What a tough lesson to learn and one many adults have yet to master! As parents, there are so many things we just absolutely must teach our children in order to raise responsible adults. Cleaning up after yourself is at the top of that list! So how do we make this happen?
Practice what you preach!
Just like most things in parenting, the key to instilling a good work ethic is to model one. If our kids see us grumbling and complaining, they will most likely follow suit. If they see us leaving things around the house, they will tend to do the same. Don’t ask your kids to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself!
Praise and patience!
In addition to setting a good example, we should also praise our kids for a job well done and for having a good attitude. Remember they are learning and the job may not be as well done as if you had completed it yourself. “Practice makes perfect” though, even in cleaning a bathroom. So, resist the urge to just take over the job– they will never learn if we don’t give them the opportunity.
There’s fun for everyone!
Each stage of life can do age appropriate tidying. Toddlers can help put away small toys and books. Preschoolers can help sort the laundry (this is a great way to teach colors too!). Elementary school aged children can empty/fill the dishwasher and help clean windows. Junior High children can start doing basic laundry like sheets and towels, wiping down bathroom surfaces, and even help cook dinner with adult supervision. High Schoolers can vacuum, mop, and clean bathrooms.
A weekly chore chart is a great idea.
This helps your kids have a visual schedule of what is expected of them and what needs to be completed when. Note: Mixing up various responsibilities is something to keep in mind when assigning tasks. This ensures that everyone is learning something new and sharing the load. It also helps to teach the not-so-fun lesson that we don’t always get to do the easiest task at hand. “Just because it isn’t fun, doesn’t mean it doesn’t get done!”.
Snow White’s friends knew what they were talking about!
If you can make cleaning fun it will go a lot smoother for everyone. Turn some music on and have a cleaning dance party. Make cleaning a game and set a timer to see how many toys can get cleaned up before the timer goes off. Or see who can get the cleanest window or deliver the largest load of laundry. Whatever works for your crew!
Make it understood, make it necessary, make it fun, make it rewarding.
In the end, we all want to raise responsible, caring adults. The best way to make this happen is to be intentional with what we teach and loving in the delivery. Our kids may not love the task before them in the begging, but they will absolutely love the reward of a job well done!