Saturday Cleaning

How to Make it Fun and Get Your Kids to Help

Saturday Cleaning

Saturday cleaning can be grueling on many levels. You may hate it because you've already worked all week. Your kids hate it because . . .  Well, they just hate it. They don't enjoy chores, it's Saturday, and they'll do anything to get around it.  Maybe you don't clean on Saturday, but if not, you likely try and sandwich it in yourself during the week. I know mom's who get up an extra hour early to clean before going to work, or they spend their late hours before bed cleaning, or drudge through it on Sunday which becomes another workday for them.

If your kids are old enough to participate in cleaning, then get them to join in. They need to learn the skills, and they should help. Don't be a slave mom (or slave dad)!

Make it fun!

In my family, all the kids cleaned. My brother can clean a bathroom better than anyone I know, and every one of us (there are many), learned how to break down cleaning chores into steps, which we then prioritized, and finished.

There was a catch, though, and that was to make it fun. We would put on music, crank it up, and sing and dance as we cleaned. It's a habit that stayed with all of us to this day. When it's time to clean, crank up the music and go full force. We didn't have iPods at that time, and it really is better not to use them for this situation. The idea is to share the music, so it should float through the whole house.

Here's how to do it.

To try this out, pick a Saturday morning (late morning if you want), and get everybody on board ahead of time. Decide who's going to do what part of the cleaning. Make a big list and have everybody review it so they know exactly what their part will be. Then let the kids pick the music they like. Create a playlist and get it ready for the big event.

Make sure everyone's eaten first, is fully awake and ready to go, and then crank up the music and start cleaning. You can supervise by monitoring how everyone is doing and make sure the tasks get done the way you would like, but I would advise not gettingt too focused on performance. If you make a habit of cleaning as a group, your kids will get better at it each time they do it.

It does help to initially show your kids how to clean, and to help them figure out how to break things down into smaller steps. When your child is tackling a new task, do it with him the first time and walk through all of the steps. Start small, and pay attention to your child's developmental age. Don't expect more than he is capable of handling.

There's lots of benefits.

The side benefits to cleaning as a group is that it not only makes it fun, it teaches several other skills and values at the same time:

  • Provides the experience of working as a team to reach a goal
  • Creates and endorses the sense of belonging to a group
  • Provides a sense of satisfaction for contributing to the care of the family
  • Teaches skills in organizing and prioritizing
  • Sets your children up to know how to take care of themselves when they're older

When I went to college for the first time, I roomed in a dorm with my best friend from high school. She came from a well to do family, and she had never up to that point done a load of laundry, made her own bed, or cleaned any room in her house. She didn't know how to hold a broom and sweep. Her family had a housekeeper and her mom had always made her bed for her. It was a rude awakening for her.

I had learned how to do all of those things growing up and they were second nature to me. I remember feeling happy that my mom had taught me how to clean, cook, and do laundry. My dad had taught me how to handle a checkbook and balance a bank statement.

Teaching basic skills like this is really important. Your kids may complain now, but they will thank you later because they will know how to take care of themselves and will feel confident as a result. And you should not be doing all of the work in the house. Too many parents fall into this trap which I call the "slave parent syndrome." Your kids should learn early on that part of being in a family is contributing to it and participating in taking care of it. But there's no reason why that can't be fun at the same time.

So crank up the music, hand over the vacuum cleaner, and give your kids a gift they will use and appreciate later.

P.S. - The picture is pretty funky. I know, but I couldn't resist. Look at that guy!:)))

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