A few weeks ago, I watched Mary Poppins with my daughters. They thoroughly enjoyed the singing and dancing and I once again enjoyed Dick van Dyke’s British accent and soot-coated smile. One scene that caught my attention was when Mary helps the kids clean up their room. It made me think of my own efforts at cleaning house with children.
My daughters are a bit younger than the Banks children, but equally reluctant to put away toys. I’ve wished many times I could just snap my fingers like Mary Poppins does and have all the clothes and toys spring into place, but that doesn’t happen. Instead, I’ve found these ways to turn cleaning house with children into a more enjoyable activity.
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1. Make Cleaning House with Children a Game
I often try to make cleaning up sound more exciting. Tone of voice helps a lot here.
Other times I suggest games, such as “Who can clean up the most?” or “Who can clean up the fastest?”
Make finding all the toys into a scavenger hunt. If you’re cleaning up toys that can be thrown safely into a bin, cheer each time someone gets a toy into the bin.
Sometimes I turn on a timer and see how much we can get cleaned up before it goes off.
Lots of enthusiasm helps with this and the girls aren’t as unevenly matched as you’d think. Lily often gets into these “games” more quickly than Sunshine and does a bigger share of the work even though she’s smaller.
2. Find Kid-sized Cleaning Tools
When I’m vacuuming or sweeping, the girls want to help out. This frustrated me when Sunshine was small, until I went searching for a broom for her. Now when she wants to sweep with me, she can get out her own broom and sweep her own section of the floor (usually a part I’d already swept, which wouldn’t interfere with my own sweeping). She can also sweep her own room.
I also have a stick vacuum that the girls can use. It’s light enough that they can push it around their room, under furniture, or up and down the stairs. They can also take it off the stick to vacuum smaller spaces or help me clean the truck.
Norwex has some great kids cleaning products that aren’t just toys—they actually clean! Check out the Norwex kids’ dusting mitt, kids’ window cloth, and kids’ EnviroCloth. Your children will love having the same cleaning tools as you do.
3. Assign Appropriate Jobs
Whether I’m cleaning the bathroom or the oven, the girls are usually trying to “help” Mommy do it. Instead of trying to keep them out or away, I give them jobs to do. Each gets a small, damp EnvoiroCloth and then I send them off to wash walls or cupboards.
Now if only I could sing like Mary Poppins…
In every job that must be done
there is an element of fun
You find the fun, and snap!
the job’s a game!
and every task you undertake
becomes a piece a cake
a lark, a spree
it’s very clear to see
that a spoonful of sugar…
At the end of the day, what matters most is your relationship with your kids. Don’t stress over the housecleaning to the point that your children are afraid of doing anything and making you angry. If housecleaning is a huge stress or you are at a stage in life when you need more help, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a professional cleaning service.
How do you manage cleaning house with children?
My son loves to sweep and vacuum, it’s all fun and games to him. It drives me nuts because he does it “toddler style” but I’m not going to tell him no 😉
Great tips, I definitely plan on getting my girls to help with cleaning the house!
Singing makes any task go by quicker!
What a cute idea. I often face reluctance as well when it comes to asking my DD to help out. I try to explain to her that we all enjoy the benefits of the family like vacations etc. and we all have to share the contributions to the family like laundry, cleaning, meal-prep etc. It’s not a big win with her but in the end I hope that she learns that these things are necessary in life.
I can honestly say that my kids are pretty lazy when it comes to tidying up, but if they think they are competing against each other, they go to town, LOL. I am not ashamed to admit I capitalize on that whenever I can 🙂
we are just starting this with DS, but we make sure he is involved with putting away toys when he makes a mess
Great ideas! Thanks for sharing and linking up to Mommy Monday. 🙂
Searching for Happy – I guess I’ll have to practice my thumb-snapping! 🙂
Christine – sometimes I also have to slow down to let them “help” and then clean up later. I often get impatient and have to remind myself that time with them is more important than a clean house. 🙂
Katrina – doing chores together is a good idea. Mine like putting away their own laundry after I’ve folded it. 🙂
Wouldn’t it of been great to be Mary Poppins? Not so easy really. I always gave my kids simple chores to start and usually interactive with me. Example you hold the garbage bag open while mommy puts this in. After awhile they used to say “I’m not a baby I can do this myself. I don’t need your help” lol and they didn’t need my help but it got them doing it SASS
Oh goodness! These are great tips, I need to use some. I haven’t been as clever and just ask over and over again. Haha. I’m lucky that most times she does it!
I love that movie!
I give my kiddies a cloth and they join me….we don’t have the cleanest house on the block!
Thanks for joining in SASS this week :)http://www.multitestingmommy.com/2012/05/lets-get-sass-y-saturday-stop-share.html
Mary Poppins was one of my favorite movies during my childhood.
My children are just toddlers, but I have been slowly teaching them to pick up after themselves after play time and before bed. We generally sing songs as we put the toys away. Anything to make it seem fun.
Great post! 🙂 Love Mary Poppins! My three year old is scared of the chimney sweepers though! LOL!
Little One “helps” me around the house all the time, but it often takes me longer (I have EXTRA cleaning to do after she cleans).
Oh Mary Poppins is my favorite and my girls adore it. We sing all of those songs often…especially while we’re working
I think if you ever manage to duplicate the Mary Poppins room cleaning trick, there might be a book tour in your future! *grin*
Visiting from SASS
Mamawee – that sounds like my house. 🙂 These little ways of cleaning make it a bit easier for me, but housecleaning doesn’t happen as often post-kids as it did pre-kids. 🙂
not well. My house is never as clean as I would like it because when they are awake it is difficult to get done, and when they are asleep I am dead on my feet