this post. To find out more about advertisement on my website please click here.
My sister has this one and she LOVES it! Great tips about cleaning too!
Chelsea Lee Smith
Thanks Kelly! I think whoever has a Dyson loves it 🙂
Kate - The Craft Train
Fantastic ideas Chelsea, I am always looking for ways to get the kids to help with the housework that doesn’t involve money or getting cranky! Short bursts of everybody helping out sounds doable.
Chelsea Lee Smith
Thanks – and YES a little bit makes a big difference, especially if it’s done often enough!