Summer may be the perfect season to make pleasant family memories, but it also brings along a corresponding whirlwind of clutter, thanks to kids who are home from school on vacation. If your home-bound kids are wreaking havoc on your surroundings, try these tips for keeping your abode ship-shape and involving your kids in the organizational process at the same time.
Get everyone on board: Involve the entire family in your summertime organizational projects, and explain to your children that their help is necessary, not optional. “Anyone that lives in a home should participate in maintaining it,” says Marie Calder Ricks, organizational expert and the author of the House of Order Handbook. “Tell your children that house and yard work are part of this upcoming summer’s activities.” Assign age-appropriate tasks to each member of the family so that everyone is involved in the daily care of your home, and share the responsibilities—and the satisfaction!
Set clear expectations: “Posting a chore chart with each child’s name and chores to do in the week ahead is the simplest way to set clear cleaning expectations for a child,” says Tara Aronson, lifestyle expert and the author of Mrs. Clean Jean’s Housekeeping with Kids. “Be sure to explain exactly what’s expected when he’s asked to ‘clean the bathroom.’ Show him how to clean the sink, polish the mirror, clean the tub, etc.” To avoid misunderstandings, be sure to define the results that you’re seeking. “This will help them understand that standards have been set and they are to be met,” Ricks says.
Reap the rewards: By involving your children in your summer housekeeping routine, you not only reap the benefits of a tidy home, but you also teach your children important life skills that will serve them well in the future. “Chores give children a sense of responsibility that follows through into other areas of their lives, especially school,” Aronson says. “If kids don’t keep up with their belongings at home, they won’t be responsible for them at school, either.” Encourage your child when he or she completes a task, and don’t overlook an extra reward for a job well done. “Little ones can often be motivated in a big way with stickers and stamps that are placed on a simple chore chart you can create yourself,” Aronson says. “You can [also] reward them with fun experiences, such as lunch at their favorite eatery or perhaps a new storybook from the library or local bookstore.”