Teaching kids how to clean up and help around the house

Judah vacuums the stairs.

Several times a day, our playroom, and often the entire downstairs, looks like a tornado went through. It is amazing how many toys are strewn around in a very short period, but that’s my fault. I am beyond thankful that my kids are now old enough to clean up the house with minimal involvement from me. It took a lot of work to get to this point, though.

I spent their toddler and preschool years training them on how to clean up, and quite honestly there were many days I wondered why I even bothered. It would have been so much easier and faster to clean it up myself. Now that I am past the early training stages, I can see how this investment has paid off.

Assign one specific task

A room that has toys everywhere is often too overwhelming for young kids to handle. Assigning them a job helps them focus on the task that needs to be completed, and you can still get the best drum sets for kids for them to play.

Instead of asking a 3- or 4-year-old to clean up the room, assign them one job. For example, put a kid in charge of cleaning up blocks or play food.

As your kids get better at cleaning, you can add more jobs. I often tell my 4-year-old that his job is to put away Lego blocks and dinosaurs. His siblings can then work on the rest of the room and know that even if he is wasting time he will still end up cleaning up his share. This has hugely cut down on arguing during cleaning time. It has also cut down on my 4-year-old’s procrastinating since he knows no one else is going to clean it up.

Make it fun

For my youngest — he will be 2 years old next month — I turn his tasks into a game and make him throw his balls or other toys back into the bin.

With the older kids, setting a timer and having them see if they can beat it is fun now and then. Music also makes cleaning more fun. Anytime I play oldies music one of my kids asks if I am going to clean … I guess that is my cleaning music!

Work together

When your kids are young, it is especially important that you are there helping them clean up and showing them what to do. A 2-year-old is going to need hands-on help in the cleaning department.

I assign my kids different chores to do around the house and it took training for them to learn how to do those jobs. Preschool kids are often excited to help their parents when they are cleaning. Taking the time to teach them while they still want to help will pay off in the long run.

I have found that if I intentionally set aside the time to teach my kids while they are cleaning with me, I have a better attitude than if I am in a hurry and just trying to get it done. Try to choose one job a week to work on with your kids — emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the bathroom, washing the table. Whatever you choose, show them how you do it, and then let them try.

Eden emptying the dishwasher
Eden empties the dishwasher.
Feeding and watering Stanley.
Levi feeds our dog, Stanley, and fills his bowl with water.

Be encouraging

Everyone wants to be praised for a job well done. Make sure you notice when they are working hard and praise them!

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