Friday, April 1, 2016

Making Cleaning Fun to Get Kids To Help Around The House

I've heard a lot about how when you have kids, your house will never be clean again. Here's the thing, what they really should say is that when you have kids you have to work harder to keep your house clean.  Kids are messy people, but that doesn't mean you have to leave their mess around the house. (One of the best things about living in your own place is that when you don't feel like cleaning, you don't care much about the mess, you can let it be messy).  But by cleaning up after your kids and showing your kids how to clean up their messes, you're teaching them to have responsibility and keep a house (and their things) nice and clean and in good condition.

For us this means that we all have daily chores and weekly chores. This is the way I grew up too. Growing up my daily chores were basically to clean up after myself and do my dishes. My weekly chores were to take my laundry down and sort it out (my mom is amazing and always did all of our laundry, she taught us how to while she did it for us though.), clean my bathroom, vacuum and dust my room and clean our play room. Now our girls are still really young to do a lot of chores, but they still have some responsibility with helping keep the house clean.

Every time the girls finish their meal, they bring their dishes to the sink so that they can be washed and put away.

When they get changed for the day, or get in the pajamas, they put their dirty clothes in the clothes basket and not on the floor.

They clean up their toys. Sometimes this one is a huge struggle for us and we have to bribe them with a piece of candy to do it. When a bribe doesn't work for this, we tell them that if I have to pick up the toys instead of them, they toys go in the time out box until they can learn to clean up the first time they are asked.

When it comes to bigger chores, they help dust the furniture in their room and sometimes other rooms. This is one they actually really like to do.

When something is spilled, they have to help clean it up.

None of this is done as a punishment. We do it because, even though they are still quite young, we want to teach them the importance of cleaning and keeping things nice. And we try to make it fun for the kids to clean so that they will enjoy cleaning more as the get older. I remember hearing John Bytheway saying "A clean room is a happy room" and I believe that 100%. I'm in a much happier mood when I'm not sitting in a mess.

Some of you might be asking how we get the girls to do this with out complaining. I never said they always do it happily. In fact, most of the time there is quite a bit of nagging involved. But there are a few things we try to do to make it fun for our kids to help clean up, and for everyone else too.

*We give them a time limit. They always get a 5 minute reminder when it's almost time to clean up.

*Make a cleaning schedule and stick to it. Make sure every one knows the schedule. For us, laundry is done twice a week: Mondays and Thursdays. Bathrooms get cleaned at least once a week (this one doesn't always have a schedule but I try to clean the bathrooms on Tuesdays). Wednesdays are vacuuming and dusting day. Friday or Saturday is the kitchen and anything else that got neglected that week. Every night the floor gets swept and mopped and after every meal the dishes get done and the table wiped down.
Having a schedule helps it become a habit and more of a no-brainer than a chore to do.

*Put on some music. I don't know about you, but if I put some music on and start cleaning, I'm much more likely to keep going than to just get one thing done and sit on the couch.

*Bribes. When kids start whining about chores or don't want to put the toys away, explain why we need to clean up and then offer them a small treat if they do it right away instead of complain about it more. This is where our Easter candy we just got comes into play. The girls know if they do it right away they can have one piece of candy. As they get older, you can make the bribes more like punishments if they don't clean (you don't get to watch TV after homework if you don't clean your room). Bribes help them feel like there is something in it for them. And who doesn't have more fun when theres candy involved?

*Make it a game. "Who can pick up all the red toys?" My grandma used to do this. At a young age, a big mess can seem really overwhelming. This helps them see only the red things and it doesn't seem too big. Once they get done with that color have them pick what color they want to pick up first. Or you can make it a race: "Can J pick up the blocks faster than M can pick up the dolls?" If they don't have someone to compete with, use a timer. It's much more fun for kids to clean up when it feels like playing a game.

*Help them notice how much nicer their own belongings are when they are taken care of.  It's not very fun for a kid to find their toy broken on the floor because someone stepped on it and broke it when it got left out.

Do you have a cleaning schedule?

What do you do to get your kids to help clean the house?

What was your favorite chore growing up?
   I always liked vacuuming


  1. I'm struggling with this. My kids have multiple things that have gotten broken because they were left outside, stepped on, etc, and while I try to say, "Too bad you didn't take care of your toy because now it's broken" they will shrug and say "I don't care." Not sure if it's just a defense mechanism or they simply have too much stuff. Probably a little of both.

  2. Love this! Our kids do these things too! We got a dust buster from my sister for Christmas that has been AMAZING!!! My kids (5 & 3) take turns vacuuming after every meal so I don't have to clean the floors as often! It's been awesome!

    1. You get your kids to vacuum? that is awesome! I'm always too afraid I'm going to have finish the job myself anyway.

  3. Fantastic ideas! I will try and implement the time and music ideas. I feel like such a nagger all the time, and maybe this will help lighten the whole thing up for me. Thanks!