How to Make Cleaning Up Fun for Kids

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How to make cleaning up fun for kids_1

Clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere.  Clean up, clean up…who has this song stuck in their head 24/7?? Are your kids over it, too?!

Here are my tips for how to make cleaning up fun for kids.

Make it a friendly contest

My first go-to attempt is always, “Who can clean up the fastest?!”  My kids go nuts for this.  Both are highly competitive, so this tactic works well in our house.  If both stare at me with blank faces, I’ll jump in and start furiously cleaning, saying “Look, mama is winning!”  Boom.  That gets them up!

Or, I’ll set the timer for a few minutes and say, “Who can clean up before the timer beeps!?”  Then, I pick a “prize,” like a sticker, an MnM…whatever works for you and your kids.  Just something little.

Positive praise

Speaking of, positive praise goes a looonnnggg way.  Saying things like:

“It makes mama SO happy when you clean up.”

“Excellent job cleaning!”  Wow, you are so good at this!”

“How did you learn to do that?  Wow, mama is so impressed!”

While this usually isn’t the sole motivator, I find any opportunity to give my children positive praise…because heaven knows that I do enough correcting during the day.

Turn organizing into a learning game

Make cleaning a learning game with your kids.  Sort by colors.  Sort by categories (Let’s make a pirate toy bucket!  Who can find all of the dolls and put them in the same drawer?).  Sort by shapes.  Sort by size.

Depending on your child’s age, you can really play some fun “games” while you are cleaning.  Sneaky!

 “Work” hard, play hard

Pick a fun activity to do after cleaning.  Maybe it’s a park date.  Maybe it’s a bike ride around your neighborhood.  Or a trip to the library to pick new books.  Whatever makes you and your kiddies happy.

And explain that an important part of being in a family is helping take care of “our” home.  We all contribute.  We all clean.  We all take responsibility for taking care of our house.

When the chores are done, then we get to do something fun!!  Now, I’m not pretending that this concept is going to magically connect with your kids, and you’ll have happy little cleaning machines who want to help in the house.  But I look at it as a daily lesson to reinforce…and fingers crossed, one day, they will get it.

Dance party!!!

Turn the music up, and boogie while you clean.  If you are having fun, smiling, dancing, being silly…and encourage your kids to do the same…then it turns a mundane chore into a more fun experience.  We love to play (gulp) the “Frozen” soundtrack….let it go, LET IT GO!!!!!!!

What is your favorite cleaning up tip with kids?  How do you make it more fun?  Share below and let’s get some new ideas going!


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  1. 1
    Jen says:

    Love all these ideas. One thing that worked for me was honesty! If my daughter moans, or says, I don’t want to. I tell her, I don’t want to either! I feel you. But it has to be picked up, and if we all share the responsibility, it will go faster.

  2. 2
    Christy says:

    Jen – love it. Absolutely. I like the idea of sharing the responsibility!

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