Creating Cleaning Routines with Your Kids
Looking to have a cleaning routine that your kids help with? It can be hard to find the best ways to have your kids help around the house without getting in the way. Know that the work we do to equip and teach our kids now will help them become better adults (and take away some of our stress!)
Still to this day, I can remember the sounds of Motown Classics playing on the radio on Saturday mornings. Waking up to this sound was the dreaded signal that our mornings would be filled with dusting, vacuuming, and cleaning. My brother and I had our routines and we knew them well.
Growing up, I thought the routines and processes my mother had in place were crazy. Today, I absolutely love them and even have modified them to create my own system. It’s helped me create a 3 part cleaning system that not only gets your kids helping you around the house, but teaches them skills that will last a lifetime.
Having a house with 8 children can get a little bit messy! The amount of dishes, dirty socks, and sticky tables is enough to make anyone want to pull their hair out. My anxiety levels rise to the highest heights when my house is a wreck. It doesn’t mean that our house is spotless. That would be a gross exaggeration. Our house is definitely lived in! I just admitted that the task of keeping the house clean could not be left to me. We believe in getting everyone involved, because we all live there. My general rule of thumb is, If the child is old enough to make the mess, they are old enough to be a part of a system to learn to clean.
Over the years, I have tried many systems and chore charts to help me teach my kids about chores. The majority of them focused on ways to remind my kids to do their chores. Stickers, charts, calendars, apps, there are tons of ways to REMIND your kids. However, I realized I wanted something more than just reminding my children when to do their chore. I wanted a system that gave them essential life skills and taught them HOW to do their chore.
But maybe you’ve had these thoughts in your head…
It is so much easier to clean without my kids!
I don’t want my kids exposed to cleaning products.
They aren’t going to do it right.
These are common reasons many moms don’t get their kids involved with the cleaning process. I get it. Honestly, I do. The thought of leaving my kids unattended to clean an area or the entire house was enough to make the hairs on my neck stand up. However, I promise, the reward comes in the work you put in upfront.
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Teach Your Kids to Do Chores Around the House
Show Them! Support Them! Send Them on Their Way! Is not designed for parents who want a quick fix to getting chores done or the house cleaned. There is work involved and it takes time for kids to really learn how to clean, but once they have mastered it, Holy Moly! You will find your cleaning process to be much simpler.
Setting Up Your Kids to Do Chores
Before you can even begin to show your kids how to clean, the first step is to separate your house or chores into zones. In our house, we have four children who are responsible for four zones. As a homeschool family, our house hot spots are the kitchen, dining room (which is our school room), the living room, and our bathrooms. These four spaces are the most used and can be perfectly straight to looking like a tornado hit them in under 5 minutes.
After selecting your zones, come up with a list of tasks that are needed to clean each zone that can be completed in under 15 minutes. The tasks on this list should be thought out and when they are completed and followed properly, the assigned zone is considered “clean” according to whatever standard you have in your home. It is easy to just say, “Ok, I know what needs to be done.” or “I will just tell my kids what needs to be done.”
It may seem a little cumbersome, but WRITE THE STEPS DOWN! It will save you a ton of time later and it will serve as a checklist for your kiddos when completing the task independently. Do you want to take it a step further? Snap a photo of your zone when it is clean.
The next step is to gather all of the supplies that are needed to clean each zone. In my house, I find it easier to purchase multiple bottles of the same product so that each zone has its own supplies. This eliminates excuses such as, “I couldn’t do the mirrors because (insert sibling name) had the glass cleaner.” Now, don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean you have to have multiple vacuum cleaners. It just means, having a caddy with the necessary wipes, products, etc. in one bin already in the zone will set your kiddos up for success. In addition to the cleaning caddy for each zone, print and laminate the cleaning checklist you already created and place it with your supplies or you can even hang it up in the zone. Did you take a picture? Put it in your caddy or hang it in your zones.
Lastly, determine a cleaning rotation for your house. How often does each zone need to be cleaned? Several times a day? Daily? Weekly? Twice a week? Make the rotation based on what works best for your house. Don’t set yourself up by creating an unrealistic schedule or unrealistic expectations.
Feel free add in some fun incentives! Allow kids to earn badges or certificates based on their accomplishments. Cleaning the house may sound like a dreaded thing to your kids. It’s important to remind your kids of the reasons they are being asked to keep the house clean, how much you appreciate them for being a part of the process, and celebrate them for mastering each zone.
Here comes the real work!
Show Your Kids How to Do Chores
The first part of the system is to just show your kids how to clean. Make sure you first assign each kid a zone for a designated period. In our house, my kiddos will shadow me for one week while I clean their assigned zone. So in reality, if you have four zones, your kids will be shadowing you as you clean for four weeks. I told you this wasn’t a quick fix!
During the cleaning session, give your kiddo the checklist you created. Have them observe you as you perform each step. Allow them to ask questions and ask them questions, such as “Why are we using this product for this area? Or How do we safely use this product? Each of these questions gets them thinking of the “why” behind the cleaning and not just trying to rush through. Remind your kiddo that the zone should take no more than 15 minutes. (If you went over 15 minutes, it should only be because you were explaining and dialoguing).
Support Your Kids As They Learn Chores
Once your shadow week is over, it’s time for the kids to start cleaning. Unfortunately, you are still not off the hook. In our house, we believe it is necessary for our kids to master an area. We decided that we would rather have them master the zone than have to constantly go back and clean up after them. We usually stay on this step for about two weeks. If you find that one of your kids has mastered their zone while the other has not, let the other kids switch and continue your rotation. Put the child struggling in their zone back in the rotation once they mastered their zone.
If you don’t have time to do it right, you must have time to do it over!
I love this phrase because it sets the expectation that trying to rush through their zone is not going to fly. I have been known for calling my kids in from playing because they half-heartedly cleaned their zone in an effort to go outside.
It may sound too tough for some, but getting called in from playing or made to turn off their video game a few times is enough to get the job done right.
During Support Them! your job is to shadow them while they are cleaning their zone. Make sure they are set up for success by making sure they have their supplies, the checklist, and even the photo of the cleaned zone, if you took one. Now sit back and observe! Do your best to keep your mouth closed and refrain from criticizing while they are cleaning. If you find they missed a step, gently remind them. Your child should not feel stressed out or afraid of failing to clean properly. Use this time to encourage them and use words of affirmation! Sayings such as, “ You are doing a great job!” “Wow! I love how clean you got that!” will go much further than a criticizing them for not doing it right.
Challenge your child to effectively clean their zone in 15 minutes or less. If the cleaning process is taking longer than that, it is possible that a second person is needed because the zone is too large or they are taking too long on a specific task.
Send Them on Their Way!
You have successfully showed your kids how to clean their assigned zone. If your child has mastered their zone, you will be able to tell during this step. Your child should know when they are expected to clean their zone. This is a great time to use a chore chart, app, or rotation calendar that is visible for everyone. It will help to get rid of the famous unwanted house guest named, “I Don’t Know.”
When it is time for zone cleaning, send your child on their way. You have already given them the skills and tools needed to clean their zone based on your standards and expectations. Just make sure you go back and check their work. Every child makes mistakes and some will even try to cut corners. Use this time to encourage your child to clean their zone properly. This is a great time to instill the incentives and rewards that were mentioned.
If you have multiple zones and multiple children, you will walk through each of the three steps over and over. It may seem like you are still doing all of the cleaning. Actually, it will feel that way for a while. That is perfectly okay. You are doing more than creating a quick system. You are giving your children skills they will use for a lifetime.
Show Them! Support Them! Send Them on Their Way! Is a great way to lay some of life’s foundational skills. The system can work with even your younger kiddos. There are tons of age appropriate charts that give examples of chores that can be completed by various age groups. The system works great and helps our crazy and quirky family of 8!
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Guest Post by Christel Brewer of Perfectly Blended and Blessed.
Christel Brewer is a wife and homeschooling mother of 8 beautiful blessings. She is no stranger to knowing the importance of understanding one’s unique self. Born shortly after the passing of her father, becoming a young mother while in college, and struggling as a single mother of five children, she uses her life experiences as the foundation for her workshops.
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