Imagine the following scenario: coming home after a hard day of work, followed by being stuck in the London traffic for at least 2 hours. You are tired, cranky and all you want is to eat a fast snack and go to bed. Alas with the opening of the front door, your dreams are simultaneously destroyed. The house is a mess, the babysitter is going crazy, and your kids have found their new passion - drawing on the walls. Your house needs to be cleaned, and the children have no intention of helping. Considering how hard you found the perfect home in London, and that your landlord is not keen on modern art, you need to put everything in order fast. Here goes your relaxing evening. This might sound a little over dramatic but one of the biggest problems every parent face is how to teach the kids to clean after themselves and more importantly to tidy up their own rooms. After a hard search on the web and reading various parenting books, articles and pamphlets, I have managed to gather a couple of tips that just may do the job.

Do, as Mummy Does

Kids are extremely intelligent and curious. When they see or hear something, their first reaction is to repeat it. Which can be both very cute and terrifying (Especially if you are at a family dinner. Take it from me, make sure your children are sound asleep before watching Game of Thrones with your spouse.). You can use this to your advantage. If you have a positive attitude towards cleaning and make it look like a fun game, the little ones will want to take part in it. The more they see you and your partner doing chores without complaining, the more the kids would want to help.

Make Them a Part of the Cleaning Crew

Start with something small, for example putting all the stuffed animals on the shelf. Always reward your children for the good work they are doing. The more effort the kids put into it, the bigger the price. My girls decided to clean their room and finally place all the toys in their right places. So I baked them "Reward Cookies." This was a memorable Saturday. Now it is a tradition to make something special on the weekend if they behaved well throughout the week.

Encourage Their Creativeness

If your child feels a sense of ownership of their space, they will want to keep it nice and tidy. Let the kids pick the colours of the toy boxes or shelves. Engage them in decorating the playroom and rearranging the furniture. Show your children how to take care of their new staff. For example, this shelf needs to be regularly cleaned in order for Teddy to feel good or your cars have to be put in the garage (toy box) for the night so they won’t get damaged. There are many cleaning games containing toy vacuums and dusters, but I don't think they are very appropriate. Mostly because the kids can confuse the real thing with a toy and hurt themselves.

Let's Talk About the Cleaning Chores

In every book I have read, all experts advice that your kids need to have a strict routine in order to feel calm and safe. On the same principle, you need to make a cleaning routine in your home. Here is the checklist for my kids. It has been working wonderfully so far. Just for reference, my girls are 5 and 3 years old.:

  • Help mommy or daddy clean the table after every meal. They mostly bring little things like napkins and small plastic containers, but it is a good start.
  • Put all of the toys in their places before bed. We are still having trouble with this one, but the cookies really helped.
  • When mummy or daddy are vacuuming and dusting, come and help. We mostly let them have a fun 10 minutes with the vacuum in their rooms, and then do the hard work. Nevertheless, when they become older, the girls will have the habit of cleaning their own space.

Safe and Clean

Don't overdo it with the cleaning. Your kids don't need to know how to scrub a toilet until they are in their teens. Everything involving strong chemical detergents is out of the question. We live near a beautiful London park, and every Sunday someone takes the kids there to play, while the other one (usually me) scrubs and cleans the house. This is the time for washing toilets and windows. I’m very paranoid when it comes to cleaning products, and I always try to avoid showing the children the multicoloured bottles filled with toxic liquids. They are just too little, anything can happen, so all cleaners are strictly forbidden around the kids.

A Couple of Parenting Advice

Wheater your children learn to help around the house or not, depends solely on you. Many technics could be used, but the most important thing is to always make sure your kids feel comfortable. In conclusion here are some personal thoughts and advice I would like to share with all parents:

  • The most essential thing for a child is to feel loved and appreciated. Try to notice the small gestures your kids do and encourage them. Demonstrate a positive attitude even in the most negative situations.
  • We are talking about cleaning, not rocket science. Even if your little ones make a mistake, it is not the end of the world. Try to not overload them with your frustration.
  • Childproof your home and especially the cabinets that hold all of your household detergents. Do not use bleach or other strong liquids around your kids.
  • When you notice mould or mildew in your home call a professional cleaning company right away. These nasty fungi cause severe allergic reactions and can trigger asthma attacks in toddlers. Keep your children away from them.
  • Always use protection when you are cleaning around the house. As mentioned children learn best by repeating the actions of adults. So be certain to use rubber gloves and protective masks, when the time for cleaning the house comes. This way even if your kid decides to “surprise” you by washing the dishes or the bathroom, you will know that at least some safety measurements were taken.

And to finish on a positive note: try to constantly show your children you love them. They grow so fast! Ultimately, it is more important to spend your moments in peace and mutual love than to stress over a messy room.

Author's Bio: 

Stephanie Cooper is a blogger and a professional content writer. She loves to write, and her goal is to help people. “ I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine thus this article was born. She is an employee in one of the biggest cleaning companies in London and a full-time super mum. Impressed by how well behaved her daughters were I asked her about her parenting secrets. It turns out that being an experienced cleaner can actually help you in disciplining your offspring.”