24. Helpful Kids, Clean Home
" This is a great tool for creating a sense of ownership in your kids from a young age and it also will hopefully save you some time and effort. If your kids aren’t the cleanup-with-a-smile type you may want to try making a game out of the process like competing to see who can clear their bedroom floor more quickly or cleaning up the items by color type."
Parenting is a lot of work. As your kids get older they’re able to help with tasks around the house but sometimes getting them to help becomes a chore unto itself. One idea to combat this is to start them off helping around the house from the very beginning so it becomes a part of the everyday routine. Here are some simple ideas to incorporate into your kids daily activities:
Meal prep can be a pain and it gets even worse when you put all that time and effort into food your family doesn’t end up eating. Kids can be fickle when it comes to what food they like, sometimes it changes by the day or even meal but one trick you may want to test is including your kids in the meal planning and prep process. When you’re writing your shopping list, ask your little ones which veggies they’re craving or what kind of sandwich they want for lunch. This is also a great opportunity to talk about what goes into feeding a family so your kids grow up learning about the steps that go into shopping and cooking.
Whether your kids are the play-with-one-toy obsessively until it’s broken or used up or the move-from-one-thing-to-the-next-at-lightning-speed type every parent knows the pain of stepping on a toy or rummaging through piles of clutter trying to find the item you need. Rather than swoop in at the end of an exhausting day to pick toys up on your own after your kids are in bed, incorporate cleanup into your kiddos bedtime routine to make sure there’s enough time and to ensure that everyone helps clear up the mess they made. This is a great tool for creating a sense of ownership in your kids from a young age and it also will hopefully save you some time and effort. If your kids aren’t the cleanup-with-a-smile type you may want to try making a game out of the process like competing to see who can clear their bedroom floor more quickly or cleaning up the items by color type.
Sweeping and mopping
Sweeping and mopping are great tasks to give to a child because they’re relatively simple as well as tactile in a satisfying way. It’s true that a very young child with a wet mop may make things worse rather than better but with some practice and supervision (and patience) you may just get a clean floor and a worn out kid by the end of the day.
Feeding the pets
Different pets have different needs when it comes to mealtime but depending on your setup it might be easy to store your dog or cat food in a plastic or metal canister with a scoop that your kids are able to access and open easily. If your kids are older you can write the feeding schedule and amounts on the fridge or even put a sign on the food canister and keep an eye on the clock for when a reminder is needed (though dogs and cats are pretty good at mealtime reminders on their own.) For younger kids, you may need to do the task with them but it’s a great way to start them out and teach them about what goes into keeping a pet and caring for an animal.
A strong way to teach your kids how to care for their possessions is dusting. An old rag and a bit of patience is all they need for this task and it’s perfect for a chilly inside-day especially as it’s quiet and easily supervised. Dusting teaches a light touch and attention to detail and a bit of pretend play while they get the job done can make it into an enjoyable time.
Keep in mind
When supervising and assigning your kids chores, remember not to insist on perfection. The idea is to create a feeling of accomplishment that encourages them to participate willingly. When they’re angsty teenagers you’ll get fewer eyerolls and groans if you set the precedent early. Praise for a job well-done (or sometimes just done) is always a smart approach and just as with everything else, consistency is important for building skills and expectations.
Rose Hart-Landsberg helps produce the Informed Pregnancy Podcast hosted by Dr. Elliot Berlin, DC and serves as managing editor of the new Informed Pregnancy Blog. She also spearheads podcast and blog sponsor partnerships and helps with various related content and copy writing for The Informed Pregnancy Project and Berlin Wellness Group.
In her free time she enjoys editing and writing fiction, makeup artistry, and is currently learning Turkish.