It is 4:00 in the afternoon and you are getting ready for dinner, practice, and homework time… You look up to see that the living room is a disaster, but your kids are nowhere in sight. They have started on another room, building with LEGO.
Let’s talk about getting the kids to clean when you can make chores fun for your kids. We asked other moms what they do to teach their kids to clean without complaining and they had some great ideas!
“I’ll time you!” Kids love playing games, so when you turn anything into a game, they will love it! Announce you are having a race to see which team can clean up the fastest. Or use a timer to see how long it takes them to clean up different toys.
Use clean up buckets. When I worked in a daycare, this worked like a charm. Each child gets one bucket, and they clean up as much as they can. When the buckets are filled, the kids dump them into the toy box.
Or… use the boxes like this and let each child pick up something.
Example: Jack, you get blocks in this box.
Allie, you get dolls.
Beau, you get cars in this box.
Ethan, you grab all of the doctor toys.
Dance Around! Whenever my kids are complaining about cleaning, I have them turn on music. It is fun to see how many songs it takes for you to clean up. Our kids have their favorites, so we’ll get onto YouTube, pick a favorite song, play it loudly and dance/sing/clean up as we go.
Assign “special” jobs. Kids love to feel special and you can do this with cleaning. Tell your little one that she is in charge of cleaning up the dolls and then share with her what your job is going to be. Plus, sometimes the words “clean up” can be so overwhelming and generic, so giving specific tasks is much easier and they do a better job.
Give a warning. This is especially important for younger children. About 10 minutes before clean-up up time, just announce everyone will start cleaning in 10 minutes. This way it is not such a jolt to the routine. We do this with our friend’s kids before a play date ends, too.
Get into the routine of cleaning up. As moms, we can so easily just do it ourselves, but that really does not teach them anything. It will be a challenge at first, but the more you do it, the more they know this is part of the everyday routine. Sometimes I will say, “Clean up and then we will go outside.” This reminds them that we will move into another place for fun play. If you are consistent, it will always be normal for them to do it.
Change around your wording. Instead of saying, “Clean up your room,” say “Okay, let’s clean up the cars first.” When kids look at their messy room or play room, they can feel overwhelmed. Breaking it down into specific zones is helpful and makes the job not so overwhelming.
Help them out. Every now and then, get down on the floor and help them clean up. Or work on one of your chores. Share that families work together as you clean. We will all work together for 10 minutes and see how much we can clean.
Chalkboard Apron. I know kids love costumes and an apron just might make other chores more fun too so why limit it to the kitchen? Find the chalkboard apron directions here.
Have cleaning tools that are just for them. My kids love helping to dust because we use the little Swiffer dusters. It is so simple. You could also use mini brooms or a cleaning bucket just for them.