One might think that fall is the worst time to try to get kids to take on tasks, what with school, sports and homework all beginning again after a nice, lazy summer. “On the contrary,” say the cleaning experts at Merry Maids, the Hudson-based maid service franchise that is consistently ranked number one by major business publications.
According to Charlie Petricone, owner of the Merry Maids serving Southern NH, Merry Maids’ research shows that since kids are about to get back into a “work mode” and begin routines again, this may be the best time to begin to assign family chores.
“The two–income family is desperately trying to juggle everything from work, shopping and house cleaning, to having time with the kids,” explains Charlie. “All the more reason to let the kids know that, as part of the family, they too have jobs to do.”
With summer over, parents can explain that now that the children have had a nice vacation, it’s time for school. With the routine that comes with it, Charlie says, begin to build in household chores. Teaching the proper housekeeping methods can become part of the learning process.
With that in mind, the experts at Merry Maids have developed the following fall cleaning tips — ones that incorporate the whole family.
1. Mats Matter: You’d be amazed how much dirt a sturdy nylon mat will catch. Put one at each doorway. They are reasonably priced and can be found at any of the major discount superstores in the housewares department. Spend a little extra on a larger one to cover the area where kids enter the most. Teach them immediately that the first step in the house after school is where the dirt comes off! Or, make a rule that that’s where all shoes are removed.
2. Delegating Will Hurt You More Than It Hurts Them: One of the main reasons Mom doesn’t get enough help around the house, is because it is painful to delegate chores. We all want things done “our way.” However, letting go and allowing kids to have responsibilities is important all throughout life, and gives them a feeling of accomplishment. Assign chores around age group. Let each child know that two or three jobs around the house belong to them. They will take pride in these jobs if their efforts are met with praise.
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3. Ages 8 – 12: These kids are ready for some real chores. The last person in the shower in the morning should be handed a spray-on bath cleaner with a little abrasive in it. Steam helps loosen dirt, so once they’re finished, show them how to spray tile in the shower. After they’ve brushed their teeth, they can quickly go over the tile with a sponge kept under the sink.
4. Ages 3 – 8: Even at this tender age, it’s not too early to develop routine and habits that could last a lifetime. When a child is through playing in a certain area, part of his or her routine should be to put his or her toys away. If Dad is handy, have him build some benches in the rec room that opens to hold toys. Otherwise, large rubber bins are available at discount superstores in a variety of colors and models. Label them with stickers that are lively and that can show a child what goes where.
5. Does Clutter Make You Shudder? Clutter is inevitable when kids are back to school. They come home with some of the most amazing items. Rather than have feelings hurt by tossing out their precious schoolwork, go to your same discount superstore and buy under the bed storage boxes. Let the kids decide what schoolwork they’d like to save and have them save them in these boxes.
6. My Child, The Artist: When kids bring home artwork, display the really good pieces on the refrigerator with colorful magnets. Decide what the lifespan will be for each picture — then if it should be saved in a box or not. And when the little darlings use your walls for a canvas, use concentrated dishwashing soap to clean the crayon marks.
7. Make Family Time Chore Time: Designate a time each week where the family can sit together in the kitchen or den and visit about what’s happening at school, work, etc. Each person can be handling a task during the discussion such as polishing silver, folding laundry or organizing a drawer.
8. Don’t get Shocked: A portable hairdryer really comes in handy for quick dust jobs like cobwebs. Teach the older kids these shortcuts, but remember to also teach them about safety with electric devices. This is a good time for them to learn these facts.
9. Hello, Mr. Dustbuster: Another great appliance that older kids can handle. With “after school” comes major crumbs from snacks. Let the kids know right away that you do not want to find any evidence of their snacks around when you come home from work. Have large garbage cans lined with bags accessible in the kitchen.
10. But Mom . . . But nothing. Let the kids know that their areas, bedrooms and bathrooms are their responsibility. Buy each one their own set of cleaning tools, and let them know they are to use them before any play time after school. Go to an office supply store and purchase desk trays and pencil holders to reduce clutter in their rooms. The trays can be marked “homework to be done” and “completed homework” to avoid morning panic over lost papers. By third grade, kids should be held responsible for these items.
11. Chore Charts: One of the best ways to start off younger kids. There are commercial ones available or, you can easily make one with a poster board. Have them on a bulletin board with each child’s name and chores listed. Have them check off their chores when they’ve finished. You can also use the “gold star” system for a super job.
12. Heavy Duty Day: Set aside one time slot a week for a heavy duty chore. Older kids can tackle one of their own, like window cleaning. Use a spray bottle of commercial cleaner, or fill one with vinegar and water. Give them soft cloths or old diapers and teach them the proper way to wash windows streak–free. (Use cotton cloth to dry for this.) Younger kids can help Mom and Dad turn mattresses, clean blinds or wash walls. Getting them involved early is the key.
Founded in 1979, Merry Maids supplies customized residential cleaning services through more than 800 franchises and company-owned locations in the United States and 1,150 franchises worldwide. Merry Maids is a subsidiary of The ServiceMaster Company, which serves more than 12 million customers in the United States and in 40 countries around the world and includes nine market-leading companies that provide a wide range of related home services. The other companies are TruGreen, TruGreen Landcare, Terminix, American Home Shield, ServiceMaster Clean, AmeriSpec and Furniture Medic.
For more information on residential cleaning, call 603-889-1004, email sales4095(at)merrymaids.net. Check out our web brochure here.