Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring Cleaning- Getting the Kids Involved

I so do not want to end up like my mother, calling a "family meeting" once a month to complain about how I am the only one who ever does anything around this house and can't we grow up and clean up after our own messes? And who do we think she is anyway, our maid?

I know my mom is not the only one ever to feel like that, and I have been giving a lot of thought as to how I could do things differently with my kids. I've been asking around both online and in real life and here is the strategy I have come up with.

1. I am starting them out young. They've been responsible for picking up after themselves for a while, but at 5 and almost-4 I have begun to assign them chores that benefit the household. Cheyenne is my dishwasher and Bella is my dish dryer. Bella feeds the cats and Cheyenne is responsible for getting everyone's laundry from their hampers to the laundry room. Both girls help with the dusting. I specifically chose some chores that benefit the entire family, not just them because I want them to get the idea that we are all in this together.

2. I am taking the time to teach them. This is something I wish someone had done with me. My grandma tried, but she wasn't around often enough for it to stick. Cleaning, housekeeping and cooking are skills and kids need guidance. It takes a bit of work upfront, but hopefully it will pay off in the long run.

3. I'm letting go of perfectionism. There is nothing less motivating than making a real, honest effort at doing something new and being criticized for your imperfections. I'm trying to be encouraging.

4. I am not attaching a reward to helping out around the house. As a kid my allowance was based on whether or not I did my chores. As a lazy kid, I often decided I'd rather not clean and forgo the money. The carrot/stick approach was never all that successful with me. I think it would have been more productive to calmly and matter-of-factly let me know what was expected of me as a member of the family. It's worth a shot anyway.

5. Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. If I want this to stick I can't wimp out because I am having a tired day or a bad day. Sure, there are really bad days now and then when stuff won't get done, but overall I need to set the right tone and both demonstrate and expect a certain amount of consistency.

Inspired by this post from the Soulemama blog I made this chore board.

Each kid (including James because I hope to have this board for years to come) has a pocket with cards on it for their daily chores. When the chore is done it is taken from their pocket and put in the "done" pocket. It's like a to-do list, but more effective for my little kinesthetic learners. There is also a pocket for chores that can earn money. This is not in use at the moment, but when they are older I plan to let them earn extra money by doing extra chores, like cleaning out the fridge or changing the oil in the car. OK. Admittedly that last one is a few years off, but someday....


  1. These are all fabulous tips!! I'm working on a post about Spring cleaning with kids.... I'll be linking. Thanks! :-)

  2. Thanks! I am working on a post that will link to your blog too. I love your ideas!

  3. I wanted to let you know that I linked to this post on my weekly roundup. (Came over here via Valerie's post!) My little one is two, so this is just in time to help me get started. Thanks!