Teaching Your Children Independence Through Cleaning


Ah, the joys of having children. You love them to death, but they're loud, they're demanding and oh boy, are they messy. Some might call it a mother's duty to clean up after your children, but you know that isn't the case at all: Your real duty as a mother is teaching your kids to clean up after themselves. It's easier than you think to get them well-trained on how to pick up as they grow older.

Pick Up Messes Before They Get Bigger

When you start teaching your kids early on to clean up what they're doing before moving onto the next thing, a funny thing happens: Routine. It soon becomes a habit to put away the current toy before pulling out another one, making it easier for the rest of the family to not have to worry about accidentally stepping on toys that are scattered all over the place.

Offer Incentives

You're thinking "That's a fancy word for a bribe," aren't you? Although we're all guilty of a small bribe here or there with our kids ("If you're quiet at the store I'll give you gum in the car!"), this is different; an incentive rewards them for good behavior and encourages them to keep doing it. Try a sticker chart: For every time they remember to put their toys away, they earn a sticker. After however many (ten, fifteen, your choice) offer some kind of reward; i.e.: you all order pizza that night. For every time Junior forgets to put their away toys, a sticker gets taken away. See the motivation here?

Have a Toy Jail

This one gets kiddos' attention pretty fast. If they are continuing to leave toys all over the place, pick them up and lock them in "jail." This can be anything from a high cabinet to your personal safe, but make it clear that until they show that they can be responsible enough to put away their own toys, they don't get anything back. If you're the creative type you might be able to think of a way for them to get them back through extra chores, but that's a personal choice.

Start Locking Up Chargers

For older kids especially this is a biggie. Screen time is super important to kids since it's their main method of communication to the outside world. To really get the message across, take chargers for phones, tablets, video games and any other device from your kids and keep them locked up. This is the toy jail for big kids; if they want to have access to their devices again, then the mess had better be cleaned up soon!

Teach Deep Cleaning

There's nothing wrong with teaching kids the finer aspects of a deep clean. Explain the concept of germs to them and why it's so important to keep our homes clean to get rid of them.

Stains On Shoes

We already established that our little mini-mes are dirty, which means that their shoes can take quite a beating too. Show them how to use a Crep Protect Kit to get their stained, muddy shoes looking like new again.

Changing and Washing Sheets and Blankets

Did you know that it's recommended that you wash your sheets every two weeks, if not every week? This is important for any age group, so even if your littles are too small to do their own laundry, you can at least teach them the art of making a bed with fresh sheets.

Dusting and Cleaning Surfaces

Bookcases, shelves and tabletops can get grimy and dusty. Show them how to remove all the dust with a cloth or duster first, then wash the surface down with a nontoxic all-purpose cleaning solution.

Doing your duty as a mother is not cleaning up after your kids; it's giving them the tools to be independent and learn life skills on their own. Teaching your children to become self-sufficient adults is the most important duty of them all.