Have you ever sent your child to clean his room to find hours later that close to nothing had been done? That’s frustrating, right?
Well, it could be that your precious puddin’ pop feels like he’s going to the ocean with a teaspoon and feels completely paralyzed by the idea of organizing and cleaning an area that seems overwhelming to him. So, how do we help? Routine.
Let’s use the example of kids cleaning their rooms. What they really need are chore lists and routines. And cleaning works best if you do a little each day. Spring cleaning is great, but it’s less of a task if you’ve kept up on it all year long in a daily ritual. This is also a great way to build some healthy habits, such as constantly picking up after yourself.
For some reason, it seems a lot of kids struggle with remembering to clean up after themselves. This is a simple idea, but a daunting task. Try begin by helping them become aware of their personal space. Get them in a habit of continually scanning about a three foot circumference around their body. If something within three feet of them is not in its home, have them put it away. Give them a code word, such as “circumference” so they know to check their space. Once this becomes a habit, their living space will become more manageable. Here’s another tip, the best broom for a child will be at their height, imagine a broom stick 2-3 times your height for a second. Now that you see why that’s an issue, why not cut them a shorter broom stick which they can install on the broom. This will give them a sense of ownership over a tool used in cleaning, which can be rewarding for them.
What you want is for your kiddos to become mini experts at the task at hand. One of the ways to do that is to assign them a room in the house and keep that as their chore for a solid year, so they have time to master it. Eventually, it will become routine. In the Hagaman home, your bedroom is ALWAYS on the chore list, in addition to other rooms.
Most kids want to know there’s a beginning and an ending to the daunting task of cleaning their room. So give them a time frame and set a timer. If they clean their room for 15 minutes each day, they will have a room that doesn’t feel so out of control (in most cases).
Remember, the goal is to become a mini expert at cleaning their room. So write down exactly what needs to be done. Give them a time frame. We suggest first thing in the morning. Have them start with making their bed. That can be their starting point. They can go clockwise around their room, starting from top to bottom. Create a detailed chore list. Use pictures for younger children. Slip your list in a plastic sheet cover, and use a dry erase marker to cross chores off as they are done.
Here are some tips for your chore list:
- tasks need to be written down in detail
- put them in the order they need to be done
- write out “how” to do it or clean it and what cleaners to use
- make sure everything they need to put away has a home
- always get an inspection to be considered completed
Routines impress upon your children what is important to your family. Routines create safety, security and stability and make it easier for children to deal with stressful situations, such as:
- beginning a new class
- attending an activity for the first time
- the birth of a new sibling
- entertaining company
Routines for older kids help them develop a sense of responsibility and basic work skills and time management. So, make cleaning routines an important part of your family culture.