I must admit, my least favorite chore of them all is washing dishes. I love to cook and I do most nights, but the task of physically washing the dishes (you know the ones that aren’t supposed to go in the dishwasher) and THEN cleaning up the kitchen…it pains me just to think about it.
I’ve tried different things in the past like splitting up the responsibilities of: I would cook and my husband was supposed to clean, but that never worked. Most recently I would wash dishes and clean up the kitchen while the rest of the family got to play outside or the kids were taking a bath. To be honest with you I was getting a little tired of being left out.
So one night it was just me and my girls and of course they wanted to go outside and play so I told them “I can go and play outside but first can you help me do a few things in the kitchen?”. Notice how I did not say “cleaning up the kitchen”. So I would give each of girl different tasks to do while I, sigh, washed the dishes. But I was so happy to be getting help that washing dishes really didn’t seem as bad as it normally does. My seven year old was able to get out some food storage containers to put the leftover chicken and pasta in. So first I just asked her to look at how much pasta was left and to find a container to fit the pasta. Task number two: put the pasta in the container. Task three: bring me the pot so I could wash it. I didn’t really need to repeat the steps for her for the chicken, having been walked through it once she was pretty self sufficient the second go around.
For my four year old, she did things like taking clean cans or bottles to the recycle bin, putting the crouton container back in the pantry, putting dressing in the fridge, bringing dishes to the sink, etc. She was happy as a lark!
What I found to be the keys to being successful at this was keeping each child busy. So don’t list off everything they need to do all at once. The smaller kids will not be able to remember everything and the older children will speed through the tasks and not do a really good job. Keep it simple, one thing at a time. This can be a little tricky when you have multiple children, because you constantly have a child saying “what next mom?”. I would just do a quick scan across the kitchen and see what was out of place or did not belong in the kitchen.
In the end we were all able to go outside and enjoy a nice relaxing swing before bedtime. When we walked back into the house I was amazed at how great the kitchen looked. Look at that, we all got what we wanted!
Do you have a tip to help get your kids involved with kitchen clean up? We would love for you to share it with us! Post a comment below.