Spring—outside is beautiful, but your house? Not so much. It’s time to spring clean, but are your kids making it difficult? Here are five tricks to spring cleaning with kids.
According to the experts at Verywell Family, children learn important life skills by doing chores. They learn time management, how to keep things clean long-term, and how to take care of the stuff they own. However, not only does it help them grow into self-reliant adults, it also benefits them psychologically. Research shows that chores, whether they’re daily or spring cleaning tasks, help kids feel more satisfied with life and can even improve their test scores.
If you assign your kids chores, get ready for them to be more social, self-confident, and driven. Just watch their grades soar. Basically, spring cleaning will give your kids the tools they need to be successful in the future.
It sounds great, doesn’t it? But every parent knows that getting kids to actually clean is easier said than done.
In a kid’s world, everything is a distraction. That toy they forgot about? Distraction. Their favorite Saturday cartoon? Distraction. Absolutely anything other than cleaning? Distraction!
Everything’s funner than cleaning, Mom!
Even some adults find spring cleaning boring. ( . . . Guilty as charged . . . )
So let’s bring cleaning into their exciting world with these five tricks to spring cleaning with kids. Spring cleaning has never been “funner!”
1. Let Them Choose
Yes, I know, letting kids choose doesn’t exactly sound “fun,” but hear me out. Most parents stress themselves out trying to control all the spring cleaning activities. They make lists and assign people jobs and run around like chickens to make sure everyone is on task. How not fun!
Why would you take the whole responsibility when kids love to make decisions? They soak up any autonomy you shower them with, so let them wear the boss pants. Walk around the house with them and ask them what they think needs to be cleaned. Let them pick what tasks they want to do for the day. If you want them to get rid of stuff, let them choose what and where they donate.
They’ll have fun being the adult with minimal supervision, and you’ll have fun getting your own chores done and kicking back.
To pick chores that are appropriate for your kids’ ages, check out the list of chores organized by age in the article “Spring Cleaning for Kids, by Age.”
2. Take Breaks Often
Although it’s tempting to get everything done at once, nobody can clean all day with no breaks. Especially kids. We’ve already talked about how kids find all the distractions when they’re doing something not fun. If you want to keep them from stopping every five minutes to do something other than cleaning, take a lot of breaks.
You can set a schedule if you’d like. Clean for twenty minutes, then play for ten. When you hear the music, drop everything and dance! Or you can play it by ear. If your kid has unearthed a toy from its resting place of three years, give them five minutes to play with it, and then they have to get back to work. Whenever your kid finishes a job, tell them to come get a snack or play a game.
Don’t worry, Mom and Dad. You can do it too!
3. Find the Element of Fun
As Mary Poppins wisely said, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and snap! The job’s a game.”
Whether you play music so that cleaning becomes a live musical or turn cleaning into a race, there’s something for everyone. You can draw soapy artwork with foam cleaners, play with the hoses while washing windows, or play pretend and act out a drama with your family. Just turn everything into a game, and cleaning will be infinitely more fun.
You might need a magnifying glass to see the fun in spring cleaning, but it’s there. I promise!
4. Bribe Them with Treats
While we don’t condone bribery, per se, you can’t deny that a reward is the best motivator. If your kids are being particularly prickly, you might find it to your benefit to give them a sweet treat. You can promise to go get ice cream or watch a movie after cleaning. Or maybe they need a few treats throughout the whole process to keep them going (I sure do). Or if your kids already have plans for the day, you can tell them that they have to finish cleaning first.
Sometimes the only path up the hill is chocolate.
5. “Spring Clean” All Year Round
Spring cleaning is great and all, but if things start to stack up, it can get overwhelming. The bigger the mountain of chores, the less likely a kid is to do them. Plus, if you only do a big clean once a year, your kid might get out of practice. So we recommend making cleaning a habit and finding ways to keep the clutter down all year round.
This will keep those awesome benefits coming, and it will give you a beautiful house all year. And maybe we’re a bit delusional, but the more often you make cleaning fun, the “funner” it will be, right? (Right??)
For more ways to involve kids in family chores, check out our article “Teaching Family Chores Bit by Bit.”
If you’re looking for ways to make spring cleaning easier for adults, check out our articles “Seven Steps to Clutter Control” and “11 Ways to De-clutter Your Kitchen.”
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Shaelyn Topolovec earned a BA in editing and publishing from BYU, worked on several online publications, and joined the Familius family. Shae is currently an editor and copywriter who lives in California’s Central Valley.