You’re all in this together – so why not let the kiddos help spring clean your home? Cleaning (and chores in general) can be a great way to learn responsibility, self reliance, collaboration and more. While younger members of the family can’t do heavy-duty work, they can manage some age-appropriate tasks. And getting them involved early will help encourage carryover of these habits into adolescence and adulthood.
How to get kids to do chores
1. Let them organize their toys
Kids of all ages can help organize their belongings. “Parents know that even when you try to keep the toys in an isolated area, they wind up everywhere. To make toy organization and consolidation more fun, have your child help you pick out a new toy bin (even if it's just picking the color of a boring container!),” says Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
Give them control in deciding how the toys will be organized. For example, where do they think is the best place to put the cars and trucks versus the Legos? Once they’re on board, have them search the house to collect items and deliver them to their proper new place.
2. Show them how to clean doors and windows
This is a good task for kids who tend to be neat or tidy, because you know they're less likely to miss a spot! Plus, it isn’t too grueling or labor intensive, consisting mostly of small areas that aren’t hard to reach.
3. Give them props
Let your kids dress up and use their imaginations to make cleaning more fun. Supply a dusting wand, for example, that they can creatively swipe on different surfaces.
“They might have fun seeing dust magically stick to the wand and clean the bottoms and sides of bookshelves and furniture,” Jones notes. If they feel as though it’s a game or a different form of playtime, they’ll be more interested (and maybe even eager!) to participate.
4. Have them help clean the fridge
Kids definitely can help in the kitchen. One area that’s good to begin with is the refrigerator. “You can put them in charge of checking expiration dates, or have them guess which containers should be recycled, composted or thrown away,” Jones says.
Once you teach them what should go where, they’ll be on their way to helping you keep the contents of your fridge fresh and organized all the time.
5. Encourage them with a toddler cleaning kit
Yes, you can get even the youngest kids involved in cleaning. Just make it fun and personalized!
“Set toddlers up for spring cleaning success next year. My toddler was always mimicking us when we wiped down the counter or were vacuuming so we decided to get him a toddler cleaning kit. At 2 years old, with some assistance, he is great at sweeping into the dust pan,” says Jones.
6. Host a fashion show
Want to spring clean closets and get rid of old clothes? Have a fashion show, where the kids try on what they’ve got. Place bags or boxes in sight, and let them separate items into things to keep, toss or donate.
“Hold a family fashion show with music for your kids as they go through their drawers and closet to determine what clothes still fit and what need to be stored or donated,” she says. It will feel like a dress-up game, while also encouraging their independence. (It’s also a fun activity to do together to productively pass the time on a rainy or weekend afternoon.)
“Then, you can take them with you to donate so they can see how they are helping those who are less fortunate than them,” Jones adds. This helps teach kids how they can make a positive impact on others’ lives and contribute to the greater good. Perhaps they will even be inspired to find other ways they can help to give back.
7. Have them organize their books
Let kids create a fancy “library” in your home, with their own display of nicely organized books. “For kids who are old enough, have them collect books that may be all over the house (and maybe even in the car) and alphabetize them on their book shelf,” Jones suggests.
“If they notice books that are well under their reading level (‘for babies’), they can leave them in a separate pile for siblings, cousins or donation,” she says.
And then you can take a trip to the bookstore to stock up on some new material to read and add back to the shelves. They’ll love the reward for a job well done.