Your little ones are too busy having fun to notice the mess. You’re tired out from cleaning and tidying, but it’s more than possible to get kids helping around the house, and enjoying it.
Underpants on the light fittings, smelly socks under the sofa cushions, splashes of wee on the toilet seat. Dealing with these delights is all in a day’s work for most mums. But it can be exhausting when everybody else in the house is too focused on fun to help out.
We’ve put together 10 stress-free ways to turn your children into helpful little elves.
All children respond differently so give a few of these tips a go and see which ones work for you. Good luck!
Aim low at first
It will be hard for your kids to swing from being the princes and princesses of mess to mother’s little helpers. Your little ones will need time to adapt to any new regime.
Focus on a maximum of two or three very clear set tasks you want them to do, and then gradually grow the list. Good starter tasks might be: tidying their room at the end of the day, taking out the rubbish when it’s full or clearing the dinner table at weekends.
Even this sort of routine might prove tricky to stick too, so take it slow and offer tons of praise when they get it right.
Older children love a choice as it gives them a sense of power and independence.
Allow your kids to choose what they do, whether its dusting the Nintendo or tidying up the breakfast cereal cupboard.
Agree in advance when they will do the chore, and then make them commit to it on a regular basis.
Take it in turns
If you have multiple children, rotate their chores regularly so they don’t get bored or feel any injustice is going on.
After a month of cleaning out the hamster cage, they might find feeding the cat is a welcome relief.
Create a rota
Not all children (or adults) will enjoy this level of army-style regimentation, but it’s one way to avoid fights about who’s doing what. Just don’t forget to check it!
Do things together
Some tasks, like drying up or washing the car, can be boring on your own. Enlisting the children’s help can make it more fun for you, and also teach them about the importance of pitching in.
It can also be a great pocket of time you spend with each other, chatting while completing a task together.
It’s never too soon to start on the road to becoming a domestic god or goddess.
Toddlers can be taught to put books away once they have ‘arranged’ them all over the floor.
They often like using the dust pan and brush or swizzling a duster. Even if it takes much less effort to do it yourself, encourage them to do it and give them the time to try.
There will be rich rewards in the long term!
As they get older, consider pocket money for chores
Some parents feel their children should muck in because they are part of the household, not because they are paid employees.
But for others paying for chores can be a very effective way to motivate tweens and teens.
It can also encourage some entrepreneurial spirit and money-management skills.
Offer a “chore pass”
As a reward for children doing all their jobs and keeping the house tidy, offer them a “chore pass”.
This lets them off any domestic duties for a day. Just make sure your partner or a friend gives you one of these too, you deserve it!
Go on a “picking up stuff” strike
Instead of spending your weekends picking up children’s toys, clothes and pens, challenge yourself to ignore anything that isn’t a health and safety concern.
Those of a tidy disposition will find this technique a little challenging. But by allowing children to notice mess building up they might do something about it.
If they do, it’s a win. If they don’t notice, try a different tack.
You could tell them that whatever is left out overnight will go in the bin, and take out a large black bin bag to show you mean business. Even though you know you won’t the threat alone can spur kids into action!
Don’t impose chores as punishments
Don’t impose chores as punishments for bad behaviour.
This will mean they associate chores with something negative, rather than accepting them as just an ordinary, and sometimes fun, part of life.
If you put some of these tips into action in your house you’ll be well on the way to raising a troop of willing cleaners and tidiers.
Now, where did I put that duster?