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Making quarantine-housecleaning fun for kids while keeping your sanity

As families all over the country are spending an inordinate amount of time together these days due to the pandemic, parents would be wise to use this time to have kids pitch in where housework is concerned.

You can talk all you want about how kids having specific chores around the house is character-building, but getting kids to do the same tasks everyone else considers drudgery is no cakewalk. Annette Belnap, a professional blogger and mother of five (TipsFromATypicalMomBlog), says it’s important first of all to get kids to take care and clean up after themselves. “My kids actually do a lot of their own things. They do their own laundry, the dishes, they mop and vacuum and they keep their rooms clean (for the most part, haha!).”

For guidance on a list of chores kids can do according to age, use your friendly computer search engine, and you’ll be able to chart out what typically needs to be done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. “Kids are capable of doing a lot more than parents think they can,” says Belnap. “That being said, every child is different, and they need different motivational techniques.” With five children, Belnap knows what works for one of her kids might not work for another. “I know that one child needs a checklist, and one needs to cleaning to be made into a game. One child needs music playing, and one child needs to just be left alone to do his work.”

Making housework fun takes creativity. For instance, Belnap has a child grab an empty laundry basket and walk around the house, looking for anything that is not in place, adding it to the basket. It’s like a treasure hunt -- toys that belong in each room and not all piled up in the family room or shoes and coats that never got put away after the last romp in the backyard. This chore is typically done before that child gets to do something they personally consider fun. Yes. Dealmaking is alive and well.

To make things more interesting, set a timer for a designated number of minutes, and make things a contest. “Everyone runs around the house looking for things that are not in their place and adds them to their bag (whether the item is theirs or not). Everyone gets a penny or a dime for each thing in their bag once it’s put back in its place! My kids love this game!”

Belnap has gone so far as to order a “Laminated Kids Apron” (the apron is laminated — not the kids) from Amazon. “Then teach your kids that while they are cleaning a room, if they come across something that doesn’t belong in that room, they put it in the apron pocket and put it away after they are done in the room.”

Of course, games are always useful. “Tell the kids to look for everything white. Pick it up and put it away, then come and report to me. Then I say look for everything green, pick it up, put it away, then come and report to me… it works like a charm for little ones, and it helps them learn their colors.” She also uses tactics that separate chores by their purpose —things you wear, things you play, etc., making it into a kind of kiddie scavenger hunt.

Set a time for each chore, having determined on your own how long it takes to do each one and allowing a bit more time for kids to do them than grown adults, and rewards can be given if they finish before the timer goes off. Checklists are vital in helping to determine reasonable prizes (screen time, backyard play, or a DVD they want to replay). Food rewards are not the best incentive, since most kids look to fat or sugar as a treat. Belnap has a system set up using puzzle pieces. She also uses photos and videos since kids are extremely visual. What does a properly loaded dishwasher look like? How do you clean a toilet, and what tools are needed for this unsavory job? You can even post lists on each kitchen cabinet door and drawer specifying what is contained in each.

Before bedtime, she holds a speed-cleaning session, gathering the whole family together in the kitchen and setting the timer for 5 minutes, or turning on a song. “See if the family can beat the timer or the song by getting the kitchen clean, then move from room to room, finishing the living areas of the house. You will all feel better about going to sleep with a picked up house. It’s much easier if everyone helps too.”

Getting organized-creative can prevent crying, screaming, or constant reminding. Cleaning can actually be a fun time the family spends together. Be mindful of the fact that perfection is elusive, and kids are still learning as they go. No white glove tests. Just love.

Source: TipsFromATypicalMomBlog | TBWS

Family, Misc