In part one of How to Clean House with Children, I briefly mentioned a few rules we follow for trying to keep our house clean. Even though we do have rules, I still try to make it fun! It is very important for children to have fun while they are doing something and learn to enjoy it instead of dreading a task. I NEVER had fun cleaning when I was growing up. There was never a reward at the end, only more messes and more cleaning and more work! The work seemed never to end so I could actually have fun! My husband and his family were opposite! They had fun while they work! Below are a few tips for making things fun which work for our family.
- Sing a song! We all know the song, “Whistle while you work….” It really does help make things fun to sing while we are working. I have a few little songs I sing to the younger ones which they love! Then, once they are older we sing other songs with which we are all familiar!
One song we sing while picking up toys is “Paw Paw Patch,” but here are the words we use:
“Where oh, where oh where is Wyatt? Where oh, where oh, where is Wyatt. Where oh, where, oh where is Wyatt? Way down yonder in the living room (or wherever you are). Picking up toys and putting them in the basket, picking up toys and putting them in the basket, picking up toys and putting them in the basket, way down yonder in the living room!”
Another song is “Mommy’s Wonderful Helper.” I sing it using each child’s name who is helping me.
“Wyatt is Mommy’s wonderful helper. Nobody has a Wyatt like mine! Wyatt is Mommy’s wonderful helper! Nobody has a Wyatt like mine!”
Those are just two of the songs we use. Children LOVE songs where their name is included so I try to make up songs as we go to whatever tune about each child making sure to use their name! The little ones love it! The big ones like it too! You will be amazed at the new attitude the child will have most of the time when they hear their name being sung and how important they are!
2. Make it a game. Challenge the children to see who can get a basket full of toys, dirty clothes, trash, etc. the fastest! Whoever wins can pick a song to sing or a game to play later or even get served first at meal time. You choose the reward. I have even given out stickers. There are many other games too. For the non-carpeted floors, I will le them write with dry erase markers in a tile and then clean that entire tile. Sometimes I will even write the letters for their name in each tile and they have to find all the letters while cleaning the tile completely. There are days where we have scavenger hunts and the person to find the most things on the list will usually get a sticker or some type of reward.
3. Tell jokes or stories to each other while you are cleaning. My children love for me to tell them stories about when I was little.
4. Read to the children while they work. Often early in pregnancy or even in middle to late pregnancy, I will be pretty tired and need to just sit down and rest. My children love to be read to. We will go from room to room with me reading while they clean! The time goes by so much faster, and everyone is having a good time! I am also getting much needed rest!
5. Try to be praising and not critical. It is very important not to nit pick every little thing the children are doing. They will become discouraged! As long as they are doing things the best they can, it is okay if it is not done absolutely perfectly! I remember how crushed I was as a child when I thought I had done an excellent job and the best I could do only to have a parent or usually a teacher tell me it was not good enough and to start over and do it again! It is okay to make corrections and show them how to properly do a job and it is okay to make sure they know “Whatever their hand finds to do to do it with all of their might.” But it is not okay to just constantly criticize! My dad was in the Marines and could make beds with NO wrinkles, creases, etc. in them! They were perfectly made! I never perfected that art, but he always expected my bed to be made perfectly. Unfortunately, it never was good enough for him! I am thankful for my three year old who even makes the effort to make his bed! He does a great job too. No, it is not always perfect, but it does look nice and neat and awesome for a three year old! I do expect my children to follow through with a job and shoddy work is unacceptable, but I know what they are capable of doing and what they are not or at least have some idea! For instance, when my oldest two get finished milking the goats and do not rinse out the milk bucket or throw out the water for the ice bath to chill the milk, I know they were not doing their best. They know to do these things, and I will remind them to finish their job completely!
6. If things are not going well and everyone is having an ‘I don’t feel like working day,” just “Contol, ALT, Reset!” as I like to stay! In other words, just start over. No big deal! The messes will still be there tomorrow. Maybe the children just need a little extra love and attention from Mommy! Stop what you are doing and give it to them! We have these days from time to time whether we are cleaning or doing school work or other things! We just have to stop and start again! Sometimes we get back on track for the day, and other times we do not. No big deal! It will still all be there tomorrow for us to do!
7. Ask your children for input. My children often have great ideas of how to make the work more fun! I have no problem with entertaining their ideas as long as we can stay on task and get the job done right! We have a lot of fun this way, and they love to be able to be involved too! It really builds their self worth to be involved and feel important which they are and should feel that way!
There are many other ways to make cleaning house fun with your children. I would love to hear ways you make things fun with your children! Next week I will start with cleaning the different rooms of the house and give some tips and pointers which work for our family! Again, I am sharing what works for us! Realize all families are different and what works for one may not work for all!