Cleaning; a bone of contention in almost every household. Throw children into the mix and it becomes even more of a hot topic… Parents are always told to lead by example and to think of ways to make cleaning fun for their kids, but we think it’s fair to say that it is far easier said than done. We're here to give you with a handful of ideas to help get you on the right track!
Game 1: Commercial Cleaners!
No one likes watching commercials on television, but they are unfortunately a necessary evil in the broadcasting world. With this game you might be able to use those dreaded short breaks to your advantage. Use the duration of the commercials as timers for the kids to go clean up designated areas. The goal is to get them to properly clean up a specific area or number of toys before the show comes back on. The small timeframe keeps the tasks manageable and the fear of missing the show when it comes back on is a great incentive for kids.
Kids love a little bit of competition, especially when it comes to impressing their parents! You can use this to your advantage by setting up cleaning challenges for them. This way their mind is drawn to the competitive aspect of the task and not the cleaning itself. The aim of the game is to keep your kids happy and your house clean, not to leave the younger ones feeling frustrated!
Game 2: Clean up boogie!
This is one that is being used in classrooms all around the world with great success, and if it works in a classroom full of kids, surely it can help out at home as well! Find a song that they enjoy and turn it into their cleaning theme tune. Have a little dance, do a little cleaning, and they will have cleaned up without even realising it. If you want to add a little urgency, make it a race to finish before the song ends!
Pro Tip: Combine positive and negative reinforcement
Bribery is perhaps the most basic of incentives and can often be effective (within reason). Of course, we don’t want you to bankrupt yourselves trying to get your kids to clean! Often times, however, the promise of a reward doesn’t do quite enough to get them cleaning. This is why we suggest a combined approach of positive and negative reinforcements. If you say "you’ll get X if you clean up your toys", that still leaves them with the option of not doing it and simply not receiving the reward. On the other hand, if you add in the stipulation, "and if you don’t, then you won’t be able to do X", they are now confronted with a tougher choice. Do it and receive a reward, or don’t and receive a punishment… Try it out and see if the added risk in the equation makes a difference!
Game 3: Colour cleaners!
This game is ideal for younger children who might not quite have understood the concept of cleaning yet. You can make it your own, but the core idea is very simple: Task them with finding a toy of a certain colour that is out of place, then put it back where it belongs. For younger children, we suggest having them bring one toy at a time back to you, so that you can check to see if it fits the designated criteria before putting them away. This activity helps clean up the house and teaches children their colours!
To finish up, an easy way to start leading by example is to avoid complaining about cleaning around your children. If, from a young age, your children hear you do nothing but complain while cleaning (or about having to clean), they will then inevitably start to associate this negativity with their feelings towards cleaning. After all, why wouldn’t they? The grown-ups seem to hate it, so it must be bad. We are not saying that you should whistle while you work, but try to keep the negativity to a minimum, at least when the kids are in earshot!
So, there you have it, our list of tips and tricks to try and make cleaning into something the kids enjoy, as opposed to dread! If you have any games or techniques of your own that you would like to share please do let us know, we love to hear from our readers!