Encouraging Little Helpers: Make a Cleaning Basket

I want my kids to learn how to clean.  It’s a basic life skill.  I also want them to know that I expect them to be helping members of this family.  Because we are a team.  Because loving each other is demonstrated in both word and deed.  And because I don’t plan on cleaning up after them all my life.

We’ve been talking a lot these days about what it means to be part of a team.  To work together, listen to each other, and compromise.  Most of all, I hope they’ll begin to see the value of helping another person.  It’s another form of giving.

When it comes to teaching kids to help with household chores, the quality of help may not be superb.  But that doesn’t matter as much as the willingness to help.  Technique can be improved with practice, but tapping into motivation is far more complex.

This really must start in the home.  You don’t just walk out the door and suddenly transform into a good teammate at school, in sports, or in the community.   I do believe every opportunity a child has to contribute to the family creates a foundation for not just responsibility, but also a sense of significance.  As much as they need me, I want them to know that I need them.

So I decided to make a little cleaning basket to help my kids participate in chores.  For now, I’ll focus on cleaning the tile floors.

The basket holds:

– a small broom with dustpan

– small spray bottle (perfect for little hands) filled with a mix of (mostly) water and vinegar

– a sponge

– an old toothbrush

– a couple microfiber towels

– a lint roller, just for kicks.  Because sticky things are fun.

I’m still brainstorming other items that would be useful.

It doesn’t take much to get kids interested at this stage.  The fact that they each get their own kit already makes it special.  Explaining the different steps of cleaning in fun metaphors helps to engage.  The grout lines became railroad tracks.  The grooves and pits in the tile were mountains and valleys.  The dust bunnies themselves don’t need metaphor.  They are fun and captivating on their own.

Lots of praise and thankfulness on my part was the icing on the cake.  Momo beamed with pride whenever a mark on the floor disappeared as he scrubbed.

Not a great deal of cleaning gets done, especially with toddlers as part of your cleaning crew.  They did show excellent enthusiasm though.  Attention to detail?  Not so much.

I had to remind myself often to bite my tongue and let them experiment with the challenges of how to clean.  After all, that too is a good process of exploration and discovery.

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6 thoughts on “Encouraging Little Helpers: Make a Cleaning Basket

  1. This is a great idea! My kiddos love to “help” clean, and how fun for them to each have their own cleaning basket 🙂 I would have to include a Swiffer Duster as that is their favorite cleaning tool to use!

  2. I totally agree with your logic here, on all counts. Though I know my life would be easier with a house cleaner, I have never been able to do it. I too want my children to understand that our home is our responsibility as a family to take care of. My boys help with the floors too, but I know having their own basket of tools would make it even better for them. Thanks for the idea.

    • Hope this helps your boys continue to grow in responsibility, and some pride too in how helpful they can be! I saw a Groupon deal once for housecleaning and gave it a try. It was amazing. That’s the one time I’ve experienced having a housecleaner and it blew my mind. 🙂 It is expensive though, especially for something I feel like I can do myself (albeit subpar). Meanwhile, let’s just hope our kids grow up to be great helpers!

  3. Yes, I taught my boys the verse, “If any man doesn’t work, neither let him eat,” showing that it takes a whole household to make it run smoothly and even God designed the first man, Adam, to work. So i fully agree with you! Other easy chores were emptying trash cans, setting the table (if the dishes are too precious or breakable), and of course, putting away toys & clothes. Good for you, Dr. Yolanda, to be teaching your kiddos!

    • Hi Joan! Good verse to teach!! I’m going to add that to some of our household mantras. 🙂 I can’t tell you how many teenagers I see and talk with who have no concept of the “work” needed behind what they have, whether it’s meal prep for the food they have just eaten, or the clean sheets on which they sleep, or an awareness of the cost of an item. Nor are they at all prepared for financial concepts that will empower them to use their money wisely. It’s because I see the adolescent issues on a regular basis that I have become so sensitive and passionate about the importance of starting young in teaching about real life skills, fostering independence, and encouraging them to problem solve. Thanks for your input! I always appreciate your wisdom.

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