Today has been a crazy day. Full of errands to run, trips in and our of town for various children, and things I needed to get done at home. And at the top of today’s long list was written ‘CLEAN UP!’
We are having a small visitor this evening, a visitor who is still crawling so we needed to pick up all the tiny toys, vaccum and wash the floors.
None of these tasks excited my big boy. He wanted to “Do something… something fun!”
I didn’t have time for ‘fun’ this morning and after I said no to painting, and no to lego and no to ‘everything’ Morgan sat pouting on the couch and then he said…
“Well I could help you clean up. That’s kinda fun”
Light bulb moment… surely there were fun ways to help with cleaning up??
Race Against the Clock
My kids love a bit of a challenge, so setting the timer of my phone and challenging them to clean the floor before it goes off is always fun! My wise friend Shae from Free Range in Suburbia taught me to let the kids pick the noise/music that plays when the timer goes off which adds even more fun!
Play the Colour Game.
Add a bit more complexity to the timed challenge and play the colour game. Give each child a container and asign then a colour. They have to pick up as many things of that colour before the timer goes off!
Let them Wash the Dishes
A small amount of warm soapy water in the sink and even my toddler has a good go at washing the non-breakable dishes. From around 3 and a half my kids have all helped wash the dishes and managed breakables without incident. But I suggest you do this before you wash the floor because there always seems to be a little extra water around when they are done.
Let them Mop!
For some reason all my kids love to mop the floor. When the girls are home there is usually an argument over who gets to mop first and how much floor everyone gets to clean. I think the thing that makes it fun is that we have one of those Rubbermaid reveal mops (I was not paid to write about this today but a long long time ago I was given one to review, you can read about it here.). The lure of being able to pull the trigger and squirt water over the floor then swish the mop around seems to cloud the fact that they are actually cleaning. And I’ve discovered that all my big kids can mop the floor just as well as I can!
Do it while Dancing!
If all else fails put on some loud music and dance while you clean. My kids either join in or at least have fun laughing at me!
Ok so maybe cleaning up will never really be fun, and I may have conned my big boy just a little bit… But at least it’s not so boring when you entice the kids to join in, and you are teaching them valuable life skills at the same time. One day, someone will be very happy when they are living with my boy who loves to cook and wash the floors!
Have you got any great tips for encouraging your kids to help clean up? How do you make it fun?
Read the comments or scroll down to add your own:
Both my kids love to vacuum. No conning or bribing necessary! There may only be about 3 square metres of rug, but I don’t complain when the kids take over. The hardest bit is managing who goes first and how long they can have the vacuum! :)
Miss 3 just helped to vacuum the car and with a damp cloth clean off all the marks she makes with her shoes on the seats! She loved it!
I love it when kids enjoy helping. Mine have mostly gotten to the age where the only thing that motivates them is money. Although since I’ve been pregnant and not well, they have been stepping up a bit which is nice.
Oure such a engaged and clever mumma, Kate. I sure I say the same thing every time I visit you,but it’s just so true!! x
I have to share with you something my mom did (once) when I was about 10. Ok it’s senseless bribery in a fun way. I had the most awful messy room and she went in there and hit a half a dozen wrapped presents hidden all around the room. She told me that as I cleaned I’d find little surprised. I thought it was great. I cleaned my room in a heart beat.
I’m especially fond of the color game. Now that my daughter is 4 and knows her colors I’m going to give this game a try. Fun stuff.
These are great ideas! My son plays in the kitchen sink any chance he gets. I’ve never thought of actually putting him to work while he was there! He’d love it.
I have two games my kids (7 & 9) like: 1) I challenge my kids to see how many items they can put away in a particular amount of time; 2) Similar to your color game above, we do a scavenger hunt of sorts where I ask them to find out-of-place things with a particular characteristic, i.e. something made of wood, something smaller than their thumbs, etc. They love showing me what they found and getting their new assignments.