Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tips to Get Your Kids Motivated for Spring Cleaning

Spring is here!

This is when I get to take pleasure in the weather that I eagerly longed for during the extended months of the winter. My kids love when spring starts to show its face, but they also understand that the oncoming of spring means doing the dreaded spring cleaning. I hardly believe that anyone completely enjoys cleaning out the gutters, washing the inside of the windows, and digging through clothes, so I empathize with my children when they try to fight the inevitable.

With six children, you can imagine that the fight to get started on the unavoidable work load is atrocious. But, of course, I have my tricks. You have to be smarter than the troops you lead. I have compiled some of my tips and tricks to help you get your kids started and keep them motivated throughout the whole spring cleaning escapade.

First of all, make it fun! My children love to dance a little while picking up toys that are strewn around to the songs playing on the local pop station. Something upbeat and happy does the job. If you create a light atmosphere, the kids will stay interested and cooperate for a longer amount of time.

Create a list with boxes to check off when the project is done. This gives the children the “big picture” and an idea when the whole project will be done. Without a list, my children are always asking me, “How many more until we’re done?” but as long as we have our list outlining our spring cleaning project in full with checkboxes for when each item on the list has been performed acceptably, the children feel as if they’ve accomplished something each step that they do and they know where the end of the project is. Each child has their own boxes to check off and their goals to accomplish, deterring bickering and arguing.

Unpack those Rubbermaid containers full of clothes that you packed up before winter and tell each child to try on their own spring and summer clothes. In our family, with five boys that are aged like stair steps, last year’s clothes usually fit the next youngest boy, so we pass the clothes down. Have them pack up their winter clothes in the container that their summer clothes were packed away in. Anything that does not fit my daughter gets bagged up for donation to the local thrift store. Take an inventory of the clothes that will be needed (especially for those of us on a budget), and put this list on the fridge for shopping day.

While the older children are doing this (or while you are doing your little children’s seasonal clothing change over), give your toddler a cloth to dust with and show him how to dust the furniture (after stowing away the breakable items on the furniture). Or give him a broom and just let him go at sweeping (he’ll feel like part of the clean up crew and it will keep him busy for at least a few minutes, especially if you tell him how much he’s helping). Children this age are wonderful stick picker-uppers when it’s time to clean outside, as well.

Throw a party after the cleanup is done. What else do children love more than pizza and soda? Rewards and thanks go a long way after getting a big job done, and encourage the children to help out the next year. Although I hate to set precedence for next year, I am grateful when spring cleaning is done and enjoy the pizza and soda treat as well.

Happy Cleaning!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Duh, Dora!

Due to the overwhelming response I have received to add more to my blog, I have decided to pop one more little story up here, to keep the masses on the internet happily reading. I try to bring a smile to people’s faces-at the expense of my own humility as well as my kid’s, so I hope this does the job…

Recently, my amazingly smart and unbelievably hilarious two-year-old was watching his favorite show, Dora the Explorer. Okay, maybe second favorite show-Go, Diego, Go tops the list, I believe. But, back to the point here…
Dora the Explorer, in my opinion, is an outstanding educational program for these little tots because of the interactivity it promotes. Dora presents different scenarios and choices for the child, asking questions including “What color are the penguin’s feet?” or “What do we need to get across the lake to the big green mountain?” and then she stops for a moment for the child to come up with their own answer while they ponder the question and look at the pictures that represent options for solutions posted on the screen of the television. Quite often, Dora will ask questions that are a bit obvious to my two-year-old, and he gets a little feisty with his answers.
On this particular show, Dora was desperately trying to get to the other side of the lake to the big green mountain, as mentioned earlier. She asked her audience if she could use a car to get to the other side. My overly intelligent son reported, “No!” out loud in response to her silly question.
Then, she asked if a bicycle would help her make her way to her destination. Again, my ingenious little man shouted, “No!”, and, Dora proceeded to ponder her predicament. A car won’t make it across the lake and a bicycle will not do, so what could she use to get across the lake to the big green mountain?
As impatient as these tiny little people can be, my son couldn’t contain himself. He was shouting at Dora, “Use the boat! You need to use a boat!” All the while, he is jumping excitedly and pointing urgently at the little blue boat in the top right hand corner of the screen.
So, when Dora finally decided to ask the question: “Will a boat help me get across the lake to the big green mountain?” the answer was clear to my son.
His response to Dora’s too-easy-for-a-two-year-old question came simply as, “Yeah…duh!”
Of course a boat will get you across the lake, Dora. Even a two-year-old knows that.
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