House cleaning is a basic survival skill. Everyone needs clean clothes to wear out into the world, clean dishes off of which to eat breakfast, and somewhere to rest their head at the end of the day. Clean doesn’t just happen. Someone makes it happen. Everyone should know how.
Get Kids Involved
Small children who see an adult cleaning usually want to help. This is an excellent opportunity to get them started. Give them a dusting wand or damp cloth and let them tackle baseboards. It’s not child labor; it’s their first house cleaning lesson.
Never discourage any interest a kid shows in cleaning. If they want to give it a try, show them how. If you have to do it over again, wait until they’re in bed. If it seems easier to just do it yourself, think about how important it is that they learn this life skill. You won’t send your kids off into the world without knowing how to brush their teeth and drive a car. Don’t deprive them of the knowledge they need to properly care for their possessions and personal environment.
Assign Age-Appropriate Chores
Pay attention your child’s cues and assign age-and-skill-appropriate chores. Make sure they understand how to do whatever you’re asking them to do and reward them for completing the task. Always be encouraging and project a good attitude about housework. It’s not supposed to be fun, but it is necessary. Kids should understand that.
Chores around the house give kids a platform for honing the skills they’ve learned as well as the opportunity to begin developing self-motivation and self-discipline. Assigned chores also plant the seeds for the formation of the lifetime habit of cleaning up.
Teenagers may kick and scream, but in a few years knowing how to do laundry and wash dishes will be important. If they’re already in the habit of doing these things it won’t be such a blow when they have to start doing them totally on their own.
Expose Kids to Housekeeping Basics
It’s also important to expose kids to the bigger picture of actually running a household. They should have at least a rudimentary understanding about things like grocery shopping and meal planning, how the entire house gets cleaned, how to organize stuff and how it gets properly stored, and other similar components that make up household management.
Teach Kids to Take Responsibility
On a smaller scale, assigning older kids the tasks of taking responsibility for keeping track of their personal possessions and taking care of their personal space helps them start to develop the habits that they will need when they eventually move out into the world and have to take over the care of larger spaces.
Teaching kids the basics of cleaning and caring for a home as well as keeping track of possessions is a long-term commitment that begins as soon as they show any interest in helping out. Always encourage, allow them to try, be positive. They’ll make lots of mistakes and it’ll often seem like it’s easier to do it yourself, but it’s important to let them learn and feel good about whatever they achieve, even if it’s not even close to perfect. If you start them out on the right track, by the time they get to be your age, they’ll be doing it just as well as you do.
Want more house cleaning tips and ideas? Check out my book Clean Like A Pro: Tips and Techniques for Cleaning Your Home Like a Seasoned Professional, available on Amazon.