Keeping little hands busy and clean during these uncertain times

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.

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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!

Here’s why:

  • Children feel needed and they love this!
  • They have a feeling of importance
  • They learn responsibility and independence
  • We’re creating a work ethic in our children, which will help build character
  • Family chores help children learn to work together
  • Children learn to help out the family, leaving more time to do the FUN stuff!

Get the little ones involved

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!

Daily responsibilities versus chores

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’.

Daily responsibilities could include

  • Making bed in the morning
  • Cleaning up after eating
  • Putting dirty clothes in the wash basket
  • Putting clean clothes away
  • Getting dressed and brushing teeth without being asked
  • Hanging up coat and keeping shoes in the shoe rack

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Age appropriate chores

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.

Age 4-5

  • Feed pets
  • Tidy up bedroom
  • Pick up toys
  • Water plants
  • Dry dishes
  • Wipe table after meals
  • Wipe door handles and banisters (plus keys, at this time)
  • Bring belongings in from the car
  • Replace toilet paper rolls

Age 6-7

  • Sweep floors
  • Empty the bins in the house
  • Match socks
  • Fold laundry
  • Help weed the garden
  • Wash dishes
  • Unpack school bag and lunch box
  • Help put groceries away

Age 8-11

  • Sort washing into lights and darks
  • Wipe bathroom sink and bath
  • Load and unload the dishwasher
  • Clean up after pets
  • Vacuum
  • Mop floors
  • Take rubbish out
  • Wipe down counters in kitchen

Age12+

  • Watch younger siblings
  • Clean car inside and out, not forgetting the steering wheel
  • Help with grocery shop
  • Iron
  • Clean glass/windows
  • Dust

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



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