I posted an Instagram story a few weeks ago of Henry and Posie doing their chores. Henry was cleaning windows and Posie was refilling the cat food. The response I got from my audience was overwhelming. How do you get them to do this? Aren’t you worried about streaks on your window? Do they do chores every day? How do I do this with my kids?
To be honest, I never really gave it a second thought as this is how I grew up. So I didn’t have constructive answers for ya’ll. Instead, I called upon an expert and friend, Mariyah. She owns a cleaning business in Calgary and knows the ins and outs of chores, the importance of starting them at a young age, and how to introduce them into your family. Here she is folks – take it away Mariyah!
Expert’s Advice on starting Chores for your Kids
Growing up in Ukraine, my brother and I were involved with household chores since my early childhood. Frankly, tasks like collecting dirty laundry, watering plants, hand washing floors, dusting (we did a crappy job, but we did it) were more like…household contributions. Our family was a team, and our parents were cheerleaders rather than drill sergeants.
When it comes to getting kids involved in household contributions, remember that cleaning is a critical life skill which would be amazing to develop into a long term healthy habit. The earlier you start, the better!
Household Contributions by Age
CHILDREN AGES 1-3
Hang up their coats (make sure the tasks are easy; have an accessible hook for them!)
Pull up bedding first thing in the morning
Put dirty clothes in a laundry basket
Help bring dirty plates to the sink after meal
Carry items to the pantry or fridge after meals (butter, ketchup, bag of chips, etc.)
(p.s. some tasks don’t really fall under a cleaning category, rather tidying; however, establishing such habits will be very beneficial down the road)
HOW TO MAKE IT FUN:
Say out loud when you are hanging a coat, so they can repeat after you.
Buy little baskets just for their laundry, so they feel in charge.
Create a mini cleaning caddie with cute little spray bottles, cloths and sponges. They will definitely imitate you cleaning; because cleaning is not only for grown ups!
Quick non-toxic all-purpose cleaner:
1 cup of water
¼ cups of vinegar
20 drops of favorite essential oils
Cut the sponge in half so it fits in their tiny hand:)
When toddlers feel accomplished doing those little tasks, they can definitely develop independence.
CHILDREN AGES 4-8
Solidify the above-mentioned habits
Pick up toys
Load the dishwasher after dinner
Give sink and bathtub a wipe
Wipe the door knobs & light switches
Dust & vacuum
Take out trash
HOW TO STAY FOCUSED: Cleaning on their own can be distracting. To ease into more advanced cleaning duties like dusting and vacuuming, I recommend cleaning as a family, leading by example. Start with bedrooms and, as a single, unstoppable cleaning force, move to the common areas (living room, dining room, TV room, basement). You set the tone and monitor the work being done. One person fluffs up the pillows, another folds blankets and puts things away, then your munchkin can dust and vacuum. Bam! You have fun and finish faster.
HOW TO SPARK INTEREST: As kids grow, they enjoy being stimulated by cool gadgets. Make sure that dusting is fun by giving them colorful dusting gloves. A vacuum cleaner should be easy to maneuver and easy to access, so it doesn’t feel like a chore (no pun intended) to take it out and put it away. Cleaning cloths can have cool patterns on them to keep cleaning interesting, and not boring.
CHILDREN AGES 9 – 12
Everything from the above
Scrub the bathtub or shower
Clean mirrors (streak-free!)
Wipe down countertops
Mop the floors
Sweep the garage and driveway
FOR THE BEST RESULTS: With increasing school load, cleaning falls on the backburner…Time your kids during their cleaning activity, and offer suggestions on what they can do differently next time to save a minute or two. “I bet you can load this dishwasher in 7 minutes, what do ya think?!” Get them excited and competitive, with a timer and their favorite music in the background.
EXTRA MOTIVATION: Being 10, I remember catching myself thinking how “not cool” cleaning was, so my parents continued making it fun! Create a punch card for those heavy-duty cleaning tasks (like helping wash the fridge, rake leaves etc). Giving a punch for each contribution is really motivating. The reward can be as simple as a sweet dessert or a little bit of cash. Well, now that’s cool!
Good luck, dear parents!
If you have cleaning questions of any kind, please head to our Instagram, @amcleaning_yyc. We post helpful cleaning tips & tricks every Tuesday.
You can always email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have burning cleaning questions, or book an appointment with our oh so lovely :AM team (www.amcleaning.ca)
Printable Chore Charts
I have put together a printable checklist you can use at home with your kiddos. As the ages progress, please note that I have not bothered to re-write chores in consecutive lists as these chores should and will be manifested into daily and weekly habits. If you are just jumping on the chore bandwagon now though, no worries! Simply print the other chore checklists and ignore the age suggestions.