The truth is, I don’t really like cleaning. It’s exhausting, it’s thankless, it’s monotonous (and I’m lazy). But I also hate living in a dirty/messy house. As my kids get older, acquiring more and more hobbies and toys, it seems like our house is always messy. And even though my animosity toward vacuums and scrub brushes has made it tough to instill a love of cleaning within my kids, it is time for that to change. It is time for my daughter to get more involved with cleaning up the house and having regular chores. I know my daughter, and she’s going to complain (hey, I don’t blame her), but here’s the thing: cleaning doesn’t have to be boring. With a few simple cleaning games and products, it is possible—easy, even—to make the most boring chores fun. I’ve done a little investigating and found some of the best cleaning games for kids, and here they are.
Photo: Pink and Green Mama
1. Make a toddler cleaning set. For kids who like to do whatever mommy is doing, try creating a toddler cleaning kit for your little helper to tote around, complete with this adorable dust (sock) bunny.
2. The robot clean-up game. By creating directions based on simple computer codes (walk forward, bend down, turn left, drop toy), your child will not only have fun being a robot, but she’ll also end up cleaning her room; plus, she’ll learn some programming along the way, too.
3. Arm them with spray bottles. Sounds simple, but spray bottles are a lot of fun to pump and squirt, so set the kids up on the kitchen floor or at the windows, and let ’em get to work.
4. Play cleaning Jenga. Write a chore or cleaning activity on the side of each log in a Jenga stack. There’ll be more at risk than just the tower’s stability—your kids might be told to “mop the floor” or “fold laundry,” depending on which log they choose.
Photo: How Does She
5. Create a bull’s-eye. With a little painter’s tape, create a little bull’s-eye on the floor and make it your child’s mission to sweep all the crumbs into that small area. This is a great way for them to stay focused on the task at hand.
6. Create a cleaning treasure hunt. I don’t know about you, but my kids love the annual Easter egg hunt, so why not turn it into a cleaning activity? Tell the kids you’ve carefully hidden small toys and treats here and there, and that the only way they’re going to discover these gems is by cleaning up the house.
7. Make a scratch-off chore chart. Chores will seem a lot more fun when the kids get their very own lottery-style scratch-off chore cards created with homemade scratch-off paint.
8. Take before and after photos. My daughter loves to use my phone and take pictures, and comparing the two side by side is incredibly rewarding.
9. Have a laundry race. Ready, set, go! Blow your whistle, shout a color, and watch the children sprint off to their rooms. The winner is the first child to come back with all their dirty laundry in the requested color. It’s a fun, energetic (and slightly competitive) way to sort colors, whites, and darks.
10. Play pretend. For kids who love to play pretend or dress-up, have them come up with a character (from maids and butlers to cowboys and firemen) and then be that character as they do their chores. This is a great way to let the kids flex creative muscles as well as get the job done.
Photo: Cinnaberry Suite
11. Turn chores into a dice game. Create a list of chores numbered 1–6, and then let the dice decide which chore you’ll do first. Have each dice-roller complete a specific chore or work together, and then move on to another item on the list.
12. Make a junk heap for them to dismantle. Tidying up a massive mess of toys can seem a bit daunting for tiny hands. Try piling everything into a big heap in the middle of the floor, and then let the kids break it down, piece by piece.
13. Use kid-sized cleaning supplies. Cleaning gets a lot more fun when the cleaning implements are kid sized rather than cumbersome and unwieldy. Let’s Play House! is a great alternative from Melissa & Doug.
14. Film your own commercial. Get out your iPhone and start filming a pretend cleaning commercial, starring your kids. It’ll require lots of “action shots,” and the kids won’t just clean, they’ll do it with a smile.
15. Freeze-dance (tidy up) game. One of my daughter’s favorite games is the freeze-dance game. In order to make it a tidying up game, too, all you have to do is play some fun, energized music (for some reason my daughter’s favorite song is “Timber” by Ke$ha), and then let the kids dance and put away as many toys as possible until the music stops. Start and stop as many times as it takes to get the whole room put away.
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