Getting Family to Help Clean After Mealtimes
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated January 25, 2021)
Have you ever noticed how difficult it can be to get your children (and sometimes significant other) to help out with cleaning up after meal times? While it may seem like a bit of a pipe dream to many people, getting family to help clean after mealtimes can be a reality. The trick lies in knowing how to go about it. There are literally hundreds of books, articles, essays, and so on written about getting children to do some work around the home, and it would be extremely difficult to read each and everyone of them. There are some common themes among this variety of information, which is listed below. Simply follow these guidelines, and you should very easily find yourself with a bit more time on your hands since your entire family will be helping out with cleaning up after mealtimes.
- Lead by example. Perhaps the simplest, and most difficult, aspect of getting your family to help clean after mealtimes is to lead by example. This means that you simply dig in and begin doing the work. Do not complain about the work (talking about it with your family is not the same as complaining) when you are doing it, simply do it. Many times others do not want to join in on the work when the see someone else complaining about it.
- Be supportive. It may be difficult, but being supportive of family members when they are helping out is a great way to get family to help clean after mealtimes. It doesn't really matter if your significant other isn't washing that dish exactly the same way that you would as long as the job gets done. People (both young and old) react well to positive reinforcement, and really don't like to receive the negative feedback. If you are more worried that the cleaning is being done in a certain way, rather than it being done at all, then you can easily find yourself receiving the comment "If you don't like the way I am doing it, then you do it."
- Everyone removes something. As soon as mealtimes are finished, make sure that no one leaves the table without taking something with them. It doesn't matter what, as long as everyone is grabbing something. This will help reduce the overall workload, while also helping to make sure that the table is cleared quickly.
- Make sure that everyone has a job. Another helpful tactic is to ensure that everyone in the family (including parents) have some kind of post mealtime chore. When children (and often times significant others) see someone not working when they are it can lead to harsh feelings. These hard feelings will then lead to a lessened desire to work, and you are soon back where you started. It's almost like the old saying from Star Wars "Fear leads to hate, hate leads to anger, and anger leads to the Dark Side."
- Bribery can work wonders. If all else fails, you still have one option left and that is bribery. While you may not want to look at it as if it is bribery, you may want to consider calling it an allowance, pay check, or some other name, it is still bribery. Using this method can help feed or assuage the instant gratification feeling that most people get, and when they see that they will get compensated for doing something most people will be more likely to do it.
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