Cue the horror movie music. Here. It. Comes. Spring cleaning time has arrived. Eek! But as you stare down all of those surfaces, nooks and crannies that are mocking you with their winter coat of dirt, and the cushions and linens demanding you air them out, take comfort in one powerful consolation.
The kids can help. Yes, you read that right! You can leverage that seemingly endless supply of energy for the ultimate chore list, and believe it or not, they may even enjoy it. Trust me, my friends…there are ways to make it happen. Oh, yes, there are ways.
While it may sound counter-intuitive to give young kids responsibility, I’ve found that getting them involved with spring cleaning (and chores in general) around the age of 3 works well for setting expectations and establishing it as a normal part of their world. For me, this means my little B recently became eligible, so now I have two helpers. And I plan to take shameless advantage of that – in the gentlest way possible, of course! And with non-toxic cleaners for the boys, always.
Back when L was that young and first dipping his toe into the waters, I discovered through trial and error that he responded well when I made chores fun. Now you’re thinking, yeah right,…as if that’s even possible. Ah, but it is! Here are some ideas to turn chore time into playtime for your kids:
Turn it into a dance party. Throw the idea of appropriate volume out of the window and crank up their favorite music. Then, encourage them to bust a move as they clean. To engage them even further, I suggest they switch up their dance routine from task to task. I lead by example, naturally. Rock on.
Play the game. I can get L and B to do almost anything if they’re competing with each other, so sometimes I’ll make chores into a game. I’ve done everything from dividing the living room in half to see who cleans their side faster, to inspecting their cleaning tools and declaring whoever’s is grossest the winner of the Great Dirt Challenge. Yes at times this method ends in tears due to the competing but hey, my living room is clean.
Mission clean-up. My boys are big into hero stuff, and I’ve played into this before by giving them a mission to complete – in other words, chores! To motivate them to complete multiple items on a list, I’ll divide the mission into parts, each part being a task. L’s three-part mission might consist of wiping down the kitchen counters and taking out the garbage. Since he’s younger, B is better off with less intensive tasks like running a Swiffer duster over living room furniture, replacing dirty pillowcases with clean and “collecting” dust bunnies under the bed.
Skating with bunnies. Believe it or not, my boys think any kind of dirt is, well, pretty awesome. And that’s one great love they can keep for themselves! So why not satisfy their passion for grime with my need to banish dust bunnies? I turn the non-carpeted areas of my home into a skating rink by giving L and B permission to slide around the floors in old socks. They have a blast sailing across the room and gleefully inspecting their feet to see who accumulates the largest, gnarliest dust bunnies as I place garbage bags within reach and silently thank the cleaning gods for sparing me this gruesome task.
Team closet. Anyone with kids knows that they require a lot of stuff. And all of this stuff can accumulate at the speed of light over a year, plus they grow out of them faster than I can down a can of my beloved La Croix, so cleaning out closets is kind of a necessary evil. I tackle this chore by forming an assembly line of sorts. As I remove the items we no longer need or want, my boys sort them into categorized piles according to item. It’s simple: shoes in one pile, pants in another, t-shirts in another, etc. You get the idea. It keeps them occupied and cuts the duration of closet clean-out time in half.
As you can see, it really is possible to tame the spring cleaning monster by getting your kids involved. You get help and they get to feel like they contributed. Plus, it gives me more time to spend doing all of the things with L and B that they value most in boy world…..and back into the yard to pitch I go.
Download this fun chore chart to use with your kids, if you’d like! I so hope you find it helpful.