Even though summer is right around the corner, there is still time to get your spring cleaning done and to include your kids in the process. Most kids will run in the other direction when they hear the words chores or work, but you can make your cleaning projects more successful with a little planning and preparation.
The first step is to decide what spring cleaning looks like for your family. Are you going to do an all day, top to bottom scouring of your home, or do you want to take it room by room over a longer period? There are plenty of good resources online, like checklists and calendars, that will help you plan and stay organized.
It is easier to start with one area and one task with younger kids, such as cleaning out drawers and closets. These require minimal supplies and are easily adaptable for all ages. If your children are older, have them take the lead on sorting through too small or too warm items for summer. Younger children can help by placing items in piles after you have decided what to keep and what to donate. Do the same in your closets with shoes and coats.
Work your way through different areas of your home, teaching your kids along the way. It is the perfect time to demonstrate new chores and develop new habits. Also, as you sort through toys and old clothing, children learn how to let go of items they no longer need or are broken. It is also a good opportunity to teach them how to donate to local charities or pass down items to family members or friends. Saying goodbye to old toys or favorite clothes can be rough, but it always seems easier to go to someone they know or help others.
The best way to encourage kids to clean is to make the process as fun as possible. That is not always easy, especially with harder projects, but there are fun resources when rallying the kids to help. One of our favorites tools is to use music. Find an upbeat playlist and turn it up to feel more like a dance party than hard work. We have found that the more our kids are singing along, the more they enjoy a project.
Listening to stories or podcasts is another fun way to distract kids while working. You can download free audiobooks through an app affiliated with your local library, and most podcasts are also free on a variety of apps. With hundreds of different podcast options, all focused on teaching children; you are bound to find one that catches your child’s interest and imagination. When kids are focused on a fun topic or story, they are not focused on how much they want to escape chores.
Another option is to make your cleaning project into a game. There are many good ideas and resources on Pinterest that you can print for free, such as Spring Cleaning BINGO and Tic Tac Toe. These take a little bit of preparation, especially if you want to include prizes with the games, but they can be a lot of fun. If you are looking for something even simpler, set a timer and have the kids see how many things they can clean in that time frame. It is amazing how much competition can motivate most children.
New snacks and drinks can also be a good motivator on a long cleaning day. A few years ago, we had family coming to visit and had quite a bit of tidying before they arrived. I bought a few treats that we do not normally buy and set up a little refreshment table in the hallway. Something about adding the treat table made that cleaning day memorable, and we have done it a few more times on long cleaning days.
Finally, working alongside our kids provides a great opportunity to talk. That will not be an issue for little ones who tend to have a running commentary going at all times, but as children grow, it can be harder to have uninterrupted time to talk. Ask your child some questions, and then listen. Talking will distract them from work. It also does not have to be a serious discussion. As you pull out old clothing or toys, talk about fun stories or memories. You may not work as efficiently, but it can be a perfect time to have a good chat.
Making typical chores seem new or fun is the best way to make cleaning with kids easier. These are just a few ideas but have helped our family a lot. Once you have your little helpers ready to go, take advantage of your time together to teach them a few things. Keeping your focus on teaching will help the day seems successful even if you do not get everything on your list completed or clean to your standards.