You get up in the middle of the night for a drink of water (don’t laugh…it could happen!) You approach the top of the stairs…and that’s when you feel it. That sharp pain in the tender arch of your right-foot. You’ve just stepped on a Matchbox car. Not the smooth roofed camaro, but the tow truck, with the pointy-uppy thing (clinical term) that carries the cars. As you pick your foot up to survey the damage, you lose your balance. That’s when you fall down the stairs, bumping and banging every part of your body along your journey. Does it sound like a scene from the movie Home Alone?
The solution to this is not to avoid water after bedtime. It’s to teach your kids to pick up after themselves. Not just because it saves you a trip to the ER and a bruised ego. Getting kids to help with household chores is an important part of them growing up. Kids want to feel needed, and they have to know that their contribution matters. Getting kids to help with clean-up is a great way to do that. It also prepares them for the future, when picking up after oneself is a daily must.
Here are 5 tips to help get the dusters dusting.
A great way to start the process is by doing things together. Leading by example helps you connect with them, and makes them part of something. Kids love having choices. Give them choices like would they rather pick up blocks, or put the books away?
Make sure that the job you’re assigning is appropriate for their age-group. You’re not going to send your 4 year-old in to clean the bathroom and expect any kind of results. Maybe your younger helpers empty the little trash can into the big one and put the towels in the laundry hamper, while the older kids clean the sink.
Make clean-up time a normal part of a daily or weekly routine. Everyone makes the mess, so everyone is expected to help clean up. If it’s expected of them, chances are they will be more mindful during playtime to ensure things don’t get quite as messy. Make sure that goals are set for when the task needs to be completed, and follow through with consequences if they are not.
Following around your child and pointing out the spots they missed vacuuming won’t make them do it better. Encouragement will. It’s not about how well of a job they do, but the fact that they are doing the job to begin with. You have plenty of time to help them hone their cleaning skills. Getting them in the habit of helping is your primary objective.
I’ve found that telling my 4 year-old twins to clean up the playroom seems like an overwhelming obstacle. If I tell one to pick up the legos, and another to pick up the cars, it breaks the large job down into steps. They know they can accomplish each step separately, and it doesn’t seem like such a large job when presented that way.
Whatever your method of enlisting helpers, setting them up for success now will ensure that they are successful in the future!
What chores do you have your twins do around the house?