Tidy house, tidy mind.
As Mary Poppins once famously said, “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” And that, Mamas, is exactly how to get kids more involved in cleaning – by turning it into a fun game rather than a “But why do I have to?!” By instilling positive feelings towards a clean and tidy home from a young age, children can learn numerous benefits by keeping their space clean; discipline for one and harmony in the home another (plus it’ll come in handy when it’s time for them to set up their own pad!).
Along with learning a sense of accomplishment, teamwork and responsibility, getting the kids to help with age-appropriate activities (for example, tasks no longer than 10 to 15 minutes for smaller ones so as not to lose their attention) also encourage independence. To get you started, try these six tips to make spring cleaning with the kids something to look forward to.
We’re sure the Sassy Mama team aren’t the only ones who’ll remember that familiar phrase “No TV until you’ve finished washing the dishes!” (and the frustrated feelings that come from hearing it). Associating chores with a parent nagging can add to any possible feelings of resistance, so the answer is simple: eliminate your voice from the tasks at hand.
Use some of the fun ideas in the next few slides, or add some of your own, to try setting a daily or weekly checklist or easy to read schedule, so children can see that tasks are evenly distributed and fair.
How to: There are a wealth of templates online, but you can easily make your own if you’d prefer. For inspiration (for example, tasks for different age ranges, or ready-made printables), try the online DIY and crafts website The Spruce Crafts. Once you have your visuals, attach them to the fridge or notice board so everyone can see and tick off their actions (stickers are a fun way to mark complete tasks).
Don’t forget to reward your kids if all chores have been completed. Perhaps by giving small weekly rewards, or learn that patience is a virtue by waiting until the end of the month for a larger prize (day trip to Disney or Ocean Park, picnic at the beach, favourite dinner, or a trip to the cinema perhaps?).
Unlike the familiar carpet in our respective home countries (well, in the UK anyway), floors in Hong Kong tend to be fuzz-free hardwood, tiled or laminate which just begs to be used for skidding about on! But this also means large surfaces that are magnets for dust. Of course, we’re not condoning this to be done unsupervised, but this activity will definitely get the kid’s blood pumping! Just make sure any sharp edges or breakables are well protected.
How to: Grab the knee or elbow pads just in case if you’re really concerned, but all you need is a pair of fluffy socks, floor polish (or whichever cleaner is needed, providing it’s non-toxic) and a lot of energy. Have a competition to see who can collect the largest dust-bunnies with their feet. Ready, set, slide!
Read more: 7 Simple Steps To Natural Home Cleaning
A great one for younger kids, but also adaptable to your teens, this activity will have your children’s storybook collection looking more organised than the public library. You can also use this method for CD or magazine collections (if you still have them).
How to: Depending on your child’s age, have them sort books into alphabetical order. You can decide whether to go for the author’s name or the name of the story, but it’s a great task to help children learn their alphabet – as well as patience!
A variation of this for younger children is to store items in the cupboard by size. Try stacking food containers or pots and pans inside each other, or even sorting books and magazine by height (stacking or standing on a shelf).
Read more: Our Top Book Picks By Age: From 4 To 14+
This fun activity will take you back to your school days. No matter if you loved or loathed sports class, you’ll definitely get a kick out of this version as you see tasks getting done fast – with the added benefit of keeping fit at the same time! Ideal for kids of all ages, including parents who find it hard to get to the gym.
How to: Make a pack of cleaning cards with tasks such as “vacuum the living room”, “make your bed”, “clean the bathtub”, “load the washing machine”, “put your clothes away” etc. Then have family members each pick a card (or even a couple). Grab a timer (you could use your phone) and a whistle, and decide who will start their task first, then who will be second and third etc. Have each person take their place and shout “go!” while pressing the timer.
Once the first person has completed their errand they have to “tag” the next for them to start and so on. Once all tasks are finished, blow the whistle and see how long it took. If all was completed within your set time frame, then the team gets a group reward.
An alternative version of this is to have two people run tasks alongside each other. Whoever completes theirs fastest wins.
Cranking up the stereo with your favourite tunes is always a great way to get the endorphins pumping, but why not also make it part of the cleaning routine? This can be done with most chores but we’ll use dusting as an example. As for the perfect song, how about Queen, “Another One Bites the Dust”? (Sorry, we couldn’t resist!)
How to: While you’re all busy dusting away (using non-toxic cleaning spray of course), have your favourite tunes playing alongside. Every now and then press pause on the music and, when that happens, everyone has to freeze (just like musical statues)!
Have a sticker chart to hand with each child’s name listed, whoever gets to five stars first wins a little prize. Just don’t “freeze” for too long otherwise you’ll be at it all afternoon! (Did you know there’s already music to clean by playlists online?)
Let’s face it, sorting clean socks into pairs and putting them away is probably one of the most tedious jobs to do. So take away the boredom factor and inject a little fun! Similar to the relay race instructions, why not have a race to see who can pair the most socks within a set time-frame?
How to: Set your stopwatch to 30-seconds or one minute, and see how many pairs of socks your cleaning ninjas can fold in this time. Don’t forget to blow the whistle when the clock runs down! Stopwatch races can be adapted to most tasks (especially when folding clean washing by type), with just one child (or more) to add a sense of healthy competition. Let’s just hope there are no sore losers in your household.