Much as you'd love some help cleaning, the fact is not all cleaning jobs are safe for little ones. If your kids are on the younger side, there are a few things to consider when assigning tasks:
Heights: Any task that requires a ladder or, for kids under 6, even a stepladder, is probably not a great idea.
Chemicals: If it's toxic, caustic or just generally heavy duty, it's not for kids. For instance, a job that requires bleach or soap scum remover is best saved for your own to-do list. Natural cleaners, such as soap, baking soda or vinegar, are great choices for kids.
Other dangers: Before assigning a task, just consider all the possibilities. Will the space be slippery? Leaving a 6-year-old alone in the bathroom with a mop is probably not very smart. Does the job involve an enclosed space? Even cleaning products that don't produce noticeable fumes in the living room might produce headaches in a shower stall.
Hopefully, your efforts to be safe, explain, entertain and reward will pay off, and cleaning will actually be a positive experience for everyone. In the end, though, safety may be the only aspect of cleaning you can fully control. You may find yourself stuck with a tantruming toddler, a whiny first-grader or a mopey teenager -- but at least it'll be a safe and healthy one.
For more information on cleaning, kids and home care, look over the links on the next page.