Getting your kids involved with tidiness

In the fast pace of modern life, keeping up with work and family can often make it hard to keep up with the house. When just one person is tasked with food preparation and cleaning, it is often overwhelming. However, there are ways to get your kids involved with tidiness and housecleaning that will not only help save you time and keep your house clean, but will also encourage excellent habits in your kids that will serve them well in their adult life.

Kids may not enjoy doing chores – really, who does – but with the right incentives, you can get your kids involved in household tidiness. It is best to start when kids are young, and even very small children can learn little tasks that contribute to the overall tidiness in a house. Toddlers can be taught that tidiness can be fun. Encourage them to put away their toys. Young siblings can make it into a game by seeing who can finish first and you can add to the game element by putting pictures on toy boxes or toy baskets so the kids can visually see where the items go. Show younger children how to toss their clothes into kid-sized hampers. Visual, colorful charts that show the children what chores they need to do, with markers that show when the chore is complete, can help reinforce that participating in household tidiness is fun.

Pre-schoolers, once they are tall enough, can make their own beds each morning. If parents set up bed making as a daily expectation for a child early on, it is more likely this chore will be carried on into teen years as well. Kids this age can also reliably put clothing away, as long as the drawers are within reach. Again, pictures on the outsides or insides of drawers can help kids determine the right place to put away their clean laundry. Elementary-age children can almost always reliably make their beds and as they get older, more tasks can be added as they help with household tidiness. Once again, depending on height, these children can empty dishwashers and put away dishes, wipe up counters in their bathrooms, hang up their own clothing, and run vacuum cleaners and sweepers. Parents are the best judges of the age-appropriateness of any chore, but it is best to leave anything that involves potentially dangerous household machinery, like a washing machine, or toxic cleaner until the child is older.

Junior high and high school kids, as they become busier with school activities and part-time jobs, may need more incentives than younger kids to do household chores. This is an excellent time to create chore lists that are tied to allowances or amounts paid per task completed. Kids this age are able to do much more safely that contributes to household tidiness, like wash and dry loads of laundry, help clean up after meals, and do deeper cleaning that involves chemicals smaller kids should not handle.

If you start young, make it fun and then later make it profitable for your kids to be involved in household tidiness, you’ll set habits that kids are more likely to follow later in life and your house will be much tidier for your efforts.

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