Cleaning with Kids – May 2016

Do you feel like your house is buried in dirt and clutter, and every time you turn around your children are making the situation worse?

According to Beverly Anderson, executive director for Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and Wauwatosa, “Part of the solution to keeping your house clean and organized is getting your children involved in the process from an early age.”

Here are some tips to consider:

Teaching Toddlers to Pick Up
Anderson says toddlers should grow up knowing that they need to pick up after themselves. This means putting their toys away before naptime and at night, as well as putting their clothes in the hamper when they get ready for bed.

“At first you will need to assist your toddlers with these tasks, but over time it will become a habit for them. Also, by instilling these responsibilities your children at an early age, you will find that you need to remind them less and less to complete these tasks as they get older.”

Expanding A Preschooler’s Role
According to Anderson, as children get older, they can have greater involvement in keeping a house clean, but parents need to have realistic expectations.

Anderson says you should ask your preschoolers what household tasks they would like to help with. Ideas could include: emptying garbage cans, dusting a room, Swiftering the steps, and making their beds each morning.

Once you decide what tasks your children will be doing, work together to create a chart listing them. Then when your children complete the tasks on their chart, check them off, so they can see their accomplishments.

“Using a chart can be great motivator for preschool children, especially if they earn a sticker or some other reward like a small allowance for completing the tasks on their charts.”

School-Agers: Make It Fun
Anderson adds as children get older, the key to having them continue to help around the house is to keep the tasks fun and to not be demanding.

“Children of all ages need to know you appreciate their assistance, but school-agers in particular need to be told how much you value their help.”

Likewise, if parents can make the task at hand fun for a school-ager, it is more likely to get done.

“Tell your children they can wear their headphones to help pass the time when they are performing their cleaning tasks, and be realistic with your expectations. Don’t expect perfection. Just be happy when the job is completed and things are better than they were.”

Anderson adds another way to instill responsibility in school-age children is to make them in charge of cleaning their bedroom and the bathroom that they use.

“If you do this, you will find your children will tend to be neater all of the time, because they know that ultimately they are going to be responsible for having to clean up the messes they make.”

Ebenezer Child Care Centers is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early childhood programs from the heart. The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere; individualized, nurturing care; and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage.

Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social. In addition to providing quality care, the agency also offers free Parenting Talks and other educational programming all aimed at helping parents.

The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Oak Creek and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information, please call 414-643-5070 or visit the agency’s website at