Tidy up time: The importance of cleaning up their own mess
Posted on: Thursday February 28th, 2013
Posted by: Victoria Sopik
I have always encouraged each and every one of my children to clean up their own mess as well as helping their siblings or friends clean up their messes.
They are allowed to make their own food and eat (in certain approved spaces!), through out the house- as long as they cleaned up!
Asking children to tidy up after themselves provides your child with not only responsibility but also accountability. They need to clean/care for the utensils and space that they are using and to keep their space clean. This will help as they grow older and become "messy" teenagers, they'll be much more likely to keep their things tidy if they've always had the responsibility to do so.
It is not easy. Many of our children have been "banned" from taking food and drink out of the kitchen. This is the "final consequence" after many abandoned crumb covered plates and dirty glasses that had been left randomly around the house!
Encouraging them to help their siblings and friends also encourages a sense of team work and partnership. It is important for your child to understand that helping others is the right thing to do and although it's not their mess, their siblings appreciate their teamwork.
Having this system in our house right from when our first child was born has ensured that we're not constantly following each child picking things up behind them. I would rather spend my time with them reading books, watching movies, or playing cards. Definitely not cleaning up their mess!
This also goes for meal time and snack time. There is always someone responsible for clearing the table, someone responsible for loading the dishwasher, someone responsible for washing the pots, someone responsible for sweeping and someone responsible for putting the dishes away. I luckily have 8 children to spread these jobs over, however many of them can be paired up for one larger job. As soon as they're about 2 years old and walking, we've encouraged them to walk their plates to the kitchen. Of course, this does end in a LOT of plates on the floor. But at least they've made an effort to contribute to the tidying of the meal or snack.
Including your child in tidying is a very important part in their development. What tasks does your child complete each day?