Saturday, April 26, 2008

Whistle While You Work

Many of the "Greatest Generation" look at the children of today and are amazed at how lazy they are and how little they are made to work. It is true that modern conveniences have taken many of our parents chores off our "to do" lists. My grandmother had to sew all the petticoats and dresses for her 4 girls. I only have to get online and order clothes for my 4 girls.

Still there are some chores that seem to never end even if they are easier to do now than 50 years ago. Laundry, for example. Laundry is really never done. Dishes are another continual task. And of course there is always a bathroom to clean or a floor to sweep or a mess to wipe up.

With cleaning on my mind today, I thought I would share some of my favorite tips on cleaning with kids.

Many Hands Make Light Work

This morning Jon and I woke early with the baby at 6 a.m. He drove to the church to help set up chairs for stake conference. Men were meeting there at 6 a.m. to set up 900 chairs. When he got there at 6:30 half the parking lot was filled and they had been done for 15 minutes.

Cleaning is Always Better with a Friend

As soon as Jon got home he and I started the massive chore of picking up and deep cleaning our whole house. I have to say cleaning is one of my least favorite things to do alone. However, if I am working with my husband or my family or even if I just have a friend over to keep me company while I work, I actually enjoy it. It gives me a good teamwork kind of feeling when my husband and I clean together. I also feel this way when I clean with my children and I think they feel it too. It is difficult to get them started cleaning but once we start going I think they enjoy it as much as I do. I can tell it definitely makes them feel self confident and happy to see their job well done. They also work best when they work in teams.

Our neighbor friends came to play with the kids around 9 this morning and I let them in as long as they helped or at least didn't distract. The girls were excited to have friends over and together they cleaned 2 bedrooms, the loft, a playroom and a bathroom.

A Spoon Full of Sugar

One of the first things I like to do when we have family cleaning time is to turn on some good cleaning music. I try to pick something the kids will like so they will be energetic and happy while we work. I love Laurie Berkner's songs for this. My kids also like to clean to the Disney greatest hits.

Cleaning Games

"I'm the fastest in the West" -- This is a game I like to play with Ann Marie. She has a competitive spirit. I start singing "I'm the fastest in the West and I do it all the best! I am just the fastest in the West." I sing this over and over while I start cleaning up quickly. She then jumps in saying "No you're not!" and she sings the same tune and starts to pick up also.

The Trash Game -- I got this one from Sabrina's first grade teacher. I tell the kids I am thinking of something on the floor and I am going to give them 2 minutes to clean up the floor. Whoever picks up the thing I am thinking of in the 2 minutes gets a special prize. READY SET GO! I do this for a set area of space that I think they can get clean in 2 minutes. I give a small piece of candy to the "winner" and we move to the next space. I try to make sure everyone wins at least once.

TV Breaks-- Sometimes if we are all watching TV together and the family room is a mess, I tell the kids that on the commercial everyone has to pick up 10 things. It usually gets the room clean after one or two breaks.

Hungry Monster -- The kids love to play this clean up game. It works well with blocks, Legos, or any other toy you can put into a container. You use the lid of the container and pretend the container is a "HUNGRY MONSTER" that eats only block (or whatever belongs in that container). Then you open and close the lid to look like a mouth and talk like a monster and say, "I'm a hungry monster! FEED ME!" The kids love it when you throw a burp in there occasionally and when you try to eat their hand a little when they are feeding the hungry monster.

Races -- Sometimes we have races to see who can pick up 20 things the fastest or who can get their room clean fastest, me or all of them working together.

Basketball -- when picking up dirty clothes or putting stuffed animals in an open bin we can play a bit of basketball.

After 5 hours of cleaning this morning, our house is finally clean and we all get to play! I am always looking for ways to motivate my kids to clean so please share your favorite cleaning games and tips for kids!