Kids and housework don’t always go together.
BUT here are my top 5 tips for getting little ones involved in keeping things neat and tidy at home!
Toddlers and small children are itching to help out with housework and are really happy when they are invited to ‘to a job’. But give them a job that they can complete easily – for toddlers that might mean putting away their toys; helping to sort washing into darks and lights before they go in the machine and putting out placemats for meal time. Rather than using a clock – use music to motivate. Put on the radio and ask the kids to complete their ‘job’ before the song finishes – if they do take a break and dance together! Another thing kids respond well to is grouping tasks into colours and objects: ‘Pick up all of the purple cars’ or after dinner ‘Take the plates to the dishwasher’.
Small children can’t work their hands like a mummy or daddy can so making the bed might mean pulling the doona to the top of the bed rather than a complete remake each morning! Be proud of what they can do; leave expectations of perfection at the door and never redo their work. If you are constantly redoing their ‘jobs’ they’ll soon learn to leave it to mum! And if there’s a job you have strong feelings about keep it for yourself and assign your little one a task that you aren’t all that fussy about!
Hmmmm – I learned this one the hard way; try giving one, simple instruction at a time. My eldest child was completely overwhelmed when I asked him to clean up his room. I left him for 20 minutes and when I returned he was sitting on the floor reading a book; the room untouched. I realised he needed some clear tasks to get started like ‘Put away your books’ and ‘Take your dirty clothes to the laundry’. After a few days of walking him through things he learned to complete this job on his own and can be left to do it on his own.
For anyone with littlies who aren’t reading yet – just stick a picture of the object on the box where it lives. This works for toys, papers, books and clothing! The simple visual reminder gives little ones some control over what, when and how they clean up. And it stops the need for an adult to remind them ‘where things live’.
Keep toys under control by storing them in covered containers, bins or boxes. If the lid doesn’t close – they’ll know pretty quickly that they have too many toys. This then means, it’s time to give some toys away. It sounds harsh but it will help them to develop organisational and charity skills at an early age. And it may even ease them into living a clutter free life down the track.