Getting kids to clean up

    09 May 2016


    We all know we should encourage it. Most families have an opinion on it – and our view on how important it is varies radically depending upon our age (hint: the younger we are, the less it matters!) In fact, dare we say it? It’s one of those topics that makes us sound a lot like our own parents.

    What age-old dilemma are we talking about? Getting the kids to clean up around the house.

    The real paradox is that when our children are at the stage that they are busting to help, we secretly don’t want them to. Well, we’re in a rush and, honestly, it’s far easier to do it ourselves. By the time those kids are old enough to do jobs independently, they have far more important things to do! I mean, why clean the toilet every day/week/month anyway - it only gets dirty again?!

    We recently asked Earthwise fans to tell us what works best with the kids in their house – to clean or not to clean?

    It seems that tactics vary most according to the age of the children involved. It probably comes as no surprise to find that our preschoolers are more willing to get involved than our teens! A wise fan pointed out that taking time to involve littlies in the early days vastly increases your chances of kids mucking in ten years later. No pain, no gain.

    “Say yes even though you know the result will be less than perfect and you could do it quicker yourself. Put some music on and make it fun.”

    Other fans (with young children) focus on rewarding effort with games and treats. One enterprising family has even created a ‘caught you being good’ jar. “If they do a good thing they get a pompom in the jar. When the jar is full it's a kids’ choice activity!”

    Making it fun is also a favourite tactic – and several fans aren’t averse to introducing some healthy competition into the mix. Boys versus girls and time limits to find out who can clean the quickest all seem to do the trick with our younger ones. The Clean Up song can also be heard echoing all around New Zealand when it’s time to pack toys away for the day – we’ve got a lot to thank Barney the Dinosaur for it would seem.

    For families with older children, tactics become more pragmatic with slightly less of an emphasis on fun!

    Who knew that the internet could be such a useful cleaning device? Apparently turning off the WIFI until jobs are done is a surefire route to a tidy bedroom or sparkling house. Another favourite seems to be offering the new WIFI password in exchange for jobs completed. Genius.

    If you need to get hard line, going on strike also works (particularly just before your teen needs a lift to a social engagement or it’s close to dinner-time). When chef and taxi services are suspended, magically (although not necessarily silently) they will clean.

    For some families, scheduling a compulsory cleaning session and then getting in there and leading from the front is a winner. “Saturday mornings are the house-cleaning session for the week in our house. Every member of the family has to participate before enjoying our weekend. My kids feel a sense of belonging and ownership as they put in effort cleaning/tidying the house. And a sweet treat awaits them after every workout session.”

    If allocating chores causes issues, try drawing lots. Some fans find that their teens prefer arguing over who does what to actually doing the work – even though they know they are only delaying the inevitable. If one task is particularly onerous, making it a two-man job with a parent to help often sweetens the pill.

    We’ve left our favourite piece of advice to last – and our team’s all set to try this one out: “Sing like Mary Poppins and hope for the best!” Why don’t you join in and let us know how it works out in your house!