Spring Cleaning Teaches Life Skills
As the weather gets warmer we often feel the need to organize and clean our homes. May is a great time to do this and getting our children to help not only makes our lives easier, it also teaches them wonderful life skills. Our dominant sense affects not only how we interpret information but also what our natural skills are, even when it comes to cleaning.
Visual children tend to be more detail-orientated so make the most of this and give them the jobs that need visual focus. A cupboard or drawer that needs sorting will be just right as they will make sure that everything in it is tidy and organized and looks good. Don’t expect them to be quick, however, as doing something well can take time and visual children can be very particular. Try not to overwhelm them by giving them organizational jobs that consist of one drawer or cupboard at a time. Make sure to pick drawers that contain “safe” items like clothing or plastic storage containers, rather than the kitchen junk drawer as we often forget what items we have put in there and some may not be suitable for little fingers.
Tactile children love to help and if everyone else is cleaning, rest assured they will want to as well. They happily will carry things into other rooms, hold the dustpan while you sweep, and wipe down the coffee table and the cabinets in the kitchen. While they will be a great help with manual labor, don’t expect attention to detail, or any organization to happen as their interest is in doing things fast. Their forte is more the physical activity and general staying power but they will be your little helper for as long as the job takes, especially if you take extra care to notice their efforts. If your child is learning to write, take this opportunity for practice, by having them label drawers, boxes and baskets with what they contain.
The vacuum, the dishwasher, the radio and the general crashes as we unpack cupboards not usually opened can be very upsetting for an auditory child, so try to find them jobs that are quiet or in open space where the sound is diffused. Let them listen to their favorite music and allow them to organize to their own system. You will be very surprised at how advanced their pattern recognizing skills are and often the can find a new and better way to store things. Jobs like deciding which clothes should go to good will, and which should go to their little cousin, sorting out books, pens and papers, reorganizing a closet all speak to their pattern skills, and if your available your auditory child will delight in being able to chat and clean at the same time.
Any job that involves looking after animals or a younger sibling will be a taste and smell child’s dream, especially true if they can enjoy the result — watching the guinea pig playing in the new hay, or their little brother squealing at all his stuffed animals neatly arranged. They will tend to shy away from cleaning products as they tend to be sensitive to odors and fragrance, so try to use low allergy or low scent products in cleaning and substitute a spray bottle filled with water rather than a cleaning product they need to wipe things down. Being naturally sentimental, expect some resistance when it comes to throwing out old clothes or broken toys so you may need to organize quietly; with an older child, check in with them before discarding one of their items.
Make it fun! And enjoy the process of getting to know your child even better by watching how they organize and tackle cleaning problems. You will be able to see their natural strengths and be able to incorporate them into your everyday interaction with them.
Parenting Expert and father of 7, Daddy Nickell, is founder of Daddy & Co. and the Daily Daddy Blog. He is also the creator and producer of “My Life as a Dad,” a new web series showcasing celebrity fathers and their personal experiences and parenting tips.