This weekend, we had to do some major cleaning in preparation for company and Big Sister, who is 4, said “Oh, this is so much fun, we should call it Clean-up Fun Day.” Similar to the saying: One person’s junk is another person’s treasure, a new one could be: In the eyes of a child, what adults call work can be play.
Cleaning the tub and the walls is not my favorite activity. I spread a gentle, non-toxic foaming hand soap on the top part, rubbed, rinsed, and polished. About half way down, Lee asked if she could help and danced around with excitement. Since she needed to get into the tub to reach, she took off her clothes and clambered in. Spreading soap all over the walls and sides of the tub was so much fun she used both hands, getting foamy all over herself too. Together she and I rubbed. We made up words to rhyme with rub-a-dub-dub, we’ll scrub the tub. It was easy to rinse her off as well as the tub. When we were done, both she and the tub were sparkling clean. It was easy at that point to clean the floor; we just wiped up all the soap and water.
Your agenda for the day may not include cleaning the tub, but your child can help in other ways. Kids can help dust with a soft cloth or feather duster. Using a spray bottle to squirt soapy water on a table and then a sponge to wipe it off is so much fun that kids need to be guided as to what else to wash. The chair seats and floor mat in front of the sink do not need to get squirted with soapy water.
Unfortunately, this enthusiasm may not last much longer but in the meantime, cleaning can be enjoyable to a child. Soap and water are a sensory experience and kids get to make a mess with it. Children know that cleaning up is something that adults do so they feel more grown up. Knowing how to clean helps with kindergarten readiness, when children will need to have some independent skills for clean-up time at school. Is there some cleaning-play that your child can help do today?