Make Cleaning Fun: Ideas on How Kids Can Help Around the House
The only thing harder than keeping a house clean is keeping a house clean with messy kiddos running around. Between wiping down countertops, making the bed, watching the kids, and letting the dog out – keeping up with a home can be overwhelming! However, you don’t have to do it alone. Learn how to make cleaning fun for kids (and accessible too!) with these age-appropriate tips and chore ideas that grow with your little ones.
Make Cleaning Fun for Toddlers
For the littlest helpers, age-appropriate chores include things like picking up toys and clothes, cleaning up spills and crumbs, and putting away books. It can be hard to figure out how kids can help around the house, especially when they’re this little, but this is the perfect age to get them accustomed to it. To make cleaning a fun and positive experience for kids 2-4 years old:
- Capitalize on your toddler’s interests. If your toddler loves stacking, ask them to gather and stack up all scattered books into a tall tower. If they like sorting, show them how to sort laundry into darks and lights. At this age, almost anything can be fun!
- Turn it into a game. Challenge your child to “pick up everything red” or “put three toys into the box.” They’ll have fun practicing their colors and counting while tidying up.
- Create make-believe stories and scenarios. Everything is more entertaining with a little imagination! Tell them that Queen Elsa is coming for dinner, but only if that spilled milk is cleaned up. Pretend the toy box is their toy’s house, and they all have to go home and sleep at the end of a long day.
- Make chore time your special one-on-one time. Toddlers want nothing more than to spend time with mommy and daddy, and they love helping. Put away your phone and other distractions, kneel or sit to look them in the eye, and make them your little assistant with simple tasks.
- Offer lots of positive feedback. An easy way to make the experience fun for your little ones is to cheer them on from start to finish. While tasks might not be done correctly (or promptly!), lay the praise on thick to form a positive association between chore completion and affirmation!
Make Cleaning Fun for Grade School-Aged Children
Once your toddlers have turned into full-fledged kids, there are a lot of ways they can help out! They can start sorting laundry, emptying wastebaskets, washing dishes, feeding the pets, making their beds, vacuuming, sweeping, and clearing the table – just to name a few! Some tips and tricks for making these things fun include:
- Blast music while you work! Everything’s better when you can sing and dance while you do it. Let your kids help you create a “cleaning playlist” and play it loud while everyone does their chores.
- Turn chores into challenges with timers or special instructions. Bring out everyone’s competitive streak by giving them an extra challenge. Say, “I bet you can’t do this chore in under three minutes” or, “Try to complete this while hopping on one foot,” and watch them take off.
- Use a sticker chart. Every time they complete a chore (or every day they finish all their tasks), they receive a sticker. Give them a treat once they collect a certain amount of stickers, like baking their favorite dessert or choosing the movie for family movie night.
- Keep it short. Cleaning is always more palatable when done in short increments. Keep cleaning enjoyable by keeping it brief, and always remember how short their little attention spans are at this age.
Make Cleaning Fun for Pre-Teens and Beyond
Once your kids are older, there are endless tasks you can delegate to them. They can prepare and pack simple meals, load and unload the dishwasher, help clean the laundry machine, fold laundry, and even scrub the bathroom. Check out this thorough laundry and kitchen cleaning checklist (and step-by-step instructions for your older kids to follow), courtesy of Whirlpool. To make all of these tasks more fun, try:
- Create personal kid-friendly cleaning kits. Stock little buckets with various necessary cleaning supplies in their favorite colors, and let them decorate the bucket however they like. Wiping down the counters? Boring. Wiping down the counters with a special pink sponge that they’ve retrieved from their matching pink bucket, emblazoned with their name in glitter stickers? So much fun!
- Let them make choices. No one likes being ordered around — especially not tweens — so you can make cleaning more pleasant for your children by merely giving them a say. Present them with three tasks, and let them pick the one they want to do.
- Give them an incentive. This might not make chores “fun,” but it lights a fire! If their room is a mess, withhold a privilege (such as TV time or permission to go to a sleepover) until they complete their chores.
Trying to keep your home running like a lean, clean, and cozy machine is no easy task, but having dated cleaning appliances and essentials can make it even harder! Find the essentials you need to take the guesswork out of housework online or in-store at your nearest Rent-A-Center — from Whirlpool washers and dryers to easy-to-clean Amana kitchen ranges!