Time for tidying

Kathryn Sucich

Does cleaning seem like a daunting task? New York Times bestselling author Linda Cobb, the Queen of Clean, says to make cleaning easier, “Don’t clean anything that isn’t dirty.” To save sanity, first go room-by-room through the house and make a list of what needs to be cleaned. Then clean a room that doesn’t need much work so you have a feeling of accomplishment before moving on to the other rooms. Cobb says it’s best to try and keep up with chores on a year-round basis and teach your kids about cleaning from a very young age. Cobb says it’s important when you’re cleaning with kids to use natural cleaning products. She also says don’t criticize your kids’ work if it’s not exactly to your specifications; otherwise, they won’t want to help out again. Here are her suggestions for chores your kids can do year-round.


What can they handle? Young kids can help with simple tasks as long as you’re in the same room as them. Cleaning can be play for kids. Give them a small broom and ask them to go around the edges of a room and sweep out the crevices.

What daily or weekly chores can they do? At this age, children can learn to fold and roll their clothes. You should also teach them to pick up their toys before bedtime.

Why should they pitch in? If children learn the importance of cleaning at an early age, they’ll keep those good habits throughout their lives.

Elementary school age

What can they handle? They can pitch in for chores such as mopping with a dry mop and dusting, as long as you’re monitoring them. You should also go through their toy bins with them and pick out the ones they’ve outgrown to hand down to a younger child or donate to charity.

What daily or weekly chores can they do? Elementary age children can help gather up the trash, make their beds and help keep their rooms clean.

Why should they pitch in? With regard to clearing out the toy bin, it’s important for kids to learn the habit of “We’ve outgrown this.” With other daily chores, it’s important for them to build life skills.

Preteens and teens

What can they handle? Older children can work more independently, wiping down windowsills, taking down the curtains to wash, vacuuming, pulling weeds and sweeping out the garage and driveway.

What daily or weekly chores can they do? They can do their own laundry and can help do the dishes. Cobb says at this age you should find your child’s particular “area of expertise” with chores. Since all kids are different, they might have certain chores that they like doing or are better at than others.

Why should they pitch in? With teenagers heading to college within a few years, it’s important for them to know how to fend for themselves at school and beyond.