How to organize the kitchen to get kids helping out- and what ages to do it.
Frequently my friends ask how I get it all done. The thing is I don't. Everyone helps in my home so that I can do the things that I do. And kids helping out? This is a topic near and dear to my heart.
I think it's easy to do too much for our kids, but it's so, so important to their development- and our sanity- for them to help out. Early in my parenting career, I found myself cleaning up the same mess over and over again. What it boils down to is this... there's absolutely no consequence to making a mess when you're never the one who cleans it up.
As such, I have gotten my kids more and more involved in regular chores. They clean up their own messes. They help out for general cleaning.
My sons are 3 and 5 years old. From kitchen chores to helping move laundry around to vacuuming and more... they do it. I do it with them and I supervise them, but they are learning tasks that are critical to their success later on. I want them to grow up with the automatic reflex to clean up any spills they make, to put their dishes in the sink without being asked, etc. Does that mean a lot of reminders and instruction now? Yes. I'm hoping it means less work for me later. But cleaning together is often (not always) enjoyable for the whole family. My kids LOVE getting a spray bottle of water and a rag to wipe the windows. They love vacuuming. And they see us doing the same things.
My house isn't spotless. But I find myself less stressed because I have everyone helping around the house. And cleaning up together means we have more time to spend together doing other things. If I can, I try to make it fun to clean. Put on some music or an audiobook to listen to together.
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Age Appropriate Chores
Many chores are age appropriate IF they're supervised closely. As in, eyes on 100% of the time. If there's safety concerns, don't let the kids do it unless you're able to supervise them closely.
At age 3 and 5, my kids grab a rag to clean up their spills. Then they put the dirty rag in the wet bag. They put their dirty dishes in the sink. They get clean dishes from their cabinet when it's dinner time. They put clean dishes away. My 5 year old puts away clean silverware with the exception of sharp items (which I store up on a high shelf).
I give my kids their own spray bottles full of water. These are labeled so they don't get mixed up with dangerous cleaning products. This allows them to wipe the windows or table clean. Then I can come behind them with real cleaner as needed.
My 3 year old helps by getting supplies from the pantry for sandwiches. He will go get bread and peanut butter for me. I get the jelly and knife. He will also go get some plates.
Now keep in mind, these are things I expect from my kids. That doesn't mean they do them 100% of the time without prompting. I often have to remind them or ask them to help. I try to always thank them for their help, even when it's not perfect. I don't want to make the task unpleasant by nagging. But I'm laying the groundwork for the kids do to it naturally in the future.
My Process for Organizing for Kids to Help: Video
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