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Social distancing is well under way and the schools are closed, which means that many of us are working from home with our children in the house. It’s not easy and we have to have a gameplan! On top of the home learning from school, there’s never been a better time to educate our children about the importance of not only washing our hands but keeping our homes clean and sanitised, too.
It’s not enough to clean our houses regularly but rather often – and the children can get involved, too, with age appropriate tasks. In my house, my youngest daughter has become the guardian of the antibacterial wipes and is keeping the door handles, light switches and banisters beautifully germ-free!
It’s key to start with a discussion on why it’s important for us to keep ourselves and our houses clean – it becomes more than just an automated response then, when there’s real understanding in the action. It doesn’t have to be super scientific!
A good place to start would be something along the lines of: ‘we need to keep ourselves – and especially our hands – clean in order to stop germs spreading. If we have some germs on our hands and then touch our nose or mouth, we can get sick.’ You get the picture!
Moving on from personal hygiene and why it’s important, it’s also beneficial to talk about ‘home hygiene’ and how the children can help with this. A clean home is essential for our general health and well being and getting the kids involved is good for them, too!
As a rule, children love to be involved and it’s a really good education to get them to help around the house with age appropriate tasks. We’re not talking child labour here!
As they get older, it’s a great way for them to learn the value of money if you ‘pay’ them for completing certain chores. I’ve found this very effective with my own children!
We have a ‘chore chart’ where I’ve put a ‘fee’ next to each chore (emptying the dishwasher, 50p; vacuuming the stairs, £1, etc) and it works a treat!
The children feel that they are ‘earning’ their pocket money and our cleaner doesn’t need to do the stairs, for example, and can focus on other tasks. Win-win!
All tasks need to be age appropriate and the children to be able to handle them. When everyone pitches in and does their part, they’re adding their contributions to the running of the family.
It is a life skill that they will never lose and it creates a great work ethic and “pitch-in” mindset. It’s an idea to divide tasks between ‘daily responsibilities’ (so tasks that are expected to be completed everyday to help keep the house running smoothly) and actual ‘chores’.
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Before listing age-appropriate chores for children, it’s important to realise children are not born knowing how to do these tasks: we must walk them through it and teach them how to complete the tasks before leaving them to it.
Giving children the chance to contribute to the running of the household is beneficial in so many ways – for them as individuals and for the family as a whole.
While they’ll never quite replace having a professional cleaner, their help and involvement can certainly ease the burden for busy mums and dads and teach them value life skills for the future.
By Charlotte Lisbonne, on behalf of Time For You