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Tips for Cleaning House with Young Children in Tow

Immy cleaning her bathroom shower screen with a Viva Shower Fast Wipe

I am a big believer in involving young children in household chores (that are suitable to their level of development) as I believe that these early experience can help to instill positive habits for healthy living for many years to come. And toddlers and preschoolers make fabulously willing cleaning helpers when you make the cleaning experience fun!

Here are four ways to make cleaning time fun…

  1. Make it a game: Adding a playful element like seeing who can match the greatest number of sock pairs or having a race to see who finishes their respective packing away chore quickest, helps to make cleaning and packing away interesting and engaging for young children.
  2. Give your child fun tools to use: We have a cabinet with long glass shelves which Immy loves to dust. She carefully removes all of the photos and other trinkets displayed and then comes her favourite part of the task – spraying water on the shelves with a small spray bottle! She then wipes the shelves clean with a cleaning cloth. The simple act of giving her a spray bottle of water makes the task great fun. I know other children who love the novelty of using the vacuum like a grown up, or sweeping the floor with a short handled broom.
  3. Add music or singing to your cleaning tasks: Turn up the volume on some catchy music or sing a simple song like, “This is the way we mop the floor, mop the floor, mop the floor,” which can be adapted to almost any cleaning task.
  4. Use a timer: Set an old fashioned kitchen timer for three minutes and set a simple cleaning challenge for your preschooler.

What sorts of tasks can young children do?
I think children from the age of two can be involved in any of the following tasks, with varying levels of assistance and supervision depending upon their age;

  1. Dusting
  2. Putting dirty laundry into a hamper
  3. Folding laundry: Folding small items like tea towels, matching socks or even finding separating all of their own underwear from a big pile helps to reduce the time you need to spend with the laundry.
  4. Putting away laundry: Make it easy for your child to put away their own clothes by making it clear which drawer is for which type of item of clothing and not having too many clothes in each drawer.
  5. Unpacking the dishwasher
  6. Tidying up toys: Separating toys into their own containers and labeling the containers can make packing away toys easier for young children.
  7. Sweeping up mess: Spending a little time teaching your child how to use a dustpan and brush now can save lots of time in the days to come.
  8. Cleaning up spills: Keep a basket or drawer in the kitchen (which is easy for your child to access independently) for cleaning cloths that can be used for wiping up drink spills. A small spray bottle of water kept nearby might be useful as well.
  9. Setting and clearing the table: At three years of age, Immy has been setting our table for some months now. And older toddlers and preschoolers can help to clear the table of dishes and condiments as well.
  10. Cleaning in the bathroom: Wiping down sinks and counters, scrubbing the ring around the bath and cleaning the shower screen are all tasks which young children can help with.

Some final advice for keeping your child engaged and involved in household cleaning tasks are;

  • Be consistent about your expectation that they will help.
  • Work alongside them. Children are more likely to be involved if you are too.
  • Keep tasks as independent as possible for your child and resist the urge to do over what they have done (yes, you may have to let go of standards just a little!)
  • Rotate chores to keep it interesting.

This post is sponsored by Nuffnang and Viva, we received some Viva Shower Fast Wipes to try and they work incredibly well.  They removed the soap scum from the shower screen and the ring from around our bath really easily and without the harsh, smelly chemicals usually associated with cleaning the shower.

About VIVA® Shower Fast Wipes
Introducing VIVA® Shower Fast Wipes, a fast-action cleaning wipe designed to cut through soap scum with ease, so you can spend shower time, showering! Made from a unique non-scratch dual textured fabric, the new wipes have a ‘scrub side’ to lift and trap stubborn soap scum and a ‘smooth side’ to wipe away in remaining grime and residue, as well as a biodegradeable anti-scum solution to reduce future build-up. Available now from supermarkets nationwide.

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Comments

  1. Great tips! I have a two year old and right now her chores are putting her dirty clothes in the dirty clothes basket in her closet (which she loves because she runs and then claps when she comes back out of the closet) and putting her blankets and pillows on her bed in the morning. She also puts away clean silverware and puts dirty silverware into the dishwasher. It gives us a chance to talk about categorizing and sorting as well.

  2. my 2 year old follows me round with the duster dusting around while i wipe everything down!!

  3. I too am an advocate of having children help around the house. Your list is good. Not sure if there’s much left to add. Oh, instead of sweeping, I got my kids to push the vacuum cleaner around. And since I’ve got rabbits, I have them check if there’s enough food and water. Good stuff. I’m going to tweet it.

  4. My 3yr old daughter likes to get the step stool and help me load and unload the washing machine… it’s gorgeous!

  5. Thanks Christie for the tips
    I haven’t forced my 2 & 4yo daughters to clean with me, but they usually take the lead and find washing dishes (over the sink), dusting and wiping up spills fun
    I just tell when where the rags and things are kept, and they usually are self-motivated to volunteer chores when they see something that needs tidying up.
    They know how to put their clothes into the wash basket, put dishes and spoons in the dishwasher, and often love helping to unpack the dishwasher as well.

  6. Margaret Elvis says:

    I only wish I’d read your blog about involving house cleaning with children when my two were little. Not sure they were very helpful at all unfortunately. Great ideas.

  7. my 3yo has always loved to help cleaning :-) she especially loves to sweep up, she begs me at times to get the broom… lol… only problem i have is getting her to keep it tidy, as soon as we’re finished, it’s a mess again lol

  8. melanie w says:

    My kids love doing the dusting the have a duster each and they are quite happy whilst i do other things , they also like to help with washing putting it in the machine , putting in the wash powder and pressing the buttons.

  9. Tara Canning says:

    My son loves hanging up the washing on the clothes horses. Drives me mad watching how he does it, but he gets such a sense of pride helping! :)

  10. I’m just trying to train my little man to put stuff into containers (his current thrill) and get him to do it with useful things while I’m tidying up … early days though!
    Oh he likes starting the dishwasher too!

  11. My 2yo loves to polish our sliding doors with a soft cloth, and roll up her sleeves to help wash the dishes. Her favourite job is helping to clean the toilet with the toilet brush – it might be a bit of a messy splashy job but we’re mopping afterwards anyway so it doesn’t matter if the floor gets splashed!

  12. I get my girls (aged 5 & 4) to unstack the dishwasher, put dirty clothes in basket, put their dirty dishes in sink, help set the table, and they have a little dustpan to sweep up little crumbs. They enjoy being ‘Mummy’s Helper’ x

  13. elizabeth says:

    Great Ideas!

  14. The feather duster is a favourite with the little people in this house! Dusting is my absolute least favourite chore, so there is always plenty about!

  15. elizabeth says:

    i just give my 5 yr old a bucket of warm soapy water and let her clean as she likes :) my door handles are sparkling

  16. linda bennett says:

    theres nothin like letting your 4yr old splash bathwater every where to clean the floor or allowing them to ride around on the broom in the undercover area to sweep the floor he doesnt need much incouragement either

  17. Great tips, Christie!

    I have a friend whose two boys are very competitive, so they give them a race in the backyard: who can pull up the most weeds in 10 minutes! Works a charm, she says.

    I find the 4yo loves to help. He’ll happily vacuum or sweep the floor. It won’t be perfect, but I look at it as a good start anyway. Also, if I clean the table, he quite likes to wipe that down. Think I might try the spray bottle trick though! He’d love that.

  18. I find if I leave the kids playing quietly by themselves while I clean, I’m just opening myself up to disaster and invariably more mess to clean. Much nicer when we work together : ) My boys love to sweep (extremely helpful, haha), they love wiping up their spills and doing ‘one side of the bed’ while I do the other.

    We all have a spray bottle, and we choose our job: dusting the furniture, wiping over the leather couches or giving the sliding glass doors a wipe (We use the Viva Glass & Mirror wipes – I recommend them! Haven’t tried the shower ones though) We go about our morning jobs before we play : )

    I’m not fussed about toys being out, or getting craft stuff everywhere. We cook up a storm, and leave cubby houses up for days… But I definitely think getting kids to help clean makes them more mindful of looking after their belongings and helps them to develop a sense of working together to get things done.

  19. I really do need some inspiration to involve my 2 year old more. He does like putting his dirty clothes in the basket and sweeping, but that it about it.
    I recently got to trial some Viva products through Kidspot – the Shower Fast Wipes and the glass and mirror cleaner really are great and easy to use. Must go buy some and get my protege involved! :)

  20. Struggling to get the munchkin on board, but am renewed in my desire after reading this post. Shall try the race against the clock, not much else seems to be working! (And agree about the wipes – love to know the eco-footprint of them – they sure do work!)

  21. My 1 (almost 2) year old loves helping me around the house. She hands me the clean dishes from the washer. Helps load and unload the dryer. Washes windows and wipes the table. Her favorite right now is vacuuming with our stick vacuum.

    I love having her help around the house because it makes cleaning more fun for me!

  22. Certainly nothing wrong with getting the children involved in the cleaning. In fact, it’s good training for when they’re older so they’ll do it without being asked and can look after themselves when they leave home! Not enough parents do it!

    Some nice tips!

  23. Oh yeah, nothing like a bit of booty dance while dusting and mopping. When my littlest helps it’s to the soundtrack of Mama Mia, older daughter its Fiest time (this week), #1 son…..only AC/DC, #2 son, being a gemini, could be anything and #3 son is into the soundtrack from Requiem for a Dream, so some serious cleaning gets done then.
    When they were young they could either ‘trade in’ the time with helping me for either pocket money or “Mummy Moments” which would be a special time together. With a large family, special time together meant they could choose an outing, a favourite meal or a favourite activity

  24. Great post. I agree 100%. Check out this blog for your chance to enter and WIN the DVD Cleaning With Kids as well as some great kid’s tools.

    http://livingmontessorinow.com/2011/06/14/montessori-inspired-cleaning-with-kids-dvd-and-speed-cleaning-products-giveaway/

  25. I don’t know about everyone else but my 4 yr old follows me around with chocolate or dirt from playing outside on their hands making everything dirty as I try to clean up. I sometimes feel sabotage is afoot. I certainly try to get them to put their toys away which works most of the time. Having a play room that they can trash is certainly helpful.

  26. My little guy loves to feed the pets, he started that at around 18 months, and he loves to help with when I clean, but he’s also right there helping me cook, another great skill to learn early.

  27. GREAT TIPS! I have a very independent toddler that LOVES to help. I’ve quickly learned that both of our lives are easier and much more enjoyable if he gets to help with the chores. He loves to throw things in the trash, dust, sweep, and I’ll even let him put the pots and pans away from the bottom of the dishwasher.

  28. my 2year olf granddaughter makes cleaning imposible help

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  1. [...] Tips for Cleaning House with Young Children in Tow via Christie from Childhood 101 [...]

  2. […] So get the kids cleaning. Ha! Funny. Perhaps you can get them motivated with some great ideas from Childhood 101. […]

  3. […] wrote a great post over at Childhood 101 where she talked about setting a timer to get young children involved in household chores.  I’ve taken this idea on board, but I’m using it to motivate me. I set the timer for […]

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