Chores are so frustrating for us Spoonies! Getting your children to help clean can be difficult; but is important and rewarding for them, and us, to keep them involved. Expecting their help teaches them specific life-skills they will need to know when they are older, and it will be helpful for you as a Spoonie as each family member will have some responsibilities in the care of your home.
Here are Ten Tips for Cleaning with Cups:
1. Start Them Young.
Choose age appropriate chores for each child. They will learn that they are part of the family team, and are part of making the house a home. Children are capable of doing many chores starting as toddlers. Examples:
2 and up
• Put their dirty clothing in the hamper
• Empty bathroom wastebasket into kitchen wastebasket
• Dust low shelves
• Wipe down oven and refrigerator doors with damp cloth
• Fold washcloths and small towels
4 and up
• Set table with supervision
• Match socks
• Feed pet with supervision
• Brush teeth with supervision
• Put toys away
• Put away silverware
6 and up
• Make bed
• Fold laundry with supervision
• Put laundry away
• Empty dishwasher
• Empty garbage cans
• Help with cooking with supervision (peel, stir, mix)
• Wipe down sinks, tables and counters
• Take clothes out of dryer
8 and up
• Sweep, vacuum or dry mop floors
• Wash dishes
• Clean bathroom with supervision
• Rake leaves
• Fold laundry
• Take garbage to curb
• Take care of pets (feed, water, exercise)
10 and up
• Change bedding
• Clean mirrors
• Clean bathroom
• Clean windows
• Mop floors
13 and up
• Rake leaves
• Mow lawn
• Wash and dry laundry
• Make occasional simple meals
• Maintain their own personal property (replacing batteries)
2. Be Specific.
Instead of saying, “Clean the table,” tell them, “Take a clean, damp cloth and wipe the whole table. Brush crumbs into your hand and throw them away, don’t push them onto the floor…etc.” Since they have not learned through the experience yet, it is important to break chores down so they understand the steps. For readers, make a list of the steps for a new chore and put it where they can see it. I kept the breakdown in my Home Binder under the Housekeeping tab. (Seriously, a Home Binder can make life so much simpler; see my article 10 Tips for Cleaning with Chronic Pain )
3. Be Consistent.
Expect a chore to be done each day, and follow through with making sure it becomes a habit. When we don’t follow through with the expectation, things tend to slip aside more and more frequently.
4. Mix It Up.
If you have more than one child, make sure to change the chores they are each responsible for each day. You could do the Popsicle Stick method by writing each child’s responsibility on a Popsicle stick, and having them pick a new stick each day, or set up a sticker chart. I had a chart that rotated chores among my three older children so they could look at their expected responsibility each afternoon and weren’t always expected to do the same chore.
5. Time It!
Use a timer for younger children, about five minutes should be plenty for smaller children (make it a Beat the Clock game!) and fifteen minutes for 10-13 year olds. Expect the chore to be completed within a set period of time. I gave the older children time to choose between arriving home from school and suppertime. (Unless the chore was to load the dishwasher, which was expected right following dinner.)
6. Don’t Demand Perfection
But don’t allow sloppy work. Teach them to take pride in a job well done.
7. Give Praise.
We all like to feel that we have done something well. Let them know how much their hard work helps you and makes you proud. Give specific examples, such as, “I really like the way you moved the chairs to sweep under the table, that was good thinking!”
If you have a place for everything in their rooms, they will be more likely to put things back where they belong more consistently and naturally. I use bins for items such as: dolls and accessories, Legos, play food, Shopkins Squinkies and Little Pet Shops, markers and crayons, etc… I also use clear bins so they can see what goes in which container.
Before Christmas, Birthdays or other times they receive new toys or items, I have them go through their toys and fill a box for donation or Rummage Sale. (It is also helpful if you allow them to keep money earned by selling some of their items.)
10. Give Extra Opportunities
Make a list of chores they may accomplish outside of the expected chores, and offer a small reward for completion of them. For example: Vacuum an extra room for 3 points, do extra dishes for 5 points. When they reach 10 points they may receive something special. For younger children, they get to pick a movie, have a sleepover, or earn the new action figure they want. For older children: go to a movie, receive cash, or use the car for an afternoon.