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In this busy day and age, having one parent at home is mostly a luxury and even if both parents are not working the stresses of modern live leave parents busy and often the house in a mess. Toys and clothes can be strewn everywhere, dishes stacked unwashed in kitchens, floors in desperate need of a sweep…Sound familiar? It’s hard to keep up with it all at the best of times, let alone if you’re the one having to clean up after a whole family. So what can you do short of paying for a house cleaner? And do most of us really have time for that? How about enlisting your own small army of kids. It makes sense as they are often the ones making a lot of the mess. But is it right to let your kids help around the home? And could it help or hinder their growth?

Is Getting Kids to Help Actually Better For Them?

There are some people that would argue that kids need to be kids and a parents role is to look after them. And while that is very true, a parents role is to also help them grow and guide them into becoming responsible adults themselves, so perhaps teaching kids some household skills could be doing them more favors than not. Now I’m not talking getting kids to cook every meal and scrub floors on the daily. The jobs they are given need to be suitable to their age. But I am suggesting letting them help in sharing the cleaning and clearing duties within the house. Kids that learn simple household tasks like sweeping, doing dishes and tidying up after themselves are often better equipped for adult life living away from home and life in the workforce. Learning these small skills and having them as a normal part of life can set them up with a good work ethic and a knowledge of pulling their own weight. Having kids help around the home can also give them more pride in their home and eventually lead to them packing away after themselves without having to be told.

Fun Ways To Involve Children in Cleaning up

Now if kids have not grown up with having to clean up around the home and you are trying to get them into the groove of things it can be fun at first to turn cleaning up into some games because as we all know kids love games. These games don’t need to be fully thought out things just simple games like, “okay who wants to race me and see who picks up the most blocks first?” Races are great ways to get kids into the spirit of picking things up. It works with taking off washing, picking up toys and putting away things, although I wouldn’t recommend it for things like putting away dishes! It may create even more mess! Another way to get kids involved is by doing things creatively and letting them have their own ideas about how it should be done. Things like asking kids creative ways they could make their beds! Still ensuring that they are neat but you could get all kinds of fun designs going and it allows them to be creative and have input not just being told what they HAVE to do because as we all know, kids can be stubborn when authority is thrown in their face.

Creating new recipes together for dinner can be fun as well and helping them perfect a favourite, even if it is just scrambled eggs or pancakes, that they can eventually make on their own. If you put your mind to it you can make even the most boring of chores seem fun, and if when starting out you are working along side of your kids they will feel less like they are being ‘punished’ and accept it as something fun you do together.

Should Children Have Treats as Incentives?

So, should you give your kids treats or prizes for helping out? Well it’s really up to the individual parent, and they can work as great incentives but I would suggest not offering a treat for everything they do. Kids need to know that helping is a normal thing and doesn’t need to be highly praised as it is just part of daily life, like Brushing your teeth or eating breakfast.

It can help to explain to children the joy of contributing to the house, that mummy and daddy do a lot of work and they would love some help from the kids too. That them clearing away their mess leaves you with more free time to play with them!!

Kids love to make mum and dad happy and by explaining how their helping can do just that can have a big impact of them.

Having said that, I think that on some occasions offering rewards for some chores, like pocket money can be a great way also to show kids the value of the dollar. The best way to do this is by having regular chores, sweeping, dishes, packing up after themselves, as the normal every day occurrences and then having extra jobs they can do if they are trying to raise money for something special, even if it’s just an ice cream on the weekend.

Bigger jobs, or extra jobs around the house can be given to them as ‘work’ make sure to make a distinction however between what is ‘work’ and what is helping for the sake of contributing to the family and having a beautiful family home.

Can This Really Work For You?

Many people may read this and think ‘you don’t know my kids! It’s not that simple!’ But this isn’t a quick fix. Getting your kids to learn the importance of clearing up after themselves and helping around the house requires time and patience. Some parents like to implement a chart system to help them and the kids keep track of what has been done and other parents prefer to freestyle it. But the important thing is positive reinforcement and patience. You are literally training your child to be alone in the world. Keep that in mind and teach them that also. These are skills they will need one day and what better way to teach them but in their own home, with the example of their own parents.

Always remember one step at a time!