Cleaning up after oneself is an important life skill – something that every child should learn, not just to endear themselves to future roommates or spouses, but to feel like a contributing member of the family unit. Children may grumble at first, but ultimately, they want to be useful.
There are many ways you can go about this and it will vary depending on the age and number of children in your house. Perhaps each child gets a night to take care of it on his or her own, or several kids can work together, with one child clearing the table, while another scrapes the dishes clean before loading the dishwasher. If you’re worried about smaller, less-nimble hands carrying breakable items, put the youngest in charge of utensils (minus the sharp knives).
Do you compost? Teach children what items get thrown away, and what might go in the compost bin. If you have a garbage disposal, teach children what is safe to put down the drain and what isn’t.
Teach kids how to load the dishwasher properly – lining up like items to maximize space and efficiency. Remember, plastic containers and cups go on the top! And sharp knives should always face downward.
As a parent, you will know when your child is ready to take an active role in cleaning tasks in the home. At the appropriate age, you may want to introduce them to dishwashing detergent – whether you use a single-load packets, powder or gel. Remind them that the cleanser is not a toy and not something they should put in their mouths or eyes. And they should always read and follow the directions on the label and wash their hands after handling any cleaning product.