Letting yout small child join in as you clean keeps them occupied and allows you to work faster.
Most children love to clean up along with you. In fact, much of the Montessori Method of early childhood education makes use of this fact. If you notice their “work”, praise it, and take it seriously, you’ll keep them interested and you might also instill some good future work habits. Don’t tune out; keep them included in the process. Fun music helps too, like a rousing Sousa march!
1. Have a small broom and dust pan set for your child, but real-something that works. For littlest ones, mark off a place on the floor for them to push past.
2. Assign your child the task of emptying the 25 lb. dogfood into the big container, one cup at a time.
Spillage? Whatever falls on the floor is the dog’s, right?
3. Give your children damp sponges and let them “clean” appliances.
You can put water in a very clean, well-rinsed spray bottle. Do NOT let them have a regular spray bottle with cleanser in it; they tend to turn it toward themselves and spray their face/eyes. Washing low windows can work for a while too; provide newsprint and a small dish of clear water. (Buy unprinted newsprint from U-Haul. It’s cleaner.) 4. Give your child a plain cloth with nothing on it and ask them to “dust”.
Teach — show them the dust, and the “before” and “after”. 5. When you’re cleaning the bathroom, put a little water and some baby shampoo in the bath tub, give them a scrungy, and let them “scrub” while you’re doing other things. Remember to keep checking on progress; this keeps them interested. 6. A lot of housework revolves around the kitchen. If you’re lucky, it leads to the back door and possibly car port or yard. Keep a sandbox near the back door – you can leave the door open and check on your child as you move about. That’s how I prepared many a gourmet meal for company when my son was little.
7. Washing projects!
I let my grand-daughter “wash” the car port (at her house) and the back patio (at mine). I give her a brush, small broom and bucket of soapy water. She scrubs away, proud of helping. Usually good for at least 30 minutes.
8. Working outside?
Give your child a bucket with a scoop or plastic cup and let them water the flowers, or a large, sturdy spoon and ask them to dig for earthworms. Child’s garden gloves, watering can and child-size tools available here.
9. Even small children can empty the clothes dryer into a hamper.
They also like to load clothes into the washer, and, if old enough, add the washing powder or liquid. Pushing all those buttons is great fun too. My grand-son, not yet 2, knows the sounds when the dryer, coffee and microwave are “done”. As you work, identify these sounds, and then ask the child to let you know when the buzzer goes off. Tell them that’s their “job”.
10. When you’re folding laundry and putting it away?
Let your child “fold” his or her underpants and socks while you’re putting away the laundry. Unless you’re super-compulsive, it doesn’t matter what goes in the underwear drawer, and it can keep your child busy.
11. My daughter-in-law keeps a floor-length mirror in the bedroom. Her preschooler will often get involved preening and prancing in front of the mirror and she can get the BR cleaned faster.
12. Load the dishwasher! Dump all the silverware and unbreakable items on a dish towel on the floor and let your child load the dishwasher. Show them where and how the different things go.
Remember, learning has a huge emotional component. Your attitude as you clean, and allow your child to join in, forms habits of a lifetime.
About the Author
Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, GLOBAL EQ. Emotional intelligence coaching to enhance all areas of your life – career, relationships, midlife transition, resilience, self-esteem, parenting. EQ Alive! – excellent, accelerated, affordable EQ coach certification. Susan is the author of numerous ebooks, is widely published on the Internet, and a regular speaker for cruise lines. For marketing services go here.