Clemson University experts assert that “kids are eager to lend a hand.” Although this may be true in the kitchen during baking, cooking or measuring ingredients, these same kids are notably absent when it comes to cleaning counters, floors and walls. If my children are any indication, they have an aversion to cleaning supplies in the same way that vampires seek to avoid garlic. Whether it is the request for sweeping the kitchen floor or washing down the bathroom wall, if there is a way to escape, my kids are sure to find it. All this turned around when I devised five fun kids’ activities that just so happened to involve green cleaning supplies.
Ready, set, wash windows (and mirrors)! Dilute white vinegar with water, help the kids crumble up newspaper into handy little balls, and put them to work washing the windows. But there is a twist! Not only are these cleaning supplies safe for even the littlest hands, but mom is keeping track of the time it takes for each child to wash a window (completely clean, no streaks or hand prints). The winner receives a treat. The loser gets to practice on the bathroom mirror in preparation for next week’s rematch.
Dress up to clean up. Playing dress-up is among the top fun kids activities for the preschool set. Combine dress-up clothes with cleaning products, and you have all the makings of helpful floor cleaners. Mix half a cup of white vinegar into a gallon of warm water. Appoint a child to be the stocking sweeper and the other to be the dust pan holder. Next, spray the cleaning mix onto the kitchen floor and let the kids make green cleaning angels. Who knew that cleaning a floor could be so much fun?
Spot removal made easy. This is a favorite during the holidays. When glasses need to be literally spotless before company comes over, put some salt on a lemon slice, hand it to junior and tell him to get to work on the glassware. This is one of the fun kids’ activities that cost a few bucks! Each child starts with $2 in the bank (depending on the number of glasses that need to get a spot treatment). After they are done, each missed spot or smudge results in a loss of 10 cents. If more spots are missed than the kids have money in the bank, they may need to dig into their allowance to make up the difference.
Freeze-clean the backyard. Cleaning tips for the backyard frequently include the toys, sidewalk chalk and impromptu rock collections the kids amass and leave behind. At the end of the day, clean up the area by playing a version of “musical chairs” or “freeze frame.” Play music as the kids run to and fro to pick up their toys. When the music stops, the kids must freeze. Anyone moving needs to pick up an extra item.
Belt out operas while polishing the wood. Does your home contain any real wood furniture? No, not the pressed-wood from Wal-Mart or the fake wood that is actually more resin and plastic than anything else. If you do have real wood, there is no reason to invest in polish but instead get some good, green olive oil. Sell the kids on polishing the wood by either turning up the Italian operas full blast (while singing along badly) or allowing them to choose the tunes to play out loud. As long as there is polishing, there is music. If the polishing slacks off, the tunes turn off, too. Younger kids will love seeing you lip-synch to Aida, so they will gladly polish to get that opportunity. Older kids crave acceptance of their music; if it means you have to listen to Justin Bieber for 20 minutes, is this not worthwhile for a nicely polished armoire?
Clemson University: “Kids in the Kitchen”
Read more by Sylvia Cochran:
How to Remove Carpet Stains Caused by Cough Syrup
How to Clean with Salt
How to Get the Smell of Garlic or Onions Out of Your Hands