One of my sons, Paul, LOVES cleaning up. He often dumps stuff out just for the pleasure of putting it away again, and sings to himself as he goes about his treasured task. Rare, I know, but I’ll take it!
But our other son sees cleaning up as a chore, not a privilege. For kids like Charbel (and I think I can safely say that MOST kids are like Charbel when it comes to cleaning), turning chore time into a game can make the entire experience more positive for everyone. Even if you happen to have a happy little cleaner like Paul, games always make housecleaning more enjoyable!
Here are some fun ideas you can use to make chores fun!
1. Counting game. Keep calling out different numbers of objects you want your child to put away. This helps your child practice their counting skills while picking things up. Target ages: 2-4
2. Color game. Choose a color and ask your child to pick up all objects of that color. When they’ve completed the task, pick another color, or let them pick one. Target ages: 2-4
3. Naming game. Tell your child to call out the name of each object as they pick it up and put it away. If they don’t know the name, they need to show you the object and learn what it’s called. This keeps them happily busy while cleaning up, and increases their vocabulary as well! Target ages: 2-4
4. Musical cleaning. Put a sound track on in the background. Whenever the music stops, everyone has to do something you call out (hop on one foot, hug a sibling, etc.). Target ages: All
5. Time Challenges: This can work one of two ways. You can challenge your child to complete a certain task in a set amount of time, or you can assign two children different tasks and let them race. It’s not enough to finish first. Once a child has finished, you need to inspect their work and verify that it’s been done well for them to have won the race. Target ages: 4 and up
6. Cleanliness Rewards. You could do this as a competition, but I prefer doing it as something collaborative. Set a standard of cleanliness you want your kids to meet (such as a clear list of tasks to be done). When they have successfully completed everything and done a good job, they get a cleanliness reward. Possible rewards: choosing a dinner or desert, having a family movie night, spending one-on-one time with Mom and Dad, going to bed 10 minutes later… something family oriented that motivates your child. Target ages: 4 and up
7. Point system. Assign different chores point values; longer, more difficult tasks should be worth more than shorter, easier ones. Your kids add up points as they go about doing chores. Then, give them a selection of rewards to choose from, with different rewards requiring different numbers of points. Your kids will have fun adding up their points and then choosing how to use them! This is a great game to play with chores they need to do in addition to their regular responsibilities. Target ages: 4 and up
8. Dance Party. Turn on fun music in the background and have a family dance party while cleaning! Target ages: All
9. Cleaning Inspector. Let one of your kids be a cleaning inspector. They have their own tasks, but are also assigned to go around the house making sure other tasks are completed thoroughly. If another sibling contests what the cleaning inspector is saying, have a trial by jury involving the other kids! Target ages: 4 and up
10. Basketball! Do you have things around the living room that need to be thrown away? Play basketball! Set up the waste basket and let your kids take turns tossing things away. Develop a point system based on how far away they are when they throw the object in the can. Target ages: 4 and up
11. Puzzle time! Hide puzzle pieces in different places they are likely to find when cleaning (behind the couch, in the cleaning closet, etc.). As they clean the house, they need to try to find all the puzzle pieces and make the puzzle. Target ages: 4 and up
12. Early Bird Special! Give an incentive for getting everything done early. Again, this is best if the kids are doing something in addition to their regular responsibilities. Tell them, for example, that after getting all the extra chores done, you’ll go out to dinner as a family. If they get all the chores done before ______ o’clock, you’ll go for dinner and dessert. Target ages: All
13. You Pick! Let your kids choose their tasks. Instead of assigning chores, let you kids have fun picking what they do. For older kids, they can just distribute work among themselves. For younger ones, turn it into a game by writing different chores that need to be done on popsicle sticks or paper slips and letting your kids choose one, complete it and then return to choose another. Target ages: 4 and up
14. Guessing game. Before cleaning, ask your kids to guess how long it will take, what time you’ll finish, which room will take the longest, etc. Have prizes for whoever guessed correctly. Target ages: All
15. Treat time. Have a treat your kids love (fresh chocolate chip cookies, maybe? That’s a big one for us!). Call for a surprise break while they’re cleaning and let them enjoy their treat. Target ages: All
16. Imagine That! Let your kids use their imaginations! They can pretend that they are cleaning a castle or mansion and are the maid and butler (try to speak and act accordingly!), or could pretend like they’re homeowners getting their house ready for the market. Target ages: 4-12
Why be miserable every chore day when you could be having tons of fun? Listen to your children too – kids are really creative and can come up with great fun ideas of their own!