Are you struggling to get your kids to clean? This post has a few pointers to help you out!
I haven’t met a single parent yet who hasn’t struggled with getting their kids to clean up. It doesn’t come naturally to a child, does it? Devastation and destruction do. But not very often do you find a child who tidied up after themselves the moment they came out of the womb.
I know that if I were Sleeping Beauty’s mother and those three fairies were bestowing gifts upon my child, I’d ask one of them to give her the gift of picking up after herself! That’s what every parent wants, right? Or is that just me?
Speaking of gifts, make sure you grab my Speed Cleaning Checklist here!:
Now, as I write this post, I’m in the thick of it. I have three relatively young children (aged from 3 to 11 years old) and we’re home every day because we homeschool.
Being home every day with three kids means that our home is never catalogue-perfect. Not even for five minutes! But as Roseanne Barr once said:
Excuse the mess, but we live here.
That being said, I wouldn’t (nor would my kids) be able to get anything done in our homeschool or in my work if we lived in a constant state of chaos. So in order to be productive, we’ve had to keep a general sense of order in our home.
That means daily chores and regular pickups throughout the day. And no one is exempt. Not even Baby Boo who is 3 years old. He’s gotta pull his weight too! So…
How do you get kids to clean?
It starts with the parent
Mama (or papa), that means you. If you want to get your kids to clean, you’ve got to know why you want them to do it.
Do you want them to develop good habits for when they’re adults? Or do you want them to keep their things in order so they don’t lose things and spend more money on replacing something that you know is somewhere in the house but you can’t find? Do you want them to not be a burden to their future spouse?
Whatever your reason for getting your kids to clean, you’ve got to be clear about it. And it has to be a good enough reason to pull you (the ever-patient parent) through the dark times that child rearing brings.
Because, let me tell you, when you’re repeating yourself for the thousandth time and you’re about to throw in the towel and just do it yourself because it’ll be faster and better, you need to remember why you want your kids to clean in the first place.
So, my lovely, it starts with you.
Be patient and don’t expect perfection
Getting our kids to clean is a marathon journey. I wish it weren’t, but the truth is, you and I are gonna need to remind our kids a lot to tidy up and pick up after themselves. We’ve got to not grow weary in instructing them. And this is where the job of training our kids actually feels like a job.
No parent I know wants to sound like a broken record. But repetition is part of the course if you want your child to learn how to clean.
There are ways that we can reduce how frequently we repeat ourselves. Rewards and consequences play a big role in that regard. But with rewards and consequences, whatever they are, you’ve got to be consistent in giving them. It’s no use to say that you’ll give your child a reward for doing all their chores for the week and then another week rolls on without them receiving it. They’ll lose the incentive to do the job or to do a good job.
I’d also say that the younger your child, the less you should expect a professional job. As your child gets older and especially after they’ve done a particular chore many times, you can start expecting a better performance of that job.
My seven-year-old likes to wash the dishes (mainly because she likes playing with water!). I’m not expecting the dishes to be perfect when she’s done. On the other hand, I do expect my eleven-year-old to do a good job with the dishes because she’s older and has been washing dishes for years.
Use your discretion with your kids. Always start with a lot of patience and don’t expect perfection at the start. Training our kids to clean takes years, so play the long game.
Work alongside them and give them a plan
My kids always clean more enthusiastically when I join in with the chores too. It’s kinda like kids in the classroom misbehaving as soon as the teacher walks out the door. And then quickly shuffling to their seats and their books when the door handle turns and the teacher walks in!
If you want your kids to clean – especially at the beginning, you’ll need to work alongside them. Not only are my kids happier to do chores (especially with some cleaning music!), but they can watch me clean too. They see how I scrub, polish and dust. And it’s easier for them to imitate me when they’ve seen how it’s done.
It’s also highly motivating for kids to know that there is an end to the chores. When they have a small list of a few items to complete, they work with less complaining than if you were to say “Tidy up the room”.
Why? Because the general ‘tidy up the room’ command seems never ending. Especially to a young child. How can they know when that task is done? And can you imaging telling a child that they’ll be doing a never-ending chore? Their response will be something similar to this:
Yes, one of my kids literally falls on the floor if they think a job is too big!
But when the instructions are clear and there’s a definitive end to the cleaning, you’ll find they’ll work faster just to get it over and done with!
And be sure to grab my instructions for getting your house clean in just 2 hours right here:
Make cleaning a part of life
This is probably the biggest point of all. If you take anything away from this blog post, let it be this: make cleaning a part of your child’s life.
Mike Murdoch said;
Truly, the small cleaning jobs that your child does on a regular and daily basis, will have a bigger impact on their ability and desire to clean than if you were to make them tidy their room once a month.
How can you make cleaning a part of your child’s life? Get them involved with the daily meals. Perhaps they can set or clear the table every day. Maybe they can do a 5-minute floor pickup in the evening in the same room of your house. Make it their own room, why not?
Small, daily tasks that become a part of life are more transformative in your child’s character than a one-off bigger job like organising their closet.
What’s your biggest struggle?
When it comes to getting your kids to clean or tidy up, what’s the biggest problem you face? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email and let me know! I personally respond to every comment and email.