How to get 2.5 yo & 4.5 yo to help CLEAN house? - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 17 Old 07-14-2009, 02:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all -

I have a 2.5 yo and 4.5 yo. I know kids love to clean.... I should have a spotless house!

We've had moments when they get into helping me do/fold laundry, unload the dishwasher (2 yo hands it from the dishwasher to the 4 yo - that that sanitary - but it gets done! ). And a few times detail cleaning their chairs (which get so gross).

But I honestly can't take more 'confrontation' some days... just the resistance... So they do get involved but its not daily.... what do you do to make it fun?
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#2 of 17 Old 07-14-2009, 06:43 AM
 
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I think the attitude sets the level of resistance here. If I'm having FUN cleaning, so will those around me. We use special music, race to pick up X number of things, have pretty smelling cleaning supplies, and keep a routine.

EVERY morning, everybody in the home is expected to make the beds, tidy the bedrooms, and pick up after breakfast. We all work at the same time, we all finish about the same time. Occasionally we'll do inspections, lol....I turn into the Dr. Weird or Wicked Witch or Stuck Up Queen and proclaim that today, and only today, he has escaped the dungeon/experiment chamber/being turned into a toad.

We have a rule here that at dinner everyone helps to the best of their abilities, too - "the table needs to be set and the salad needs to be put together. Who wants which job?" or "Mind setting the table?" as I load silverware and napkins into a hand. Even a 2.5yo can do this, with placemats that have outlines of the different tableware on them.



I think kids need to feel needed. If they just help with a job sometimes, they see that it doesn't really matter what they do - someone else will pick up the slack. If they have a job alone and they're being counted on to do it, they feel more responsible and like part of the home community.
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#3 of 17 Old 07-14-2009, 06:43 AM
 
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My kids are similar ages, and I give them their own child size mops, broom and dustpan, toy vaccuum, and real spray bottles with water, real cleaning rags, small feather dusters. This gives them something to do to play, imitate, and "work" alongside me. Turning music on at the same time helps.

But, I do not approach it as this being a responsibility, a chore, something they *should* be doing; rather, I ask them "would you like to do it with me?" Maybe even, "I think it's more fun to do it together, what do you think?"

If they say no, that is fine. If they only want to do it for 5 minutes, that is fine. I think it's more important to model that I like to do it, that I enjoy it, that I feel satisifed when I do it.

My own mother succeeded in "training me" to do chores, but at the expense that my husband would ask when we were first married "why are you so tense when you clean? why are you so stressed out? if it bothers you that much just don't do it. the atmosphere you are creating is worse than the mess."

Now I ask myself- what is the use of vacuuming the floor when I spew dirty emotions into the air? I wait until I can do it with grace. I light candles in the room I'm cleaning in, use an aromatherapy diffuser, and truly enjoy the process, all the while treating the room as an "art project" to creatively effect... and thanking God for all the blessings I have (my house is a palace compared to the living conditions of many people around the globe throughout history).

I want my kids to grow up to do these chores for the "right" reasons (enjoying a bright and easy to move around in/find stuff in environment, maintenance of possessions/house to ensure continued usefulness, etc) which may not be developmentally appropriate at age 2 and 4; at age 2 and 4, play, imitation, and doing stuff with mommy seems age appropriate (for my kids anyway).
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#4 of 17 Old 07-14-2009, 07:25 AM
 
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I think kids need to feel needed. If they just help with a job sometimes, they see that it doesn't really matter what they do - someone else will pick up the slack. If they have a job alone and they're being counted on to do it, they feel more responsible and like part of the home community.
This idea reminded me of something I've heard. I live in a largely Amish community and it has been said either by or of the Amish in regards to labor, that until age 7, children are (for lack of a better term) a liability; from 7-14, they "break even", and from 14-21, they are an asset. Obviously this is in terms of resources NOT in the overall attitude they view their kids with. I also see the feeling "needed" happening in their lives once they are a bit older, where their livelihoods are actually tied up in how much physical work they can accomplish.

But, this is just not the dynamic I see in most modern families I. I wonder if, in our current society, we can truly give our children a sense they are "needed" in regards to household duties without it seeming pretentious. I guess I am aiming more for "feeling included" than feeling "needed", in regards to chores. To be honest, when they are really little, its a lot easier to do it myself than to sit there and explain it to them or redo/finish it when they've moved onto something else. That doesn't mean I don't take that extra time, of course; but I really doubt my kids would believe me if I were to approach them with the attitude I "needed" them to help. Maybe they would feel that way down the road if family size increases and they get older...? But when they are little, I see a sense of accomplishment when they do something around the house I do, rather than a feeling that their effort was "needed".

I wonder, does anyone see something wrong with a society where a small child's work is not "needed", just "appreciated"...?
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#5 of 17 Old 07-14-2009, 08:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by momma_unlimited View Post
This idea reminded me of something I've heard. I live in a largely Amish community and it has been said either by or of the Amish in regards to labor, that until age 7, children are (for lack of a better term) a liability; from 7-14, they "break even", and from 14-21, they are an asset. Obviously this is in terms of resources NOT in the overall attitude they view their kids with. I also see the feeling "needed" happening in their lives once they are a bit older, where their livelihoods are actually tied up in how much physical work they can accomplish.

But, this is just not the dynamic I see in most modern families I. I wonder if, in our current society, we can truly give our children a sense they are "needed" in regards to household duties without it seeming pretentious. I guess I am aiming more for "feeling included" than feeling "needed", in regards to chores. To be honest, when they are really little, its a lot easier to do it myself than to sit there and explain it to them or redo/finish it when they've moved onto something else. That doesn't mean I don't take that extra time, of course; but I really doubt my kids would believe me if I were to approach them with the attitude I "needed" them to help. Maybe they would feel that way down the road if family size increases and they get older...? But when they are little, I see a sense of accomplishment when they do something around the house I do, rather than a feeling that their effort was "needed".

I wonder, does anyone see something wrong with a society where a small child's work is not "needed", just "appreciated"...?
I think being on opposite ends of the arrangement affect feelings. A child can feel needed, while the adult can simply appreciate the work the child has done. It doesn't mean that either side is right or more valid than the other, only that the perception is different.

And I do agree with the Amish thinking. In the early years, it's a lot of teaching, routines, and below standard results when they do the jobs. As they grow, they branch out more, have the ability to maintain simple standards, and create their own along with their own jobs. They carve out a niche for themselves and become more perceptive about what needs to be done.
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#6 of 17 Old 07-14-2009, 04:45 PM
 
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I really love the way momma_unlimited and Liliygrace spoke..

thankyou for eyeopeners.

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#7 of 17 Old 07-14-2009, 10:21 PM
 
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I think being on opposite ends of the arrangement affect feelings. A child can feel needed, while the adult can simply appreciate the work the child has done. It doesn't mean that either side is right or more valid than the other, only that the perception is different.
Good point. I can see this with some personalities, for sure. For some reason, with my personality, I feel overwhelmed when people "need" me, or afraid of disappointing them if they are depending on me. Maybe I have projected this onto my kids when in reality, they wouldn't feel overwhelmed or fear disappointing because they are unique individuals.
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#8 of 17 Old 07-14-2009, 10:26 PM
 
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My boys are tornados, they follow me around wreaking havoc lol, if you ever figure out the secret to having them be neat and tidy please let me know.

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#9 of 17 Old 07-15-2009, 01:26 AM
 
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With my younger two (3 and almost 2), I'll give them damp sponges and go "The walls in here are so dirty! Who can wash the wall faster?" Then they'll wipe at it until they lose interest, usually 3-6 minutes.

My 5yo, 3yo and 1yo all like to use the Swiffer, so after I sweep, I'll pick one of them to do it first, then the others fight over who gets to be next. They all end up taking a turn.

None of the kids like putting things away. Only the 8yo and 5yo really do it so far. I set a timer for 5 minutes and pick up things with them, help show them where things go, etc.

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#10 of 17 Old 07-15-2009, 02:34 AM
 
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Originally Posted by LilyGrace View Post
I think the attitude sets the level of resistance here. If I'm having FUN cleaning, so will those around me. We use special music, race to pick up X number of things, have pretty smelling cleaning supplies, and keep a routine.
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Now I ask myself- what is the use of vacuuming the floor when I spew dirty emotions into the air? I wait until I can do it with grace. I light candles in the room I'm cleaning in, use an aromatherapy diffuser, and truly enjoy the process, all the while treating the room as an "art project" to creatively effect... and thanking God for all the blessings I have (my house is a palace compared to the living conditions of many people around the globe throughout history).
Thank you. I think these things are exactly my problem. I too have been wondering how to get my kids to pick up after themselves. I know in my heart that I need to set a better example, but more importantly, that I need to have a good attitude about cleaning and find some joy in it. I have an extremely hard time keeping the house clean. Hard time keeping to any schedule or routine. I grew up in a house filled with clutter. Not talking about knick knacks all over...I mean piles, heaps, boxes, junk everywhere. We never had people come over. My mom was depressed and did nothing but go to work and sleep. My sister and I did the bare minimum. Vacuum, dishes when we needed clean ones and did our own laundry from the time we were able. I finally feel like I know what a normal cleaning schedule should be, but I don't know that it will ever be second nature.

Cleaning does not feel joyful to me. I think there are so many negative emotions wrapped up in it. I try to think of it as honoring my home... Right now it is hard to not be bitter that I am the only one doing any cleaning. DH works long hours, and doesn't clean much even when he doesn't. I appreciate that he is taking care of the family financially, but I still resent this division of labor and feeling like I will never do anything but manage this household (poorly) and homeschool our kids. Also PMSing at the moment.
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#11 of 17 Old 07-15-2009, 08:34 AM
 
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I finally feel like I know what a normal cleaning schedule should be, but I don't know that it will ever be second nature.

I still resent this division of labor and feeling like I will never do anything but manage this household (poorly)


It helped me to finally erase the notion of "should". To be able to look at my Martha Stewart Homekeeping Handbook schedule and say internally "good for you, you have so much help to keep your house ideally. Now I will go and find my own ideal". My ideal turns out to be keeping the kitchen counter and kitchen table top clear 99% of the time so I am not so overwhelmed by the mess that I avoid cooking or feel compelled to eat in other rooms, and picking up toys on the floor at night. Beyond that, if I start to feel like a room is dragging down my energy or causing me to feel "stuck", I give it some attention. I actually do have a household management binder I made myself, but I only use it if I wake up and feel overwhelmed by the sudden turn for the worse my house has taken (happens quick doesn't it!); it gives me a starting point so I don't have to think about it or make a decision, I can just pick up on the chores I assigned to that day until my kids start showing *they* are the one who need all the attention.

Have you ever heard of NVC (non-violent communication)? Highly recommend it! It helped me get over the resentment I had regarding division of labor issues- helped me deal objectively with the negative emotions that come up for me. I learned I do not have to, must, need to, should, or ought to clean my house- I CHOOSE to clean my house! I have only me to blame if I decide to take it upon myself to clean, and I allow myself the same free will/respect I allow others (I don't try to force my husband to help me, neither do I try to force *myself* to help me!). It may just sound like semantics.. but I needed that shift of perspective.

By the way, I think my philosophy does work- my 2 yr old ALWAYS cleans with me for a good while and my 4 yr old will too if the activity is interesting (not so much picking up a huge mess of toys, for that he tells me "It's more fun to do it together)- he enjoys things like mopping, or cleaning the bathtub with a scrubber (I make a safe softscrub with baking soda, vinegar, peppermint and Dr. Bronner's).
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#12 of 17 Old 07-15-2009, 08:47 AM
 
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Great posts here, thank you!! This is definitely a thread I need right now.
My house is well, not terrible, but I do the bare minimum and feel overwhelmed by the teenage boy who cannot see any mess and creates a lot of it, plus my DH who also doesn't really notice it and leaves stuff everywhere.

It seems like I can never catch up and so I tend to just let it go...

But, DD is only 3.5 and I really want her to grow up seeing it managed in a better way than DS. We were so rushed when he was little that I think I never got around to actually teaching him an appreciation for a less cluttered, more peaceful atmosphere.

I belong to a group called Buddhamom, though it's been a while, and I really want to get back to trying to practice what we used to do.

It's taking things a little slower and a lot more mindfully, so that cleaning isn't such a chore, it's more of giving to yourself and your family.

I used to do it with DD until this past year and it was really good.
She loved helping because I slowed down and we did things together like washing dishes, enjoying how the water felt, etc...
Then she was always asking to help and it was like play for her instead of work.

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#13 of 17 Old 07-15-2009, 10:00 PM
 
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nothing to add. agree w/ previous posters.

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#14 of 17 Old 07-16-2009, 11:21 PM
 
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This idea reminded me of something I've heard. I live in a largely Amish community and it has been said either by or of the Amish in regards to labor, that until age 7, children are (for lack of a better term) a liability; from 7-14, they "break even", and from 14-21, they are an asset. Obviously this is in terms of resources NOT in the overall attitude they view their kids with. I also see the feeling "needed" happening in their lives once they are a bit older, where their livelihoods are actually tied up in how much physical work they can accomplish.

But, this is just not the dynamic I see in most modern families I. I wonder if, in our current society, we can truly give our children a sense they are "needed" in regards to household duties without it seeming pretentious. I guess I am aiming more for "feeling included" than feeling "needed", in regards to chores. To be honest, when they are really little, its a lot easier to do it myself than to sit there and explain it to them or redo/finish it when they've moved onto something else. That doesn't mean I don't take that extra time, of course; but I really doubt my kids would believe me if I were to approach them with the attitude I "needed" them to help. Maybe they would feel that way down the road if family size increases and they get older...? But when they are little, I see a sense of accomplishment when they do something around the house I do, rather than a feeling that their effort was "needed".

I wonder, does anyone see something wrong with a society where a small child's work is not "needed", just "appreciated"...?
I'm of two minds about this (I seem to be about most things, which is probably why my children don't follow my lead as much as I wish they would). I actually *do* need my children to pitch in sometimes. Now that there are three of them and only one of me. I often do say sometimes, "I can't do it, my hands are full," or "I can't help you right now, I'm carrying two children, so please ___". So I don't think it's pretentious or ridiculous that the children will be needed to help around the house.

But also that doesn't seem to make my children feel any more joyful, confident or competent about helping. They usually help most cheerfully when they aren't required to do it. When it's sort of expected and appreciated but also if I'm not disappointed if they don't keep at it for long... I don't know. I can just do it myself, but then again, I can't do it ALL myself ALL the time.
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#15 of 17 Old 07-16-2009, 11:54 PM
 
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I don't usually post on this board, but I had to reply to this thread...

We (or should I say I) decided that our kids are old enough to start helping out around the house too as of last week. I sat down and talked to the kids (4.5 dd, 2.5 dd, and 7 SS) about how what they thought was reasonable for them to do. And got them involved in the whole process right down to making the chart up.

It ended up like this for their daily chores:
4.5 yr old will clean her room, straighten up living room and vacuum it using the little battery vacuum, and straighten up the shoes by the front door.

7 yr old (when he's here) will clean his room, keep toilet paper roll filled, sweep kitchen/dining room floor, wipe down kitchen table.

2 yr old straightens her room, and holds dust pan for the 7 yr old.

I made a chart for them with their names, and instead of writing out the chores we have a picture of a bed for bedrooms, broom for sweeping, a couch for living room, etc. Each of the kids picked out what picture they wanted, and the color of their name on the chart. At the end of the day they have to do their chores, and they can make the mark under the appropriate day. If they complete all the chores, they get 30 min of TV before bed. If we have to remind them, or they choose not to do them, they go straight to bed. Most nights its a race between the 4 and 7 yr olds to see who is done first, and they like to see who gets their marks for the longest. The 4 yr old is actually now teaching the 2 yr old how to pick up her room faster too, so she can get her marks before the 7 yr old, and they are not only helping me keep the house clean, but they are learning to work together as a team instead of fighting like they used to.
We've only been doing this for a week now and HOLY COW! What an improvement on both helping mom keep the house clean, and their attitudes about cleaning. If I happen to ask for help on something not on the list I don't get the whiny meltdown anymore...thank goodness! The 4 yr old is now straightening things up throughout the day in her room and living room so she doesn't have to do so much at night. ( she even disciplined dad about how he should set his work boots upright when he takes them off at night when he came home tonight...that was priceless!) This has really worked for us and DH even made a comment on it tonight at dinner. It has become a routine for them now, and they just know they have to help mom out. It has really taken a lot of stress off me too with another coming really soon too. All in all everyone has said they like doing things this way. 4 yr old DD told me tonight as I was tucking her in, "mommy, i really like helping you now. you do more stuff with us then you used to, and i really like it." She's now noticed that I'm not so stressed about the house, and just by them doing a little to help out, it gives me more energy and time to play with them or even just sit and hold them like I used to. It made my heart just feel gooey when she said that.

Just thought I'd post...who knows maybe it would help in your sit too?

Crystal- aka "Momma" toLara Karlene 1-1-05 ~ Keira Skyler 1-31-07 ~ Rohnin Viper 8-12-09 & stork-suprise.gif March 2014!!!!

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#16 of 17 Old 07-18-2009, 12:44 AM
 
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I made a chart for them with their names, and instead of writing out the chores we have a picture of a bed for bedrooms, broom for sweeping, a couch for living room, etc. Each of the kids picked out what picture they wanted, and the color of their name on the chart. At the end of the day they have to do their chores, and they can make the mark under the appropriate day. If they complete all the chores, they get 30 min of TV before bed.
I just started something similar for my oldest, who is 6. He has a chart of morning tasks he's to accomplish before breakfast which includes hygene things plus taking care of his dirty laundry, making the bed, and tidying his bedroom floor. He'd get ready for the day but leave dirty underwear on the floor, dresser drawers standing open, etc. My goal was to help him get more tidier in his routine without constant reminding, and so far it's worked great. For each step/task completed he gets to put a sticker on his chart. He gets very proud of completing all the steps without me having to say anything.
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#17 of 17 Old 07-18-2009, 03:41 PM
 
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Check out this book. Pick Up Your Socks by Elizabeth Crary. Its great. Practical advice on how to encourage responsability and help around the house.

We practice gentle discipline and i think the advice in this book is compatible.

http://www.parentingpress.com/toc_sock.html
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